Split-Ticket Voters, Divided Government, and Fiorina's Policy-Balancing Model

Vassar College

To account for the increase in divided government in the United States, Fiorina has advanced a purposive theory of split-ticket voting that emphasizes voters' desire to balance the relative policy extremism of the Democratic and Republican par- ties. This study uncovers little empirical evidence to substantiate the policy-balancing model. Respondents' issue-scale placements of the president and federal government challenge the premise that national policy is perceived as a weighted average of the individual positions staked out by the executive and congressional branches. More importantly, conditional logic analysis in three of the five presidential-year elections from 1972 to 1988 provides no support for Fiorina's central tenet that voters will endorse the presidential-House pair for which the averaged partisan position is closest to their own ideological preference. Finally, there is only scattered support for the propositions that are developed as logical extensions of this theory.