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GOVT 312: Parties and Campaigns. Lecture 22: Party Cohesion in the Legislature. Measuring the Concept of Party Unity. Roll call voting: All of the votes that occur in Congress are recorded in the Congressional Record, and are now available in electronic form.

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govt 312 parties and campaigns

GOVT 312: Parties and Campaigns

Lecture 22: Party Cohesion in the Legislature

measuring the concept of party unity
Measuring the Concept ofParty Unity
  • Roll call voting: All of the votes that occur in Congress are recorded in the Congressional Record, and are now available in electronic form.
  • Complication: there are many votes where everyone votes in favor of the bill (such as Michael Jordan day). Exclude these.
measuring the concept of party unity3
Measuring the Concept ofParty Unity
  • Party Voting: Percentage of time that a majority of Democrats voted against a majority of Republicans
  • Party Cohesion: Average of percentage of members voting in agreement with a majority of their party.
  • Support of President: percentage of times that members support the position of the president (measured in terms of which party controls presidency)
  • Other Measures: support of party leadership, NOMINATE scores
party voting in the house h p 254
Party Voting in the House(H p. 254)
  • Party voting was comparatively high in the House of Representatives during the era of strong legislative parties in the 1800s.
  • Party voting entered a new era with the revolt against Speaker Cannon in 1910.
  • Party voting rose during the New Deal
  • Party voting declined to a low point in the late 1960s, early 1970s.
  • Party voting increased since, though declined in the most recent years.
party cohesion in the house h p 256
Party Cohesion in the House(H p. 256)
  • Shorter time span on graph: 1961-2004.
  • Cohesion has generally been on the rise
  • Democrats and Republicans have similar party cohesion
    • Democrats more cohesive in the 1980s
    • Republicans more cohesive since 1994
support of president
Support of President
  • Members of president’s party are more supportive of president than other party (duh)
  • Senators are more supportive than House members (Why?)
  • Seen increase of opposition between two parties during Reagan/Bush(41) and Clinton. Slight decrease under Bush(43)
poole and rosenthal nominate scores
Poole and Rosenthal NOMINATE scores
  • Compute the ideology of members of Congress from their roll call votes.
  • See:
  • Also see p.258
the dual nature of representation
The Dual Nature of Representation
  • Representative of the district: Candidates appeal to the median voter of their district. Representatives are district-oriented, building a “home-style” connection with their district to help their reelection. (The Electoral Connection)
  • Representative of the party: if the party label is to mean anything, the party needs to implement coherent policies, some of which may be at odds with the district. (Downs: the median voter)
three reasons why we do not have strong parties in the u s
Three reasons why we do not have strong parties in the U.S.

The Electoral Connection (Mayhew)

  • Districts and primaries mean that “All Politics is Local”
  • Candidates must construct their own campaign organizations
  • Congress does not need to form a cabinet like parliamentary systems
    • Predicts that parties (and indeed Congress as aw whole) only exists to further the reelection needs of the members.
conditional party government
Conditional Party Government
  • Explains the effect on party organization in government that we observe from the patterns in party cohesion, party voting, NOMINATE scores.
  • Theory: When member’s ideology is spread out, members want weak leadership. When ideology is homogenous, members want strong leadership.
  • Explains why the Democrats embarked upon reforms in the early 1970s.
  • Explains why Republicans strengthened the Democratic reforms in the 1990s.
democratic reforms of the 1970s
Democratic reforms of the 1970s
  • Designed to reduce power of conservative chairmen from the South.
  • Increased influence of leadership over committee assignments by creating the Steering and Policy committee. Formerly, assignments were made by the Ways and Means committee.
  • Exception: Speaker given power over rules committee.
  • Terminated seniority system: party caucus would hold secret ballot votes for chairmen.
  • Created more sub-committees and restricted committee chair’s influence over sub-committee chairs.
gingrich reforms of 1995
Gingrich Reforms of 1995
  • Republicans needed to adopt new rules in 1995 since they had not been in the majority since 1954.
  • Increased the weight of votes cast on the Republican Committee on Committees. (Gingrich got 5 votes, Armey 2, everyone else 1)
  • Gingrich given power to appoint Rules Committee
  • Gingrich asserted authority to appoint committee chairs without any approval from party caucus. Violated seniority for loyalty.
  • Increased the use of task forces that bypass the committee system entirely.
state parties
State Parties
  • What determines party cohesion in state parties?
  • Conditional Party Government theory suggests that strong parties will occur in heterogeneous states, when one party is elected from a different constituency base than the other party.