Previous versions of this article were presented at the 2002 American Political Science Association Meeting and the 2003 Midwest Political Science Association Meeting. The authors gratefully acknowledge the following individuals who shared comments and/or data: Scott Adler, Sarah Binder, Dan Carpenter, Joe Cooper, David Epstein, Gerald Gamm, Alan Gerber, Tim Groseclose, John Ferejohn, Jennifer Hill, Lewis Kornhauser, Keith Krehbiel, Forrest Maltzman, David Mayhew, Nolan McCarty, Monika Nalepa, Sharyn O'Halloran, Eric Petersen, Keith Poole, Elizabeth Rybicki, Steve Smith, Jim Snyder, Charles Stewart, Barry Weingast, and participants in seminars at Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, NYU, Stanford, UCLA, and UCSD. We are also grateful to Mike Murakami, Kathryn Pearson, and John Sides for valuable research assistance. G.J.Wawro acknowledges the generous support of a John M. Olin Faculty Fellowship awarded by the National Association of Scholars.
Where's the Pivot? Obstruction and Lawmaking in the Pre-cloture Senate
Article first published online: 7 SEP 2004
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 48, Issue 4, pages 758–774, October 2004
How to Cite
Wawro, G. J. and Schickler, E. (2004), Where's the Pivot? Obstruction and Lawmaking in the Pre-cloture Senate. American Journal of Political Science, 48: 758–774. doi: 10.1111/j.0092-5853.2004.00100.x
- Issue published online: 7 SEP 2004
- Article first published online: 7 SEP 2004
This article employs a three-pronged approach to test competing theories regarding the size of coalitions required for passing legislation prior to the adoption of cloture in the Senate. We compare predictions generated by a model derived from the theory of pivotal politics with those generated by the theory of universalism. To test these predictions, we first examine coalition sizes on the passage of significant legislation. Second, we analyze the size of coalitions on dilatory motions as a predictor of success in defeating legislation. Finally, we examine coalition sizes on tariff legislation to assess the degree to which politics in this policy area were majoritarian. We find that a pivotal politics-based model incorporating the median voter and veto pivot generally outperforms universalism in explaining lawmaking patterns in the pre-cloture Senate. Narrow majorities were quite successful at legislating, although minority obstruction fostered uncertainty about the threshold required to force a final vote when adjournment loomed.