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The Effects of Party and Preferences on Congressional Roll-Call Voting

Stephen Ansolabehere, James M. Snyder, Jr. and Charles Stewart III
Legislative Studies Quarterly
Vol. 26, No. 4 (Nov., 2001), pp. 533-572
Published by: Washington University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/440269
Page Count: 40
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The Effects of Party and Preferences on Congressional Roll-Call Voting
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Abstract

We assess the importance of parties in Congress by comparing roll-call voting behavior against the preferences of members of the House as expressed in surveys conducted during the 1996 and 1998 elections. The surveys were conducted by Project Vote Smart. Our findings support two key conclusions. First, both party and preferences mattered in predicting roll-call behavior in the 103d, 104th, and 105th Congresses. Second, the independent effects of party were present in only about 40% of roll calls. The incidence of party effects was highest on close votes, procedural votes, and key "party" issues. It was lowest on matters of conscience, such as abortion, and "off-the-first-dimension" issues, such as affirmative action and gun control.

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