Institutional context and party power: Member participation and leadership strategy in the lame-duck congressional era

Jeffery A. Jenkins, Timothy P. Nokken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The authors examine how institutional context affects political decision making in Congress by investigating party leaders' agenda construction strategies and members' roll-call participation across regular and lame-duck sessions in the pre-Twentieth Amendment House (1877-1933). The authors find evidence to suggest that party leaders pursued relatively more partisan agendas in lame-duck sessions and did so successfully. Next, we investigate the effects such agendas had on roll-call participation. The authors find that returning (reelected) members significantly decreased their abstention levels, while departing (defeated and retiring) members significantly increased their abstention levels. Yet the authors also find that departing members could be drawn to participate on certain types of roll-call votes even in the face of strong incentives to shirk. Party leaders rely on the generally higher levels of participation by returning members as well as the selective participation of departing members to overcome "participatory agency loss" and pass surprisingly partisan lame-duck agendas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)724-753
Number of pages30
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Volume39
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2011

Keywords

  • Lame Duck era
  • U.S. Congress
  • abstention
  • agenda setting
  • party leadership
  • roll-call participation
  • roll-call voting

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