Introduction: Assessing the Impact of Parties in the U.S. Senate

Nathan W. Monroe, Jason M. Roberts and David W. Rohde

in Why Not Parties?

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780226534879
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226534947 | DOI:
Introduction: Assessing the Impact of Parties in the U.S. Senate

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According to the conventional view of legislative organization and decision making in the U.S. Senate, party effects in the Senate is something of an oxymoron. While research on the House has been both abundant and party-focused in recent years, the more sparse literature on the Senate still largely treats parties as secondary considerations in a chamber dominated by individual senators leveraging a decentralized procedural environment. This chapter reconsiders this view. Motivated by the disparate theoretical explanations of the House and Senate, the naked-eye partisanship of the contemporary Senate, and the need for more research on the Senate in general, it asks: to what degree (if any) should we expect party effects in the U.S. Senate, and what is the evidence to support the expectations? The chapter first discusses briefly the recent political science literature on party effects in Congress generally and in the House in particular, to set the context for the consideration of the Senate. Next it considers some of the challenges that parties face in trying to work their will in the Senate, and the challenges that scholars face in studying the Senate more generally. It then offers some observations about the partisan climate in the Senate of the past several years, and concludes with a discussion of the limited work on parties in the Senate. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.

Keywords: U.S. Senate; party effects; Congress; political parties; partisanship

Chapter.  8204 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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