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Uncertainty and Roll-Call Voting in Lame-Duck Sessions of the U.S. House, 1969–2010


  • I would like to thank Sarah Binder, Craig Goodman, Keith Poole, Frank Thames, and the anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions. Mike Crespin and Keith Poole generously shared data which I utilized in my analyses.


Lame-duck sessions of Congress have become increasingly common of late. Such sessions are marked by higher levels of ideological and participatory shirking among departing members, creating a more uncertain legislative environment. I investigate the consequences of such shirking on coalition formation and roll-call behavior. I analyze House roll-call votes held in the 12 congresses that convened lame-duck sessions from 1969 to 2010 (91st to 111th Congresses) to assess how roll-call behavior changes across sessions. I find subtle but statistically significant changes across sessions consistent with claims regarding greater uncertainty in roll-call voting in lame-duck sessions.