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Policy and the structure of roll call voting in the US house

Publication ,  Journal Article
De Marchi, S; Dorsey, S; Ensley, MJ
Published in: Journal of Public Policy
June 1, 2021

Competition in the US Congress has been characterised along a single, left-right ideological dimension. We challenge this characterisation by showing that the content of legislation has far more predictive power than alternative measures, most notably legislators' ideological positions derived from scaling roll call votes. Using a machine learning approach, we identify a topic model for final passage votes in the 111th through the 113th House of Representatives and conduct out-of-sample tests to evaluate the predictive power of bill topics relative to other measures. We find that bill topics and congressional committees are important for predicting roll call votes but that other variables, including member ideology, lack predictive power. These findings raise serious doubts about the claim that congressional politics can be boiled down to competition along a single left-right continuum and shed new light on the debate about levels of polarisation in Congress.

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Published In

Journal of Public Policy

DOI

EISSN

1469-7815

ISSN

0143-814X

Publication Date

June 1, 2021

Volume

41

Issue

2

Start / End Page

384 / 408

Related Subject Headings

  • Political Science & Public Administration
  • 1606 Political Science
  • 1605 Policy and Administration
  • 1402 Applied Economics
 

Citation

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De Marchi, S., Dorsey, S., & Ensley, M. J. (2021). Policy and the structure of roll call voting in the US house. Journal of Public Policy, 41(2), 384–408. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0143814X20000069
De Marchi, S., S. Dorsey, and M. J. Ensley. “Policy and the structure of roll call voting in the US house.” Journal of Public Policy 41, no. 2 (June 1, 2021): 384–408. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0143814X20000069.
De Marchi S, Dorsey S, Ensley MJ. Policy and the structure of roll call voting in the US house. Journal of Public Policy. 2021 Jun 1;41(2):384–408.
De Marchi, S., et al. “Policy and the structure of roll call voting in the US house.” Journal of Public Policy, vol. 41, no. 2, June 2021, pp. 384–408. Scopus, doi:10.1017/S0143814X20000069.
De Marchi S, Dorsey S, Ensley MJ. Policy and the structure of roll call voting in the US house. Journal of Public Policy. 2021 Jun 1;41(2):384–408.
Journal cover image

Published In

Journal of Public Policy

DOI

EISSN

1469-7815

ISSN

0143-814X

Publication Date

June 1, 2021

Volume

41

Issue

2

Start / End Page

384 / 408

Related Subject Headings

  • Political Science & Public Administration
  • 1606 Political Science
  • 1605 Policy and Administration
  • 1402 Applied Economics