Date of Graduation
Master of Arts in Political Science (MA)
William D. Schreckhise
Janine A. Parry
Second Committee Member
democracy, party competition, party control, public opinion, single-party dominance, state politics
Studying the opinion-policy link in the state of Arkansas can determine if the state has had a representative governing body. The state, like many others, has a history of single-party dominance politics, and this study seeks to understand the conditions for policy congruence under one-party rule. Specifically, this research focuses on the past two decades of Arkansas politics, wherein the state’s legislature experienced a partisan shift from the Democratic Party to the eventual single-party dominance of the Republicans. Using data from the Arkansas Poll and the Arkansas State Legislature to analyze multivariate OLS regression models, this study investigates factors that account for policies passed by the state legislature that are congruent with the state’s public opinion. Overall, this study finds that policies were most congruent with public opinion under Democratic single-party dominance, yet where party competition remained high, influencing the party to be more accountable to its right-leaning constituents. Public policy is incongruent with public opinion under Republican years of single-party dominance, which occurs during a low competitive political environment. This indicates that single-party dominance flourishes when it has an electoral advantage, giving parties less incentive to adhere to public interests and greater political room to pass more extreme policies that do not necessarily align with what the public may want. These findings have important implications for the current state of Arkansas politics. Though Republicans may have control of both the executive and legislative branches, 2022 has the potential to be an election year that shakes up Arkansas politics as more Democratic candidates are running for office, possibly increasing the policy congruence between the state legislature and public opinion.
Hill, K. L. (2022). Representative Government: An Evaluation of Single-Party Dominance in the State of Arkansas. Graduate Theses and Dissertations Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/etd/4425