A Bridge to Somewhere: Mapping State and Congressional Ideology on a Cross-institutional Common Space



Researchers face two major problems when applying ideal point estimation techniques to state legislatures. First, longitudinal roll-call data are scarce. Second, even when such data exist, scaling ideal points within a single state is an inadequate approach. No comparisons can be made between these estimates and those for other state legislatures or for Congress. Our project provides a solution. We exploit a new comparative dataset of state legislative roll calls to generate ideal points for legislators. Taking advantage of the fact that state legislators sometimes go on to serve in Congress, we create a common ideological scale. Using these bridge actors, we estimate state legislative ideal points in congressional common space for 11 states. We present our results and illustrate how these scores can be used to address important topics in state and legislative politics.