Congress: A Political-Economic History of Roll Call Voting / Edition 1

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In this wide-ranging and innovative study, Keith T. Poole and Howard Rosenthal use 200 years of congressional roll call voting as a framework for a new interpretation of important episodes in American political and economic history. Despite the wide array of issues faced by legislators over the past two hundred years, the authors have found that over eighty percent of a legislator's voting decisions can be attributed to a consistent and predictable ideological position ranging from ultraliberalism to ultraconservatism. Using a simple geometric model of voting, the authors shows that roll call voting has a very simple structure and for most of American history roll call voting patterns are very stable. This stability is based upon two great issues - the extent of government regulation or intervention in the economy, and race. Poole and Rosenthal also examine alternative models of roll call voting and find them lacking. In several detailed case studies, they show that constituency interest or pocketbook voting models fail to account for voting on minimum wages, strip mining, food stamps, and railroad regulation. Because of its scope and controversial findings which challenge established political and economic models used to explain Congressional behavior, Congress will be essential reading for both political scientists, economists, and historians.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"For any researcher contemplating an investigation of congressional roll call voting behavior, Poole and Rosenthal's book is a "must read." Their approach is unique and differs from that adhered to by many economists....Their work is well known among political scientists and deserves to be known by economists and historians as well."--The Journal of Economic History

"The book is highly recommended for anyone interested in the history of roll-call voting and the careful analysis of legislator ideology."-- ac Heckelman, Department of Economics, Wake Forest University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195142426
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.11 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Keith T. Poole is Professor of Politics and Political Economy at Carnegie Mellon University. Howard Rosenthal is Roger Williams Straus Professor of Social Sciences at Princeton University.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction: The Liberal/Conservative Structure 3
2 The Spatial Model and Congressional Voting 11
3 The Spatial Model: Accuracy and Dimensionality 27
4 The Spatial Model: Stability, Replacement and Polarization 58
5 Party Realignment in Congress 86
6 Issues, Constituency Interests, and the Basic Space 115
7 Sophisticated Voting and Agenda Manipulation 146
8 Roll Call Voting and Interest-Group Ratings 165
9 Committees and Roll Calls 184
10 Abstention from Roll Call Voting 210
11 The Unidimensional Congress 227
Appendix A The NOMINATE Method of Estimating Spatial Models of Voting 233
Appendix B The Dimensionality of Spatial Voting 252
Appendix C Roll Call Coding Categories 259
Notes 263
References 281
Index 291
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