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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