The Ties That Bind: Coalitions in Congress

John D. Wilkerson and Barry Pump

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

The Ties That Bind: Coalitions in Congress

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  • Politics
  • US Politics
  • Political Institutions



A coalition exists when two or more individuals or groups join forces to achieve something that could not be otherwise achieved alone. Coalitions in Congress take various forms: geographic, distributive, ideological, partisan, and programmatic to name a few. Coalitions are the result of political interests and policy preferences, both at the national and local level. Through coalitions, issues gain a spot on the legislative agenda, and laws are passed. This article discusses what coalitions are and how they differ. The article begins with a discussion on enduring multi-issue coalitions, with emphasis on political parties and the Conservative Coalition. It also discusses multi-issue transitory coalitions, with focus on coalitions formed around distributive considerations. The second section discusses entrepreneur-led coalitions. It focuses on role of policy entrepreneur in advancing a particular policy. The article concludes with a discussion on enduring coalitions that revolve around particular issues, as characterized by advocacy coalitions and policy subsystems.

Keywords: coalition; Coalitions in Congress; enduring multi-issue coalitions; political parties; Conservative Coalition; multi-issue transitory coalitions; entrepreneur-led coalitions; policy entrepreneur; advocacy coalitions; policy subsystems

Article.  10158 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Institutions

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