Professor David Canon, TA Saemyi Park
Introduction to course, continued
4. Number phobia? Not a huge issue, but if you really hate statistics and numbers, this may not be the class for you.
5. lecture outlines on the internet: http://users.polisci.wisc.edu/dcanon/
6. Current events discussion at the beginning of most classes.
7. NY Times subscriptions (Jim Freeman from the NY Times will be here a bit later)
Purpose of the Course
Approaches to Studying Congress
Positive – don’t make judgments about how things should work. Explain, predict -- rational choice most common in study of Congress.
Distributive: pork barrel politics, gains from trade.
Informational: deferral to expertise.
Partisan: majority party is key
Normative – how things should work.
Representation: descriptive, geographic
Reform: ethics reform.
Methods for Studying Congress
Quantitative -- statistical analysis to uncover patterns, come up with explanations. Statistical control.
Qualitative – “soak and poke” Interviews with members. Richard Fenno.
Formal – spatial model
Historical – can be quantitative or qualitative.
Characteristics of Congress
1. Basics from 104
Bicameral, geographic, single-member districts. Debate on list-serve about the size of the House. Hasn’t been increased since the turn of the 20th century.
What is the significance of these features?
2. Assessing Congress, Mark Twain, to the Onion. Popularity of Congress: institution versus own member. Collection of individuals versus the institution itself.
3. Senate – individualism and partisanship.
clubby, inward-looking, constraining norms, southern Dems.
60-70s : policy entrepreneurship
Late 80s-90s: more individualism and partisanship. More diverse in terms of race and gender.
Recent period: deference to the president. Dems. Resisting Bush, but not as much as some would like.
Causes of change: membership turnover, 1958, 1964, 1974, 1980, 1994, 2006.
Permissive rules, open debate. Use of rules: filibuster, holds, non-germane amendments. Unanimous Consent Agreements. More gridlock: higher % of failed measures. Role of obstruction. Less effective Senate? No simple answer. What do you think?
5. House – The evolution of partisan control. Conservative Coalition. Define? Powerful in the 1940s-early 60s. Watergate class of 1974. Reform-minded freshmen. Gingrich revolution -- 1994. Democrats retook control in 2006.
Patterns of junior members and careerists. Junior members often in a hurry to have an impact.
Impact of struggle for partisan control on legislative output. Makes the majority party less willing to take risks and the minority party has an incentive to obstruct. Definitely saw this in 2002. Put off action on the budget. Again in 2006 and this year with immigration reform, energy policy, and entitlement reform. More of a sense of urgency now, but midterm elections put everything on hold.
House/Senate differences: Senate the saucer that cools the hot tea of the House
Framers’ intent: close to the people, popular election, two year term, smaller districts
Age – 25
Majoritarian, Rules Committee, much more structured than Senate, germaneness, previous question.
Framers’ intent: indirect election, six year term, represent states and national interests. Role in foreign policy, treaties, nominations.
Supermajorities, filibuster, non-germane, UCAs, no previous question.
Electoral context: big gains for Dems in 2008. First unified control of government for them since 1993. Started with overwhelming public support for Obama, but that fell pretty quickly.
Democrats. Had their largest Democratic majorities since 1993, but expanding the number of Dems means bringing in more moderates. Role of the Blue Dogs.
Rs have a strategy of opposing the Dem’s domestic agenda. Expect big gains in midterms.
2008 electoral college map
2008 electoral college map, corrected for relative population