Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2015

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Chair

Dr. Marija Bekafigo

Committee Chair Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Member 2

Dr. Kate Greene

Committee Member 2 Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Member 3

Dr. Troy Gibson

Committee Member 3 Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Abstract

Polarization within the American government has reached near historic levels in recent decades. One of the most readily apparent results of this partisan atmosphere is the increase in the number of American states that are almost totally controlled by one of the two major political parties. This study seeks to examine the effect this single-party domination has on the policy positions of Senate candidates of the minority parties in these states. It is hypothesized that minority party candidates seeking election in these states will be more likely to adopt policy positions more commonly associated with the platforms of the majority party in an effort to remain viable, leading to increased levels of political homogeneity.

In an effort to measure these policy deviations, the campaign websites of Senate candidates for each state over three elections will be examined, and positions regarding five typically polarized issues will be recorded. These positions will then be compared to the official platforms of the two parties’ national organizations. Candidates will be scored on a party loyalty scale according to their adherence to or deviation from their party’s official position. Using these scores, candidates from single-party dominated states will be compared to their counterparts from more competitive states to gain a clearer picture of the true nature of political competition.

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