Competing Gridlock Models and Status Quo Policies


(Link to Political Analysis.) Spatial theories of lawmaking predict that legislative productivity is increasing in the number of status quo policies that lie outside of the gridlock interval, but be- cause locations of status quo policies are difficult to measure, previous empirical tests of gridlock theories rely on an auxiliary assumption that the distribution of status quo points is fixed and uniform. This assumption is at odds with the theories being tested, as it ignores the history dependence of lawmaking. We provide an alternative method for testing competing theories by estimating structural models that explicitly account for temporal dependence in a theoretically consistent way. Our analysis suggests that legislative productivity depends both on parties and supermajority pivots, and we find patterns of productivity consistent with a weaker, contingent form of party influence than found in previous work. Parties appear to exert agenda power only on highly salient legislation rather than strongly influencing outcomes through voting pressure and party unity.

Author: Jonathan Woon, University of Pittsburgh; Ian Palmer Cook, University of Pittsburgh

Formal Theory, Legislative, Published, Simulation   :   May 23, 2013 9:05 PM  :  read more »

About the Author

Ian P. Cook is a Ph.D. student at the University of Pittsburgh, studying American Politics. He has also been a researcher with the RAND Corporation. No material on this site implies endorsement by either institution.