Measuring Variations in Party Unity Voting: An Assessment of Agenda Eﬀects
Party Politics, Forthcoming
34 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2011
Date Written: April 9, 2011
Measures of party divisiveness have been widely used in scholarly literature for a variety of different purposes. However, conventional measures of party divisiveness, such as the percentage of party votes in a particular Congress, fail to consider important changes in the agenda from one Congress to the next. We introduce a measure that controls for such changes, drawing attention to the affect that agenda change has on observed party divisiveness and providing a more accurate account of party divisiveness across time. We analyze party voting in the U.S. House of Representatives between 1953 and 2004, and ﬁnd that a sizable amount of the ﬂuctuation in party divisiveness identified by conventional measures is mitigated using this method. While we examine party voting in the U.S. House, our theory and method is applicable to similar measures used in the study of other legislatures (e.g., Rice and Attina indices).
Keywords: Congress, Party Unity, Voting
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