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A Dime’s Worth of Difference?. Party Governance in America. I. The questions of party governance. Do parties behave differently once in government? In a two-party system, are the two parties really all that different? Since American parties are weak, do their members even follow party lines?.

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a dime s worth of difference

A Dime’s Worth of Difference?

Party Governance in America

i the questions of party governance
I. The questions of party governance
  • Do parties behave differently once in government?
  • In a two-party system, are the two parties really all that different?
  • Since American parties are weak, do their members even follow party lines?
ii do parties matter the party policy connection in congress
II. Do parties matter? The Party-Policy Connection in Congress
  • Roll-call votes = Behavioral measure of ideology (actions instead of words)
    • Limited to 109th/110th Congresses (2005-2006 and 2007-2008)
    • Controversial issues only (split is between 40-60 and 60-40)
    • High party unity on these votes (party line)
g summary general differences between parties in congress
G. Summary: General differences between parties in Congress
  • Republicans favor trade (except Cuba) and military expansion, oppose international courts and environmental treaties
  • Republicans oppose abortion, gay rights, government social welfare programs, services to nonresidents, services to non-English speaking
  • Republicans favor business and higher-income workers over lower-income workers or environmental protection, and oppose taxes and unions
  • Republicans seek to expand gun rights and property rights but not speech rights or 4th Amendment rights
  • Democrats are opposite on each of these dimensions
h caveat party unity varies by representative weak party discipline
H. Caveat: Party Unity Varies By Representative (Weak Party Discipline)
  • Example: Republican Senators from Maine…
  • Surprise: Despite reputation for unity, Republican scores are lower than Democrat scores in 110th Congress
iii parties at the state level
III. Parties at the State Level
  • Traditional finding: State party control has little effect on state policy
    • Possible explanation: State parties adapt to voters in the state and move to the center once elected.
      • Result: Policy tends to follow ideology of state voters rather than which party controls government
      • Examples: Pro-life Democrats in PA, pro-choice Republicans in NY
    • Possible exception: Highly competitive states (single-party states give ruling party no incentive to implement policy)
findings
Findings
  • State ideology determines state party positions
  • Republicans in liberal states more liberal than Democrats in conservative states!
iv unanswered questions
IV. Unanswered Questions
  • To what extent does ideology predict party positions?
  • To what extent are divisions between party elites mirrored in the general public?
  • How do states’ political cultures and ideologies differ?
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