a1 Old Dominion University
Identifying policy status quo locations is a precondition for testing key predictions of many spatial models of legislative politics, but such measures have proved to be extremely difficult to construct. This study applies a novel technique that measures policy locations in relation to legislators’ preferences. The resulting status quo estimates allow for a direct test of the policy consequences predicted by pivotal politics and party cartel theories of legislative politics. The empirical tests indicate that parties interact with pivotal politics to contribute to policy gridlock and shape policy change. By bringing pressure to bear on pivotal politics “pivots” and by blocking policy changes that would “roll” the party, parties increase the range of policies subject to gridlock in the American political system.
(Online publication March 02 2011)
Michael Peress, Bill Keech, John Patty, Otto Davis, Dean Lacy, Bryan McQuide, Glen Sussman, Alan Wiseman, and three anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments at various stages of development. Data collection for this research was supported by the Old Dominion University Research Foundation.