Legislative Branch: 3rd Set of Notes


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Legislative Branch: 3rd Set of Notes

  1. 1. Congressional incumbency <ul><li>What is an incumbent? </li></ul>
  2. 2. Incumbency <ul><li>19th Century </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A large fraction, often a majority of representatives and senators, serve only one term. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It was NOT regarded as a career. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>1950s - </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It had become a career. From 1863 to 1969 the proportion of first “termers” in the House fell from 58% to 8%. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are they out of touch with the people? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>90% of House members are incumbents </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Marginal Districts </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Political districts in which candidates elected to the House win in close elections. Less than 55% of the vote. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Does a marginal district make it easier or harder for the incumbent? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Safe Districts </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Districts in which candidates win by margins of 55% or more. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Would incumbents rather live in a safe district or a marginal district? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What about someone running against an incumbent? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Lets take a look </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>NOW - people are more likely to vote for the person, not the party, but people are more likely to have heard of incumbents. </li></ul><ul><li>Are you guys more likely to vote for the person than the party? How do incumbents play into your decisions? Do they? </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Why do incumbents have such a good chance? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Better Known </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Easier to raise funds </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Can use staff to do constituent service (and franking privilege) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Serve on committees that help constituents </li></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Do members represent their voters? <ul><li>What do you think? Do they care about their constituents? Their party? Their conscience? A mix of these? </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Congress-people can influence legislation in many other ways than voting. </li></ul><ul><li>What are some examples? </li></ul><ul><li>Hearings, mark up bills, offer amendments, media outlets </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>Representational View/Delegate </li></ul><ul><li>Based on the reasonable assumption that members want to get reelected and therefore they vote to please their constituents </li></ul><ul><li>What are the problems with this? </li></ul><ul><li>If there is not a strong or clear opinion then they can risk defeat if they vote against some constituents. </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>Organizational View/Partisan </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Most constituents do not know how their legislator voted, so it is not essential to please them but it is important to please fellow members of Congress </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Principle Cue is Party - VERY PARTISAN </li></ul></ul></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Attitudinal View/ Trustee </li></ul><ul><li>There are so many pressures that they cancel one another out, leaving them virtually free to vote on the basis of their own beliefs </li></ul><ul><li>More consistently conservative or liberal </li></ul><ul><li>Senators are usually less in tune with public than representatives </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>Any Mix of these/ Politico </li></ul><ul><li>Balances the trustee, delegate, and partisan </li></ul><ul><li>What is the one most important indicator of how they will vote? </li></ul><ul><li>PARTY </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><ul><li>Trustee - </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>decided on its merits </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Delegate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Decided based on constituents, agents of who elects them </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Partisan </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Owe allegiance to the party </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Politico </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Attempt to combine the basic elements of the others </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>To Review
  16. 16. <ul><li>What would you rather have representing you in Congress, a delegate, trustee, partisan, or politico. WHY? Defend your answer. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Party Unity and Congressional Caucuses
  18. 18. How do we measure party unity?
  19. 19. Party Polarization <ul><li>Party Polarization: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A vote in which a majority of Democratic legislators oppose a majority of Republican legislators. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What would be an example of a bill subject that could cause this? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Party Unity <ul><li>Senate Numbers (as of right now...to change in January) </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>49-49 but the 2 Independents caucus with Democrats (Dems think it is 51-49) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>House Numbers </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Dem - 233 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Repub-202 </li></ul></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Party Unity <ul><li>Another measure </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cohesion of the parties on votes that elicit a party split </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If deeply divided, then we know their party unity is low </li></ul></ul></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>Bi-Modal Voting </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>When all Democrats vote one way and all Republicans vote the other </li></ul></ul></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>Example of Bimodal Voting </li></ul><ul><li>Clinton Impeachment </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>98% of House Republicans voted for at least 1 impeachment article </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>98% of House Democrats voted against all 4 </li></ul></ul></ul>
  24. 24. <ul><li>So, does political party make a difference? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Enough of a difference that party affiliation is the most important thing to know about a member of Congress </li></ul></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Congressional Caucuses <ul><li>Do not get this confused with electoral caucuses. These relate to members IN congress. </li></ul><ul><li>They are an association of congressional members (senators and representatives) created to advance a political ideology or regional, ethnic, or economic interest. </li></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>So, its sort of like a club for like-minded congressmen and women </li></ul><ul><li>Coalitions </li></ul><ul><li>Study groups </li></ul><ul><li>Task forces </li></ul><ul><li>Working Groups </li></ul>
  27. 27. <ul><li>Intra-party caucuses </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>between members of the same party </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ex. House Democratic Caucus, House Republican Caucus </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  28. 28. <ul><li>Personal Interest Caucuses </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Art </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Congressional Family </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Human Rights </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Population and Development </li></ul></ul></ul>
  29. 29. <ul><li>Constituency Concerns, National </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Black Caucus </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Women’s issues </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Vietnam Veterans </li></ul></ul></ul>
  30. 30. <ul><li>Constituency Concerns, Regional </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sunbelt </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Western </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>TVA </li></ul></ul></ul>
  31. 31. <ul><li>Constituency Concerns, by State </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>MA caucus </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>VA caucus </li></ul></ul></ul>
  32. 32. <ul><li>Constituency Concerns, Industry </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Steel </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Textile </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Boating </li></ul></ul></ul>
  33. 33. <ul><li>Why join a caucus? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>To pursue common legislative goals </li></ul></ul></ul>
  34. 34. Review for Quiz <ul><li>next class: 7 short answers </li></ul><ul><li>Describe the three reasons we have a bicameral legislature. </li></ul>
  35. 35. <ul><li>What are three reasons why incumbent rates are so high in the House? </li></ul><ul><li>Define the theory of descriptive representation. </li></ul>
  36. 36. <ul><li>Discussed what happened in the court case Shaw v Reno </li></ul><ul><li>What is a filibuster and how can it be stopped </li></ul>
  37. 37. <ul><li>Describe the 4 ways members of Congress can vote/represent their voters? </li></ul><ul><li>Why would a congressman or woman want to join a caucus? </li></ul>