The Effect of the Seventeenth Amendment on the Party Composition of the Senate: A Counterfactual Analysis

60 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2011  

Charles Stewart III

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science

Wendy J. Schiller

Brown University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: March 25, 2011

Abstract

We explore two counterfactuals to assess the effects of the 17th Amendment on the party composition of the U.S. Senate. We improve upon past analysis by (1) using multiple indicators of mass partisan support before 1914 and (2) estimating election outcomes every two years. We find, contrary to past claims, that had direct election been instituted before 1914, the composition of the Senate would not have been much different from the historical pattern of membership. The most important effect of direct election was felt in the 1930s - without direct election, Democratic majorities would have been much narrower during the New Deal.

Suggested Citation

Stewart III, Charles and Schiller, Wendy J., The Effect of the Seventeenth Amendment on the Party Composition of the Senate: A Counterfactual Analysis (March 25, 2011). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1795729 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1795729

Charles Stewart III (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

Wendy J. Schiller

Brown University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 1844
Providence, RI 02912
United States
401-863-1569 (Phone)

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