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.

Suggested Citation

Bonica, Adam, The Punctuated Origins of Senate Polarization (April 17, 2013). Legislative Studies Quarterly, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Adam Bonica (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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