Explaining Legislative Success in the U.S. Senate: the Role of the Majority and Minority Parties

Published date01 December 1991
DOI10.1177/106591299104400409
Date01 December 1991
Subject MatterArticles
EXPLAINING
LEGISLATIVE
SUCCESS
IN
THE
U.S.
SENATE:
THE
ROLE
OF
THE
MAJORITY
AND
MINORITY
PARTIES
MICHAEL K. MOORE,
University
of
Nebraska,
Lincoln
and
SUE THOMAS,
Georgetown
University
espite
much
research
examing
the
Senate
of
the
1950s
and
either
comparatively
or
separately,
the
Senate
of
the
1980s
(see,
for
example,
Matthews
1960;
White
1957;
Clark
1963;
Polsby
1975;
Ornstein,
Peabody,
and
Rohde
1985;
Schneier
1988;
Sinclair
1986
and
1989;
Smith
1988;
Rohde
1988;
Hibbing
and
Thomas
1990),
many
of
the
specific
norms
that
pervade
individual
member’s
everyday
legislative
work,
such
as
the
passage
of
legislation,
have
yet
to
be
explored.
The
question
we
are
interested
in
may
be
framed
as,
&dquo;What
kind
of
behaviors
currently
contribute
to
individual
success
in
passing
legislation?&dquo;
Thus,
we
attempt
to
discover
what
differentiates
&dquo;those
who
can
move
their
legislation
through
the
legislative
labyrinth
from
those
who
are
continually
stymied
in
their
attempts&dquo;
(Frantzich
1979:
409).
We
attempt
to
provide
an
answer
to
the
question
of
what
type
of
senator
meets
with
success
in
pursuing
the
type
of
work Matthews
(1960:
94)
referred
to
as
&dquo;highly
detailed,
dull,
and
politically
un-
rewarding.&dquo;
CONDITIONS
OF
LEGISLATIVE
SUCCESS
Why
are
some
legislators
more
successful
than
others
at
guiding
their
legislation
out
of
committee
and
perhaps
out
of
the
Senate?
What
are
the
correlates
of
this
kind
of
legislative
success?
Two
possible
sets
of
behaviors
can
be
hypothesized
as
leading
to
the
successful
pursuit
of
legislative
agendas.
First,
in
line
with
the
portrait
painted
by
scholars
and
journalists
of
the
reigning
values of
modern
senators,
it
may
be
that
legislatively
successful
members
are
those
who
are
younger
and
Received:
March
6,
1990
First
Revision
Received:
October
18,
1990
Second
Revision
Received:
November
13,
1990
Accepted
for
Publication:
November
26,
1990
Note:
The
authors
wish
to
thank
John
R.
Hibbing,
Susan
Welch,
and
Marvin
Heath
for
their
assistance
and
support.
Also,
thanks
to
Kidae
Kim
and
Don
Beahm
for
data
gathering
assistance.
The
authors’
names
are
listed
alphabetically.

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