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Why Not Parties?Party Effects in the United States Senate$
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Nathan W. Monroe, Jason M. Roberts, and David W. Rohde

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226534879

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226534947.001.0001

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Introduction: Assessing the Impact of Parties in the U.S. Senate

Introduction: Assessing the Impact of Parties in the U.S. Senate

(p.1) 1 Introduction: Assessing the Impact of Parties in the U.S. Senate
Why Not Parties?

Nathan W. Monroe

Jason M. Roberts

David W. Rohde

University of Chicago Press

According to the conventional view of legislative organization and decision making in the U.S. Senate, party effects in the Senate is something of an oxymoron. While research on the House has been both abundant and party-focused in recent years, the more sparse literature on the Senate still largely treats parties as secondary considerations in a chamber dominated by individual senators leveraging a decentralized procedural environment. This chapter reconsiders this view. Motivated by the disparate theoretical explanations of the House and Senate, the naked-eye partisanship of the contemporary Senate, and the need for more research on the Senate in general, it asks: to what degree (if any) should we expect party effects in the U.S. Senate, and what is the evidence to support the expectations? The chapter first discusses briefly the recent political science literature on party effects in Congress generally and in the House in particular, to set the context for the consideration of the Senate. Next it considers some of the challenges that parties face in trying to work their will in the Senate, and the challenges that scholars face in studying the Senate more generally. It then offers some observations about the partisan climate in the Senate of the past several years, and concludes with a discussion of the limited work on parties in the Senate. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.

Keywords:   U.S. Senate, party effects, Congress, political parties, partisanship

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