Why America has only two parties

My explanation is not institutionalist.

Why does America have only two parties? We usually hear it’s because of the voting system. Proportional representation (PR) causes more than two parties. And until the United States has proportional representation, you’d better not vote for third parties!

Not so much.

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The urban PR “spells” chart, updated

If you are reading this, you know that 24 U.S. cities tried the STV form of proportional representation. Here is an updated chart summarizing those episodes.

spells_25aug2015

The changes include:

1) Cropping to 1965, since events thereafter are basically chartjunk.

2) Adding a failed 1959 repeal attempt for Worcester, MA.

3) Changing the dates for Oak Ridge, TN, which evidence suggests to have emerged with STV a decade later than I thought. Note that the Oak Ridge council was “advisory,” whatever that means.

4) Adding Norris, TN, which I had not included because I could not find the dates of any STV elections. This Town Council was also “advisory.” Elections were held annually from 1937 through 1945. I cannot find evidence of an STV election post-1945. The federal government sold Norris to a developer in 1948, and Tennessee granted Norris its own charter in 1949.

5) Date-stamping, since this chart may evolve gain.

Please share any suggested, further changes. Wouldn’t it be nice if our state and local politics were better documented?