The Ticket-Splitter: A New Psephos in the American Electorate

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science & Public Administration


This thesis examines the emergence of a new force in the American electorate: The Ticket-Splitter. The ticket- splitter as a contemporary psephos or voting pebble has filled the ballot box at all election levels during the past two decades with a decision that verifies the sudden and persistent growth of ticket-splitting. Moreover,, this increased ballot-splitting has minimized the strength and influence of the two major political parties. But who actually is this ticket-splitter?

In the past, most voting behavior studies have relied on the self-classification by respondents from surveys in order to obtain the overall political identification of the American electorate. In other words, all voters are politically classified by simply stating whether they thought of themselves as Democrats, Republicans, or independents. Consequently, the Democratic and Republican identifiers epitomized those voters who voted a straight party ticket and the independents represented an independence in their voting habits because they crossed over party lines.

This thesis contends, however, that the self-perception method no longer proves to be an accurate means for identifying the political allegiance of voters. The new methodological approach utilized by this thesis to determine the real political identity of an individual is based upon how one actually votes and not how one perceives himself. Therefore, this study asserts the belief that crossover voting is an ubiquitous force and that ballot-splitters tested by the actual behavior method espouse specific socio-economic characteristics.

A test of this assertion was made by focusing on the voters of North Dakota. According to a survey questionnaire, the North Dakota electorate substantiated the discrepancy between self-perception and actual voting behavior. It was discovered that the ticket-splitter is basically a Republican or Democrat who abandons partisan allegiance on a ballot by voting for a candidate of the opposite party. Many of the independents, moreover, were found to have voted a straight party ticket.

In addition, the North Dakota ticket-splitter can be identified by specific demographic characteristics. These socio-economic features, compared to a national survey, undoubtedly conceptualize this new voter's personality and supports the contention that ballot-splitting is a nationwide force by being identifiable even in a one-party state. Finally, this thesis presents some of the basic determinants which have promoted the phenomenal practice of ballotsplitting .

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