Since 1998, U.S. House incumbents have won a staggering 98 percent of their reelection races. Electoral competition is also low and in decline in most state and primary elections. The Marketplace for Democracy combines the resources of two eminent research organizations—the Brookings Institution and the Cato Institute—to address the startling lack of competition in our democratic system. The contributors consider the historical development, legal background, and political aspects of a system that is supposed to be responsive and accountable yet for many is becoming stagnant, self‐perpetuating, and tone‐deaf. How did we get to this point, and what—if anything—should be done about it?
In The Marketplace for Democracy, top‐tier political scholars also investigate the perceived lack of competition in arenas only previously speculated on, such as state legislative contests and congressional primaries. Michael McDonald, John Samples, and their colleagues analyze previous reform efforts such as direct primaries and term limits, and the effects they have had on electoral competition. They also examine current reform efforts in redistricting and campaign finance regulation, as well as the impact of third parties. In sum, what does all this tell us about what might be done to increase electoral competition?
Elections are the vehicles through which Americans choose who governs them, and the power of the ballot enables ordinary citizens to keep public officials accountable. This volume considers different policy options for increasing the competition needed to keep American politics vibrant, responsive, and democratic.