I am a Georgetown Ph.D. candidate in American politics.
My dissertation gives the first quantitative account of proportional representation (PR) in American subnational politics. How did it win, what did it mean for governing, and why was it repealed? The recent spread of ranked-choice voting makes these questions interesting. Here are some answers:
- PR was a multi-factional gamble for influence in government. Minority parties and ruling-party defectors used it to bypass ruling-party leaders.
- Although PR was candidate-based, it did not depress party discipline. Change in party discipline resulted from leadership fights, just as it does in other contexts.
- Legislative coalitions sometimes shifted. Parties changed positions as their delegations changed.
- PR survived as long as the second-largest party was pivotal. Support for repeal came from some groups that wanted PR in the first place.
- PR brought party competition to legislatures that otherwise might have been one-party dominated.
I'm broadly interested in party change, institutional change, and how these interact. I care about all levels of American government.