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Party & Policy in Congress. Party Unity. Definition Issues Explanations/Implications. Unity Definition. Congressional Quarterly has developed and publishes annually and sometimes semi-annually data on party unity in Congress

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Party & Policy in Congress


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    Presentation Transcript
    1. Party & Policy in Congress

    2. Party Unity • Definition • Issues • Explanations/Implications

    3. Unity Definition • Congressional Quarterly has developed and publishes annually and sometimes semi-annually data on party unity in Congress • Unity defined as any vote in which at least 50% of the Democrats vote against at least 50% of the Republicans

    4. Polarization • Another way is to view it as polarization. That is, differences in average position taken by members of either party • To what extent do member positions differ on some scale (ideological or otherwise)

    5. Issues • 2 Main types of issues account for increases in party unity: • Questions related to government’s role in the economy, eg: • Taxation • Tarrifs • Regulation • The polarization based on liberal/conservative continuum

    6. Issues • Geographic/Regional differences • Slavery (N/S; 1840s-civil war) • Bimetalism (E/W; Urban/Rural 1880s-1890s) • Civil Rights (N/W; 1950s-1970s) • As these issues recede, the main variable becomes government and redistribution, and on that we see heightened party polarization

    7. Issues • Polarization in Senate higher now than at any point since Reconstruction • Polarization in the House only superceded by 1895-1896 and 1905-1906.

    8. Explanations • Gerrymandering • Party realignment of 1980 • Increased polarization in the electorate • Overall decline in party membership in the electorate • Those in the party though are more ideologically committed • Party in government mirrors the party in the electorate

    9. Explanations • Expanded power of northern Democratic party in the 1960s • Reaction by southern Democrats in realignment to Republican party • Reaction by Democrats to 1992 Republican takeover of Congress and Clinton impeachment • Reaction by Democrats to 2000 election