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Other Side of Gridlock, The

Policy Stability and Supermajoritarianism in U.S. Lawmaking

Manabu Saeki

Publication Year: 2010

A detailed study of political gridlock in Congress, offering an alternative perspective for evaluating its persistence and charting a course for change. Drawing upon a wealth of congressional data from 1953 through 2006, this study offers new insights into the politics of gridlock, one of the more contentious issues in Washington, D.C., since the early 1990s. Previous analyses have focused on either the volume of enacted law or the ratio of enacted legislation to the entire legislative agenda. Manabu Saeki departs substantially from these approaches by looking at the policy content of enacted laws while defining gridlock as an inability to change policy. He asks, why has there been so much policy stability? Saeki looks closely at party control, as do previous studies, but he also examines the ideological configuration of the bipartisan “supermajority.”

Published by: State University of New York Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. iii-iv


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p. vii


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pp. ix-xi

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pp. xiii-xiv

This book is about policy stability, or lack of policy change, in the U.S. government. When I was a graduate student a few years ago, the potential relationship between divided government and the so-called gridlock was a ubiquitous and controversial issue in such courses...

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Chapter 1 Introduction

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pp. 1-17

On November 4, 2004, two days after the GOP triumph both in the presidential and Congressional elections, the reelected president George W. Bush held a press conference and emphasized what he considered to be a mandate emanating from the electoral results....

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Chapter 2 Gridlock and Policy Stability

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pp. 19-34

David Mayhew’s Divided We Govern (1991, 2005) broke new ground when it challenged the conventional wisdom of an adversarial effect of divided government on governmental effectiveness. Recently, Mayhew (2005) extended his study of the amount of important legislation to the year 2002, and reasserted that divided party control of the...

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Chapter 3 Pivotal Interval Movement

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pp. 35-59

A scholar once declared, the merit of formal modeling is the “rigor and precision of argument that it requires” (Morrow 1994, 6). Although some political scientists equate formal theories to mathematical models, the raison d’être of formal theory should be centered...

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Chapter 4 Empirical Test

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pp. 61-80

The kaleidoscope of legislative activities in the U.S. Congress beguiles scholars, who observe varied patterns in congressional lawmaking and their policy consequences. For decades, the party government school has maintained that party control of the government has an impact on governmental productivity. Scholars contend that the fierce partisan rivalry between the ...

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Chapter 5 Veto Players

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pp. 81-94

Applied models are designed to be empirically applicable to the real world. Constructed upon the assumptions provided by pure theoretical models, applied models offer testable explanations of concrete political phenomena. Chapter 3 presented the pivotal interval movement model, which is predicated upon the assumptions of supermajoritarian procedures and individualistic, ...

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Chapter 6 Pre-Floor Agenda Block

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pp. 95-118

In a recent work by Gary Cox and Mathew McCubbins (2005) the authors propose a formal model of legislative agenda setting predicated upon their well-known Legislative Leviathan thesis (1993). In the cartel agenda model, Cox and McCubbins postulate that the majority party monopolizes the cameral floor agendas because the majority party enjoys a negative agenda power, which ...

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Chapter 7 Conclusion

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pp. 119-128

Political scientists once envisaged an American government founded on active and effective political parties. The Report of the Committee on Political Parties of the American Political Science Association (1950) legendarily proposed an intermingled system of representative democracy and active political parties in ...


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pp. 129-133


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pp. 135-142


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pp. 143-145

E-ISBN-13: 9781438430522
E-ISBN-10: 1438430523
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438430515
Print-ISBN-10: 1438430515

Page Count: 159
Illustrations: 25 tables, 49 figures
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 793202794
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Other Side of Gridlock, The

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Policy sciences.
  • Political planning -- United States.
  • United States. Congress -- Rules and practice.
  • Parliamentary practice -- United States.
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