Votes Without Leverage

Votes Without Leverage : Women in American Electoral Politics, 1920-1970

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Votes without Leverage re-examines a long-standing puzzle in women's electoral politics. Namely why the increasing importance of women's votes throughout the 1920s did not imply increasing success for the lobbying efforts of women's organizations during the same period. Applying recent theoretical developments in the political economy of institutions and electoral behavior, Professor Harvey argues that female disenfranchisement prior to 1920 created incentives for leaders of women's organizations to invest in the pursuit of suffrage as a first step to achieving other policy benefits for women. When the battle over the right to vote was finally won, those leaders then required time to adapt their organizations to pursue a broader legislative agenda through conventional electoral politics. During this time, however, the major party organizations were able to initiate their own electoral mobilization of women, giving the parties significant advantages in imperfectly competitive markets for women's electoral mobilization.
Without women's votes, those organizations ceased to be able to win policy concessions from vote-minded legislators, a state of affairs that would not significantly change until the accelerated decline of the parties as mobilization organizations in the 1960s.
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Table of contents

1. The legacy of female disenfranchisement; 2. The logic of policy change: voters, organizations, and institutions; 3. Testing competing hypotheses: pre- and post- suffrage in New York State, 1909-20; 4. The national race to mobilize women, 1917-32; 5. One step forward, two steps back: women in the parties, 1917-32; 6. The re-emergence of policy and party benefits for women, 1970-present; References.
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Review quote

'An excellent model of clear research design and execution.' Political Studies
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