Roll‐Call Votes

Sean Theriault, Patrick Hickey and Abby Blass

in The Oxford Handbook of the American Congress

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199559947
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

Roll‐Call Votes

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Voting is the most visible and potentially vulnerable act that members of Congress perform. Roll-call votes occur in the open and are recorded for posterity in the public record. Roll-call votes are specifically influenced by the political, financial, and electoral support of party leaders, donors, constituents, and interest groups. In addition to these influences, voting of the members of Congress is also constrained in two ways: constitutional constraints and institutional constraints. These two constraints not only affect how the members vote but more importantly on what they vote. This article outlines influences on roll-call voting, discusses resolved debates in the literature and identifies fertile ground for future research on roll-call votes. In the first section, variables which affect voting behavior of Congress such as the constituents, the political parties, the presidents, and the interest groups are examined. The second section looks at literature that elucidates on the different influences behind roll-call votes and the effect of party control on the legislative agenda. The last section discusses future research areas such as the effect of variation of roll-call votes in member decision-making, the difference of roll-call decisions to member decisions on other forms of legislative participation, the effect of external stimuli on member decision-making, and the effect of negative agenda power.

Keywords: voting; roll-call votes; constitutional constraints; institutional constraints; roll-call voting influences; constituents; political parties; interest groups; party control; legislative agenda

Article.  10786 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Comparative Politics

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