Rules to Live By: Agenda Control and the Partisan Use of Special Rules in the House (with Dr. David Rohde--Duke University)
The main question driving this research centers around the ability of the majority party to effectively use the House Committee on Rules to control the legislative agenda. First, has partisan conflict increased on special rules votes, indicating that both parties find rules votes important in controlling legislative outcomes? Has this led to greater control over the amendment process by the majority party? In other words, is the majority able to manipulate the rules process in such a way to allow their members some success on amendments, while effectively eliminating success on amendments by the minority? If so, what patterns might we expect from policy outcomes on domestic, foreign, or defense policy? Additionally, have changes in which party controls the majority in the House led to changes in the use of the Committee on Rules to control the House agenda? By looking at data on special rules from the 101st to the 110th Congress, we find that as the parties became increasingly homogenous over time, partisan conflict over special rules votes grew as well. After the reforms, with the Democratic majority more homogeneous and the leadership having more influence over committees, the content of legislation coming out of committees became steadily more satisfactory to the majority (and less so to the minority) over time. These expectations did not change with the advent of a Republican majority, and the subsequent results did not change either. The Gingrich and Hastert speakerships continued the trend of increasing levels of partisanship on rules votes and majority control of satisfactory committee outcomes. We also find that a switch back to Democratic control in 2006, did not lead to lower levels of partisanship. The data suggest that Democrats were just as, if not more so, successful in using rules to control the legislative agenda during the 110th Congress as the Republicans were in the 109th.
This paper is published in the journal Congress and the Presidency, Volume 39, Issue1, pgs. 28-50.
Rules to Live By: Agenda Control and the Partisan Use of Special Rules in the House
Current Research Projects
Ideology and Issue Attitudes
This paper argues that issues play an important role in determining many individuals’ ideological identification. A wealth of research has been written on how ideological identification helps individuals form opinions about political issues. The results from this analysis suggest that for some people the causal relationship works in reverse, fueled by a focus on cues from political elites and the media. The analysis shows that when taking into account a reciprocal relationship between self-reported ideology and positions taken on particular political issues, the link from issue positions to ideology is consistently significant for a number of different model specifications and the link from ideology to issue positions disappears. The data suggest that individuals use issue positions to structure their ideological orientations, and not the reverse.
The Reciprocal Effects of Ideology and Issue Attitudes
Judges on TV: Candidates and Role Orientation (With Dr. Frederick Wood-Coastal Carolina University)
Scholars who have studied state judicial elections have frequently commented on the new style of campaigns. This change has been aided by an increase in the amount of money contributed to judicial candidates and the United States Supreme Court decision in Republican Party of Minn. v. White, which removed ethical restrictions on the speech of judicial candidates. However, to date there has been little research on how judicial candidates present themselves to voters. In this paper, we will examine the television advertisements aired by judicial candidates to state high courts during the 2006 elections to determine what information is presented to the voters. Specifically, we will determine whether judicial candidates employ role orientations in their advertisements, such as law interpreter, law-maker, adjudicator, or administrator. The concept of role orientation has been examined in previous studies of judges as an attempt to explain their decision-making behavior (i.e. Gibson 1978). This paper will describe how scholars have defined the roles of judges and determine whether candidates present these roles to the public as part of their campaigns. In addition to role orientations, we will examine the types of information that candidates are sharing with voters based upon other characteristics such as partisan affiliation, incumbency status, gender, and race. Finally, we will determine whether candidate, race, or state level variables influence the decision to mention role orientation in their advertisements.
Judges on TV: Candidates and Role Orientation
The Effects of Perceptions of Inequality and Discrimination (with Dr. Elisabeth Gerber--University of Michigan and Dr. Charles Ballard--Michigan State University)
We propose a theory of opinion formation in which individuals’ public policy preferences are fundamentally shaped by their perceptions of inequality and discrimination. We test our hypotheses with data from two unique surveys, with a total of over 2800 respondents. The surveys contain questions about preferences on a wide range of public policies, including foreign, domestic, and regulatory policies, and policies toward civil and human rights. The surveys also include questions about respondents’ perceptions of the extent and sources of inequality in economic relationships (e.g., between blacks and whites and between men and women), the respondent’s ideology and party identification, and personal and background characteristics. Our results indicate that perceptions of economic inequality and discrimination play an important role in explaining the variation in reported policy preferences, especially for issues on which the degree of polarization is relatively small.
Public Policy Preferences and Perceptions of Inequality and Discrimination
State Policy Priorities and Congressional Voting Behavior (with Dr. Gregory Robinson--State University of New York Binghamton)
This paper is an attempt to take Jacoby and Schneider’s (2001) research on state policy priorities in a new direction. Primarily their focus has been on using priorities as a dependent variable, seeking to explain what factors influence state policy priorities. Here, we use state policy priorities as an independent variable, attempting to shed light on another factor that influences congressional voting behavior while hopefully extending the importance and scope of the study of state policy priorities. We develop a theory that members of the House pay attention to state policy priorities based upon the role that policy priorities play in representing constituent preferences on specific policy areas. Therefore, the voting behavior of House members on similar issues in Congress should represent their states’ priorities toward these same policy areas.
State Policy Priorities and Their Effect on House Voting Behavior
Political Institutions and Political Efficacy
This paper seeks to explain political efficacy among citizens within political systems on a comparative level within an institutional context. I argue that efficacy is, at least in part, a function of the types of democratic institutions that are in place across countries. Institutions that provide easier access, or more specifically, more direct access to public officials and governmental agencies will produce higher levels of efficacy within the citizenry. I evaluate efficacy at the external regime-based level (Shingles 1988) using data on twenty-five democratic countries from the 2003 Comparative Study of Electoral Systems micro-level data set. By analyzing the data with an ordered-probit model I find that institutional arrangements do matter in determining the efficacy levels of citizens and in almost every case in the theoretical direction predicted. These findings indicate that efficacy may be a function of the institutional arrangements within democratic regimes, and points to future research that shows these efficacy levels may lead to higher or lower levels of system support.
Political Institutions and Political Efficacy
The Effect of Political Advertising on Voter Participation in Judicial Campaigns (with Dr. Frederick Wood--Coastal Carolina University)
This paper examines the relationship between campaign information derived from television advertisements and voter participation in state judicial elections. Using a unique dataset of elections from 2000 – 2004, we conclude that information provided to the voter in the form of television advertising has a positive effect on rates of voter participation, which is measured by ballot roll off. This study suggests that the modernization of judicial election campaigns may alleviate some of the concerns of low voter participation.
The Effect of Political Advertising on Voter Participation in Judicial Campaigns, 2000-2004