Multi-dimensional conflict and legistative gridlock : testing new theories and new measures : 1921-2004


Legislative productivity has been a much debated topic by congressional researchers. The legislative branch of the federal government is considered the people's branch because it is the only branch that is freely elected making it the most easily accountable to the general public. In addition, because the Founders of the United States talk about it first and because they talk about it the most, it is quite reasonable to assume that they meant for the legislature to be the supreme branch of government. It is therefore important to understand what factors can account for the productivity of Congress, over time. In an effort to understand what makes Congress most relevant and effective a measure of significant legislation had to be created. This thesis is unique because it develops a new measure of topical legislative output. The Congressional Digest, a journal that focuses on one salient issue facing the nation each month, is used to determine a salient and relevant legislative agenda. Ultimately, this thesis is testing whether legislation that is discussed by the Congressional Digest is addressed by legislation. More specifically, legislative productivity for this research is defined as a law being passed after the Congressional Digest raises awareness on the issue, and before the Congress in question, adjourns sine die. The Congressional Digest has been published continuously since 1921 which defines the starting point of the research. In order to allow sufficient time to track the success of the legislative initiatives discussed in the journal, which is still in print, the investigation will stop with the last issue in 2004. The new dependent variable was tested using existing variables found in the academic literature on legislative gridlock. Variables such the percentage of moderates in Congress and presidential honeymoons perform as expected; both are associated with less gridlock. Interestingly, the variable testing the change of majority power in Congress produced an effect, opposite of what was expected. New majorities are found to be associated with less topical legislative output. Arguably, this occurs because this new measure of gridlock taps a legislative agenda that represents particularly complicated issues, which new majorities are not equipped to handle effectively. Overall, the new dependent variable holds up to initial scrutiny.


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Thesis Completion





Schraufnagel, Scot


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Sciences

Degree Program

Political Science


Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences;Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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