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Second Street Gangs. Ad-Hoc Policy Commissions in the Senate SPSA 2013. Kristen Coopie Allen, Zachary James Auter , Ian Palmer Cook University of Pittsburgh Jennifer Nicoll Victor George Mason University. First, our definition.

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second street gangs
Second Street Gangs

Ad-Hoc Policy Commissions in the Senate

SPSA 2013

Kristen Coopie Allen,

Zachary James Auter,

Ian Palmer Cook

University of Pittsburgh

Jennifer Nicoll Victor

George Mason University

first our definition
First, our definition

Bipartisan, ad-hoc, policy-specific coalitions with select membership, attempting to find a solution to a policy problem

recent notable gangs the gang of 14
Recent notable gangs: The Gang of 14

Worked to avert “nuclear option” on Senate filibuster

recent notable gangs gang of 6
Recent notable gangs: Gang of 6

Worked on health care reform

gangs sidestep the committee structure and all its problems
Gangs sidestep the committee structure (and all its problems)
  • Policy gangs are a preference discovery and aggregation mechanism
    • Committees have failed to produce policy agreeable to the whole Senate
    • On contentious issues, committees may be representative of the chamber
    • Senators from outside the committees will have information about the chamber
  • But this does not explain why Senators may join
theory and hypotheses connections to other senators
Theory and hypotheses: Connections to other senators
  • Gangs offer senators substantive & strategic advantage to policy negotiation
  • Greater policy expertise in relevant policy area and who have many connections to other senators on a given topic
    • Operationalizing connectedness: Eigenvector Centrality in Senate committee network

H1: Senators more central in the committee membership network are more likely to join a policy gang.

theory and hypotheses bipartisanship
Theory and hypotheses:bipartisanship
  • Major gangs have had even numbers, and not by chance
  • Gangs have no chairs doled out by party leadership as rewards or favors
    • Gathering information on the other party’s preferences requires collaborating on an even playing field
  • A stalled policy issue that has been stalled and gained enough prominence that a gang has formed to confront it sheds doubt on the possibility of the committee members representing the full range of the chamber’s views

H2: Ideological moderates are more likely to join gangs than ideological extremists.

theory and hypotheses costs of membership
Theory and hypotheses: costs of membership
  • Publicity for gang membership has both positive and negative consequences
  • Party control over assets necessary for running in an election: breaking from the party line could be costly
  • But cost would be lessened the more secure the senator is in her seat

H3: The greater a senator’s voteshare in their most recent reelection, the greater their likelihood of joining a gang.

H4: The more terms a senator has served, the more likely the senator is to join a gang.

data and methods
Data and methods
  • DV: Did a Senator join a gang or not?
    • Pooled by Congressional session; not over time
  • Employ Rare Events Logitto account for small ratio of gang members in each Congress
  • Robust standard errors
  • Plot Predicted probability of joining gang
  • Encouraging, but not confirmatory, results
  • Need to increase the sample size by expanding the range of Congresses
    • Also, expand the definition? (Was there another name for them?)
  • Gather richer information on the gang members (e.g., employment history, previous shared committee posts)
  • Explore extensions:
    • Use gang membership as an explanatory variable for electoral success