Strategic Mobilization: Why Disproportional Districts Increase Partisan Mobilization Efforts
Many scholars suggest that proportional representation increases party mobilization by creating nationally competitive districts that give parties an incentive to mobilize everywhere. This paper provides theoretical and empirical evidence that brings this claim into question. I propose, unlike earlier scholars, that the positive effect of district competitiveness on party mobilization efforts increases as electoral districts become more disproportional, arguing that disproportionality itself encourages mobilization and exaggerates the impact of competitiveness on mobilization. Game-theoretic predictions tested with individual-level survey data from national legislative elections show mobilization levels are much higher and that district competitiveness has a much larger positive effect on parties’ mobilization efforts in single-member districts. Overall, the theoretical and empirical evidence suggests that proportional electoral rules give parties no strong incentive to mobilize anywhere.