This book provides a candidate entry explanation for partisan polarization in Congress. Danielle M. Thomsen draws on quantitative data to show that ideological moderates are less likely to run for and remain in Congress than those at the extremes. The book introduces a party fit argument for why moderates have opted out of congressional politics. It suggests that the personal and professional benefits of congressional service have diminished for liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats as the parties have drifted apart. Although the political center has long been deemed a coveted position in the legislature, it is now a lonely and lowly place to be. Opting Out of Congress argues that partisan polarization is unlikely to diminish if ideological moderates do not run for office, and reformers who seek to restore bipartisanship in Congress must consider how to encourage moderates to launch congressional candidacies.
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Danielle M. Thomsen is an assistant professor of political science at Syracuse University, New York. Her research has been published in the Journal of Politics and Legislative Studies Quarterly, and has also been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Vox, and the Christian Science Monitor. In 2015, she received the E. E. Schattschneider Award from the American Political Science Association for the best dissertation in American politics. She has received financial support from the National Science Foundation, the American Association of University Women, and the Dirksen Congressional Center. In 2014-15, she was a post-doctoral fellow at the Political Institutions and Public Choice Program (PIPC) at Duke University, North Carolina.
Preface; 1. The choices have changed; 2. Party fit and the calculus of candidacy; 3. Ideology, perceptions, and political ambition; 4. Ideological moderates won't run for Congress; 5. Where the action is: asymmetric polarization and open seats; 6. Ideological moderates won't stay in Congress; 7. The growing partisan gap in women's representation; 8. Toward a less polarized Congress?; Appendix.
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