We present a model of two-party competition that relates the distribution of voters' preferences to the formation of the electoral landscape upon which parties choose issue positions. The two parties in the model tend to converge to similar positions on some issues and diverge on other issues, depending on how voters' assign weights, or strengths, to policy dimensions. In particular, the more weight voters' assign to policy dimensions on which they have extreme preferences, the more parties will separate on the policy. Predictions from the model are tested with data from presidential elections in the United States, and various tests offer robust support for the model.
Spatial Voting, Voter Preferences, Adaptive Behavior, Empirical, American National Election Studies.
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