Examining Parties as Procedural Cartels: Evidence from the U.S. States


  • Very few members retired or left on their own accord during this time period in these states. However, those cases were dropped as they represent too few to systematically analyze as a separate group yet are theoretically distinct from those affected by term limits.


Procedural cartel theory states that the majority party exerts influence over legislative outcomes through agenda control. This research tests predictions from the party cartel theory in five state legislatures. I assess party influence through comparison of term-limited and nonterm-limited legislators. I argue that term-limited legislators (who are not seeking elective office) are no longer susceptible to party pressure, making them the perfect means to determine the existence of party influence. The results demonstrate that party influence is present in these legislatures. I find that party influence is magnified on the procedural, rather than final-passage, voting record which is precisely where procedural cartel theory predicts. I find lower levels of ideological consistency and party discipline among members for whom the party leadership offers the least—those leaving elective office. These results provide support for party cartel theory, demonstrating further evidence of how parties matter in modern democracies.