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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Does the Electoral Connection Link the Branches?: Legislative Responsiveness to to Executive Elections


Do legislators and potential legislative candidates respond to the signals that executive election results send out about constituent preferences? This paper takes advantage of the natural experiment provided by California's 2003 recall election -- held at the midpoint of the state's legislative session -- to test theories about the strategic entry of candidates and the ideological mobility of legislators. First, we show that a surge in support for one party in an executive election can help that party recruit more experienced legislative candidates than usual, while qualified leaders in the other party are discouraged from running in districts where the surge is particularly strong. Second, we show that legislators in the weakening party, particularly those in the most competitive districts, will moderate their behavior after the executive election results signal their electoral vulnerability.

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