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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Aggregating Conflict: The Impact of Municipal Boundaries on Electoral Politics


This article examines the impact of city size on electoral competition for city council office. Models from election systems design are applied in the municipal contest in order to evaluate the impact of government structure as an intervening variable. Results show that city size matters even after electoral structure and socio-political diversity have been taken into account. District magnitude has a pronounced impact on electoral fragmentation, to the effect that each additional seat being contested adds two “effective” candidates to the race. Incumbency effects, election timing, and other institutional boundaries are also shown to be relevant factors conditioning electoral fragmentation.

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