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Terry J. Royed and Stephen A. Borrelli, "Parties and Economic Policy in the USA: Pledges and Performance, 1976-1992," Party Politics, 5 (January 1999), 115-127.

First Paragraph:
The willingness and ability of parties to carry out campaign pledges is a central concern for democratic theory. The Westminster, or 'responsible two-party system' model - in which one party wins complete control and implements its agenda through strict party discipline - is considered ideal by many because it ensures both efficiency and accountability (Committee on Political Parties, 1950). Americanists and comparativists alike have viewed US parties as weak, indistinct and ineffective, and the separation-of-powers system (aggravated by divided government) as lacking in efficiency and accountability. However, a number of recent studies conclude that the US system is surprisingly effective. Studies examining linkages between party platforms and policy change have found that parties do carry out their pledges (Budge and Hofferbert, 1990; Pomper and Lederman, 1982). Mayhew (1991) concludes that enactment of 'significant' legislation in the post-war period has been equally likely under divided and united government.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Distribution of economic pledges, by policy area (%)
Table 2: Distribution of economic policy pledges, by type of action pledged (%)
Table 3: Fulfilment of economic pledges, by policy area
Table 4: Party advantage indices, by policy area

Last Paragraph:
Our approach and results are a useful complement to the statistical models that dominate the political economy literature. Examining pledges and pledge fulfillment allows us to examine factors that are difficult to capture in such models, such as changes in party positions over time and differences between presidential ideology and party positions. Our approach also shows the value of going beyond macroeconomic outcomes and aggregate budgets to include a variety of policies that have economic impact.