Bischof, Daniel & Markus Wagner. 2017. “What Makes Parties Adapt to Voter Preferences? The Role of Party Organisation, Goals and Ideology.” British Journal of Political Science: forthcoming.

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.

[PDF][Link to journal][Replication (approval pending)]

Key findingPolicy-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.