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Sources of Party Conflict

Sources of Party Conflict

Ideological Disagreement and Teamsmanship

Chapter:
(p.47) Chapter Three Sources of Party Conflict
Source:
Beyond Ideology
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226470771.003.0003

This chapter examines the extent to which party conflict in the U.S. Congress can be attributed to the dynamics of competitive team play rather than to ideological disagreement. Drawing on conventional understandings of liberalism and conservatism in contemporary American politics, the chapter analyzes all roll-call votes taken from 1981 through 2004 in Congress to determine how much partisanship in congressional voting behavior can be attributed to conflict over various ideological issues. It shows that disagreement on conventional left-right issues characterizes only a little more than half of all the party votes observed in congressional voting. More than a third of the party votes occurred on issues that apparently did not involve any of the conventional distinctions between liberals and conservatives. Moreover, the pronounced increase in party conflict between 1981 and 2004 can be traced to both ideological polarization and improved party teamwork.

Keywords:   party conflict, Congress, Senate, liberals, conservatives, roll-call votes, liberalism, conservatism, congressional voting, partisanship

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