The Punctuated Origins of Senate Polarization
Legislative Studies Quarterly, Forthcoming
34 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2013 Last revised: 19 Apr 2013
Date Written: April 17, 2013
This paper uses a new dynamic ideal point estimation method that incorporates smoothing techniques to construct a more detailed account of Senate polarization. The results reveal that the Senate polarized in two distinct phases. Member replacement accounts for nearly all of the increase from the early 1970’s through the mid-1990’s after which ideological adaptation emerges as the dominant force behind polarization. In addition, I find that a few brief periods of intensified partisanship account for most of the increase in polarization since the mid-1990’s, suggesting that these episodes have had significant and lasting effects.
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