Legislative voting, Incumbency (Public officers), Presidents of the United States, and Political affiliation
Theories of candidate positioning suggest that candidates will respond dynamically to their electoral environment. Because of the difficulty of obtaining “bridge votes”, most existing approaches for estimating the ideal points of members of Congress generate static ideal points or ideal points that move linearly over time. We propose an approach for dynamic ideal point estimation using Project Vote Smart’s National Political Awareness Test to construct bridge votes. We use our dynamic estimates to measure aggregate change, to measure individual-level change, and to study the institutional and structural factors that explain the changing positions of House candidates and members of Congress. We demonstrate that while the Republican Party has been selecting increasingly extreme candidates, Democratic incumbents have become more extreme while in office. We also find that the congruence between elected members of Congress and their constituents is mostly explained by the selection as opposed to the responsiveness of the candidate. Nonetheless, we find evidence of dynamic responsiveness of incumbents in specific circumstances. We find that competitiveness, midterm elections, and sharing the president’s party affiliation are associated with greater responsiveness. Conversely, retirement is not associated with a change in responsiveness. We find no evidence of responsiveness of challengers. Finally, we find that close elections draw challengers who are more in line with the district’s ideology. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
Government policy, Expertise, Research institutes -- United States, Power (Social sciences) -- United States, Lobbying -- United States, Testimony (Theory of knowledge), and Ideology -- Social aspects
Skirting the lines between academic, promotional and advocacy organizations, think tanks spend an inordinate amount of time and money attempting to influence policy debates, all the while being legally barred from lobbying. Think tanks, unlike interest groups, do not bring with them electoral constituencies to advocate on behalf of, so the ways in which they persuade legislators to adopt their opinions cannot simply be electoral in nature. Using a dataset of think tank citations from congressional floor speeches and committee testimony records, I compare the influence of think tanks based on a new measure of their ideologies and, in doing so, show that think tanks engage in strategic ideological positioning to maximize their influence. An additional hypothesis examined is the relationship between think tank members’ previous work experiences in government with the organizations’ overall prominence. By treating think tanks as strategic actors in legislative politics, I show that think tanks’ ideological positioning affects directly how members of Congress engage with them, both by citing them in floor speeches and in calling them to testify, with more extreme think tanks being cited more frequently in floor speeches and more moderate think tanks called more often to testify. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
Human capital, United States legislators, and Politicians -- United States
Presents a study which employed a human capital model that examines the educational attainment of career politicians and legislators in the United States (U.S.). Development of human capital theory in microeconomics; Application of the union model of legislatures to the U.S. Congress; National average salary figures by profession in the U.S.
Voting abstention and Legislative bodies -- United States
Investigates the determinants of abstention in the United States Congress. Dependence of legislator turnout and abstention on the interaction of the benefits and costs of voting; Use of a negative binomial count model; Ideological polarization of the roll call alternatives.
Thomas L. Brunell, Bernard Grofman, and Samuel Merrill
Public Choice, 2016, 166, 1, 183.
Pivotal politics, US Congress, Supermajoritarian, Party polarization, Conditional party government, and Gridlock interval
Abstract Krehbiel’s (Pivotal politics, 1998) seminal work on pivotal politics in the US Congress emphasizes the importance of supermajoritarian rules and veto players in determining what bills can pass. We illustrate empirically that the volatility of the pivot points has increased markedly since the mid 1970s, and we link changes in pivot volatility to the degree of party polarization. In general, median and supermajority pivots shift considerably more than the overall mean and, when politics is polarized, the congressional median and supermajority pivots can change dramatically when a shift in control occurs. The relative volatility of median and supermajoritarian pivots varies with the degree of polarization and the extent to which there is continuity in party control. We develop a theoretical model to explain the nature of these relationships.
MEMBERSHIP, League of Nations, Majorities, Isolationism, Ratification of treaties, Foreign relations of the United States -- 20th century, Treaty of Versailles (1919), and Voting -- Social aspects
The failure of the United States to join the League of Nations is often considered to be an outcome of isolationist influence. The supermajority requirement of treaty ratification in the US Senate also is blamed for allowing a minority of isolationists to block the will of the majority that supported the treaty. To determine the cause of the failure, I analyze the Senate debate over the treaty using the concepts of the supermajority core and supermajority winset. Using all 157 votes on the treaty, I estimate senatorial positions and the locations of both the status quo and the treaty on the same metric space. From this analysis, I find that isolationists were not influential enough to block the ratification. Instead, President Wilson's unwillingness to compromise is found to have played a critical role in the treaty's defeat. The treaty's defeat thus was not an indication of the power of isolationism. This study contributes to the growing body of literature that debunks claims about the dominance of isolationism in the interwar period. At the same time, the paper demonstrates how the core and winset concepts can be useful in answering substantive collective choice questions. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
Legislation, Government policy, Beer, Consumption tax laws, Decision making in political science, Individuals' preferences, Ideology, and Political affiliation
Nine days after he took office in March 1933, Franklin Roosevelt asked Congress to amend existing federal Prohibition policy so as to allow for the sale and consumption of 3.2% alcohol beer. Over the following 8 days, the so-called “beer bill” was proposed, debated, passed and signed into law. This study analyzes the political decision making behind one of FDR’s earliest New Deal policies. Specifically, we consider how voter preferences, representatives’ ideologies, national party affiliations, and the influence of special interests affected legislative decision making. We find that special interests and party affiliations were particularly important drivers of congressional voting behavior. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
Ideology, United States Congressional elections, 2018, Partisanship, Constituents (Persons), Success, and Political candidates
In examining the factors that contribute to electoral success in congressional elections, legislative scholars often consider the actions of elected representatives; however, other research suggests that one must consider what challengers are (or are not) doing as well. For instance, inexperience and poor funding can significantly inhibit challenger success. We expand this list of potential shortcomings by arguing that ideological congruence with a constituency may be another factor in explaining challenger defeat. Using ideology measures derived from campaign contributions, we find that unsuccessful challengers in the U.S. House are generally more extreme than those who win, but ideological extremity is not a disadvantage to those seeking to represent an extreme constituency. More importantly, our existing political institutions may actually serve to mitigate the already high levels of partisan polarization in Congress. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
United States legislators, Constituents (Persons), Ideology, Representative government -- United States, Politicians -- United States, and Attitude (Psychology)
In this paper, I develop a survey-based measure of district ideology for the House of Representatives. I use this index to document and study ways in which patterns of candidate positioning depart from perfect representation. These findings help distinguish between competing theories of candidate positioning. My findings present evidence against theories that attribute divergence to the preferences of voters and the locations of primary constituencies. My findings are potentially consistent with the policy-motivation and resource theories, which attribute divergence to the polarization of political elites. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
Public spending, Economics, Economic conditions in the United States -- 21st century, and United States. Congress -- Social aspects
Payne (1991a) postulates that there is a 'culture of spending' in the US Congress, whereby members of Congress are socialized to increase their roll-call support for more spending as a function of length of service and exposure to the Washington culture. In this article we develop and test an expanded model of roll-call voting on spending matters, focusing on two potential sources of socialization effects: (1) exposure to the Washington culture of spending, primarily through seniority and proximity to Washington, DC, and (2) previous political experiences developed before members are elected to Congress. Using data for US House members from the 93rd through the 107th Congresses, we estimate a series of models in which we explain National Taxpayer Union scores as a function of seniority, previous political experience, personal attributes, and a range of constituency variables. We find strong and consistent seniority and political experience effects, with senior members and those with extensive political experience more likely to support greater spending than other members. These findings withstand a range of robustness tests. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]