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Title:The Dynamics of Congressional Behavior: Natural Experiments in Roll Call Voting, 1947--1997
Author(s):Nokken, Timothy Peter
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Brian R. Sala
Department / Program:Political Science
Discipline:Political Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):History, United States
Abstract:In my dissertation, I utilize a natural experimental methodology to investigate two broad questions. First, I seek to determine how certain political factors influence members' roll call voting behavior in the United States Congress in the years following WWII. Secondly, I investigate how individuals' roll call voting behavior influences their prospects for reelection. More specifically, I focus upon two factors thought to have an influence on members' roll call voting behavior: political parties and constituencies. I find that members who switch party affiliation while serving in Congress make significant changes in their voting behavior at the time they switch parties, while a subset of members who did not switch parties but resembled the party switchers exhibited no significant changes in their roll call behavior. This finding strongly supports the arguments of scholars who contend parties have a significant and independent influence on the roll call behavior of their members. On the constituency side, I find that some members who voluntarily leave Congress either by retirement or to seek statewide office make statistically significant but extremely modest changes in their voting behavior in their last year in office. To assess the effect of roll call behavior on reelection prospects, I revisit the puzzle of midterm seat losses for House members from the president's party, but at the individual level. While I do not offer a general model of roll call behavior, I argue these findings are consistent with a reputation-based explanation of roll call behavior. Members carefully craft their personal reputations of which roll call behavior is an important component. A reputation-based model also helps to make sense of seemingly contradictory findings: that members make big adjustments to their roll call behavior in some instances, while exhibiting only modest changes in others.
Issue Date:1999
Type:Text
Language:English
Description:172 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1999.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/82605
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9944952
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:1999


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