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We argue that governing status affects how voters react to extreme versus moderate policy positions. Being in government forces parties to compromise and to accept ideologically unappealing choices as the best among available alternatives. Steady exposure to government parties in this role and frequent policy compromise by governing parties lead voters to discount the positions of parties when they are in government. Hence, government parties do better in elections when they offset this discounting by taking relatively extreme positions. The relative absence of this discounting dynamic for opposition parties, on the other hand, means that they perform better by taking more moderate positions, as the standard Downsian model would predict. We present evidence from national elections in Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, 1971–2005, to support this claim.