A War of Words: Explaining the Duration of the Filibuster in the U.S. Senate, 1919-1993
Charles R. Shipan
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Political Science
April 15, 2006
In recent decades, the use of the filibuster has exploded, leading to charges that it is being used increasingly for trivial purposes. In this paper we investigate whether the use of the filibuster has changed over time, and in particular whether changes making it easier to achieve cloture have increased or decreased the extent to which filibusters are informative about the intensity of those involved. Inferences about duration as a measure of intensity are derived from a game theoretic model of the war of attrition. One advantage of this model is that it can be used to derive explicit functional forms for the statistical work. The results suggest that the filibuster is, if anything, even more informative today than in the past. We also find that the very elements of the filibuster that journalists and others have found so alarming are signs not of the weakness of cloture reform, but its strength. The results thus expand our understanding of the strategic interactions that take place between majorities and minorities.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 40
Keywords: Filibuter, Senate, Cloture, Positive Political Theory, Congress, Game Theory, Empirical Testing
JEL Classification: H1
Date posted: October 14, 2007
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