Comparing Cosponsorship and Roll-Call Ideal Points

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Abstract

We use bill cosponsorship and roll-call vote data to compare legislators' revealed preferences in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Argentine Chamber of Deputies. We estimate ideal points from bill cosponsorship data using principal-component analysis on an agreement matrix that included information on all bills introduced in the U.S. House (1973–2000) and Argentine Chamber (1983–2002). The ideal-point estimates of legislators' revealed preferences based on cosponsorship data strongly correlate with similar estimates derived from roll-call vote data. Also, cosponsorship activity in the U.S. House has lower dimensionality than cosponsorship has in the Argentine Chamber. We explain this lower discrimination as a function of individual- and district-level factors in both countries.

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