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Is the Senate More Liberal than the House? Another Look

Bernard Grofman, Robert Griffin and Amihai Glazer
Legislative Studies Quarterly
Vol. 16, No. 2 (May, 1991), pp. 281-295
Published by: Washington University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/439982
Page Count: 15
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Is the Senate More Liberal than the House? Another Look
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Abstract

Samuel Kernell wrote in 1973 that "conventional wisdom claims that the Senate is more liberal than the House." This greater liberalism has been attributed to both institutional and demographic differences in the constituency base of each house. Confirming an hypothesis of Kernell (1973), we argue that the party composition of each branch is a central determinant of the relative liberalism of the two branches. However, even when party and demographic variables are controlled, we find a small but statistically significant institutional effect—with the Senate on average the more liberal body from 1960 to 1989. This finding is further confirmed when we examine data on ADA scores of representatives and senators from the states that elect a single representative—states for which House and senatorial constituency are identical. In these states, we find that Democratic senators are on average slightly to the left of Democratic representatives and Republican senators are also on average slightly to the left of Republican representatives.

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