How pork-barrel spending shapes the ideological composition of Congress

July 12, 2018
In classrooms across the country, economics professors often use the phrase “guns and butter” as an analogy for the competing priorities nations face when deciding how to allocate resources. Read More

Rethinking redistricting and when it matters

June 28, 2018
Image source: US Census By Charles R. Hunt In a previous LegBranch post, I  assessed some competing theories of how consequential the redistricting process has been to congressional elections… Read More

Polarization is an output of our process, not the cause of all our woes

June 26, 2018
Our recent piece, “Congress is Broken. But don’t blame polarization,” provoked a number of useful discussions about how political scientists should interpret the results of empirical models like DW-NOMINATE. Read More

How do electoral incentives affect legislator behavior?

June 19, 2018
Image source By Alexander Fouirnaies and Andrew B. Hall  The Democratic Goal: Electoral Accountability Those in power don’t always do what we want them to do; this is the central… Read More

Video: Weak parties and strong partisanship

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May 23, 2018
At our April 2018 Legislative Branch Capacity Working Group meeting, Marquette professor and contributor Julia Azari discussed her take on how and why we can have… Read More

The House and Senate go rogue?

May 22, 2018
Image source: The Hill By Joshua C. Huder Today’s Congress is often rightfully perceived as lacking democracy and controlled by a select few. Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are cast… Read More

Social media’s polarizing effects

April 24, 2018
Image source: NYMAG By Kevin Wagner Mark Zuckerberg’s recent testimony in front of Congress illustrates two very important points about social media. Every member of Congress knows they have… Read More

Member joining patterns across party factions in the 115th Congress

April 18, 2018
Image source: Politico By Danielle Thomsen Two main teams compete for partisan control in the contemporary Congress, but even in the current context of high partisan polarization, differences between members… Read More

Leadership super PACs and the further centralization of power

March 8, 2018
Image source: PBS By Marian Currinder The direct primary was one of the Progressive Era’s most consequential reforms. Diminishing the role of parties in the nominating process meant that campaigns… Read More

The decline of party capacity in the House

February 21, 2018
Image source: Politico By Scott Meinke In the last two decades, the House of Representatives has lost a great deal of institutional capacity.  Sources of expertise and… Read More