Partisan Roll Rates in a Nonpartisan Legislature

Posted: 17 Jun 2008

See all articles by Keith Krehbiel

Keith Krehbiel

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Date Written: April 2007


Credible tests of hypotheses about power require credible measures of power. Roll rates purport to measure the relative power of the parties in legislatures. This article develops and employs a baseline model to assess roll rates. Although on the surface roll rates have some intuitively satisfying properties, beneath the surface they have several previously unrecognized shortcomings. Analysis based on stochastic, strictly preference-governed voting within nominal but behaviorally inconsequential parties suggests that inferences based on roll rates overstate party influence and exaggerate the influence of the majority party relative to the minority. Analysis of data from the U.S. House of Representatives produces findings consistent with the nonpartisan model.

Suggested Citation

Krehbiel, Keith, Partisan Roll Rates in a Nonpartisan Legislature (April 2007). The Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization, Vol. 23, Issue 1, pp. 1-23, 2007, Available at SSRN: or

Keith Krehbiel (Contact Author)

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

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