The Journal of Politics


A Unified Theory of U.S. Lawmaking: Preferences, Institutions, and Party Discipline

Fang-Yi Chioua1 and Lawrence S. Rothenberga2

a1 Academia Sinica, Taipei

a2 University of Rochester


We develop a unified theory of lawmaking that integrates preferences, institutional features, and imperfect party discipline. This model both parsimoniously subsumes numerous extant models and allows for examination of heretofore unexplored equilibria behavior. To demonstrate this, we pinpoint what effects the kinds of changes that reformers often focus on—strengthening parties and loosening the filibuster rule—might have on the equilibrium gridlock interval and generate a number of nonintuitive results. We also find that our unified model's empirical implications are consistent with the gridlock pattern found in the data. We conclude that this model is theoretically important and empirically relevant.

(Received January 15 2008)

(Accepted November 22 2008)


Fang-Yi Chiou is assistant researcher, Institute of Political Science, Academia Sinica, Taipei.

Lawrence S. Rothenberg is Corrigan-Minehan professor of political science, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627.