The landmark study by Adams at al. (2006) finds that niche parties are unresponsive to the median voter and provides two theoretical reasons for this pattern: these parties are (1) more policy-seeking and (2) more influenced by their activists. Recent research adds that niche parties have narrow issue appeals beyond the traditional left-right dimension, implying that these parties pay less attention to the left-right median voter. We test these three mechanisms in a replication and extension of the original findings by Adams at al. (2006). We find that policy-seeking parties and parties with a narrow issue focus are less likely to track median voter changes, while activist influence has no moderating effect. This finding has important implications for our understanding of party responsiveness.
Key finding: Policy-seeking parties + parties with narrow issues focus do not adapt to mean voter shifts. Activist influence (party organization) does not show a moderating effect for the relationship between party positions and median voter shifts.