Procedural Contexts, Party Strategy, and Conditional Party Voting in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1971–2000

Authors

  • Jason M. Roberts,

  • Steven S. Smith


Jason M. Roberts is a Graduate Student in the Department of Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis, Campus Box 1027, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130 (jmrobert@artsci.wustl.edu). Steven S. Smith is Kate M. Gregg Professor of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis, Campus Box 1027, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO. 63130 (smith@wc.wustl.edu).

Abstract

In this article, we provide a critical review of the evidence and arguments about party polarization in the House of Representatives during the late 20th century. We show that inferences about party polarization are significantly affected by voting reform in the early 1970s. We observe that a decomposed roll-call record alters our view of the timing of changes in party polarization and therefore requires that we reconsider explanations of the trend. We revisit explanations of party polarization and establish a strong case for placing substantial emphasis on party strategies in explanations of party polarization in floor behavior during the 1980s and 1990s.

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