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Legislative Effects of Single-Member Vs. Multi-Member Districts

Greg D. Adams
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 40, No. 1 (Feb., 1996), pp. 129-144
DOI: 10.2307/2111697
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2111697
Page Count: 16
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Legislative Effects of Single-Member Vs. Multi-Member Districts
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Abstract

This project uses mathematical logic and results from spatial models to explain how parties in a legislature elected under a multi-member district system will differ from those elected under single-member plurality, holding all else constant. Under most circumstances, parties elected under multi-member districts will be more ideologically diverse than those elected under single-member plurality, all else being equal. The above hypothesis is tested using interest group ratings for members of the Illinois General Assembly, a legislative body that has used both single-member and multi-member systems to elect its members. During the time when the Illinois House was elected by multi-member districts and the Senate was elected by single-member districts, parties in the House were consistently more ideologically diverse than their counterparts in the Senate. This difference disappears after the House adopts a single-member district system.

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