Party Calls and Reelection in the US Senate Jun 20, 2018 By Ethan HershbergerWilliam MinozziCraig Volden Party Calls and Reelection in the US Senate Minozzi and Volden advance the idea that a substantial portion of partisan voting activity in Congress is a simple call to unity that is especially easily embraced by ideological extremists. If correct, Minozzi and Volden’s findings should extend from the House to the Senate, despite differences in institutional structures and in tools at the disposal of party leaders across the two chambers. We adapt the theory and measurement of party calls to the Senate. In so doing, we find that both the House and the Senate have relied heavily (and increasingly) on party calls over the past four decades. In the Senate in particular, the lens of party calls opens new opportunities for scholars to explore partisan legislative behavior. We take advantage of one such opportunity to show how electoral concerns limit senators’ responsiveness to party calls, depriving party leaders of support for their agenda items. Journal of Politics UVA partners Center for Effective Lawmaking Ethan Hershberger William Minozzi Craig Volden Craig Volden is a professor of public policy and politics, with appointments in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics. He studies legislative politics and the interaction among political institutions, including within American federalism. Read full bio Related Content Craig Volden Spatial Models of Legislative Effectiveness Research Spatial models of policymaking have evolved from the median voter theorem through the inclusion of institutional considerations such as political parties, committees, and various voting and amendment rules. Such models, however, implicitly assume that no policy is more effective than another at solving public policy problems and that all proposers are equally capable of advancing proposals. Legislative Effectiveness in the United States Senate Research Just like members of the House, US senators vary in how effective they are at lawmaking. We create Legislative Effectiveness Scores for each senator in each of the 93rd–113th Congresses (1973–2015). We use these scores to explore common claims about institutional differences in lawmaking between the House and the Senate. Members of Congress are Specializing Less Often. Volden and Wiseman Say That Makes Them Less Effective. News Batten’s Craig Volden and Vanderbilt’s Alan Wiseman, co-directors of the Center for Effective Lawmaking, find that members of Congress are becoming less specialized and in turn, less effective. How do we encourage more expertise and reverse the trend? Scoring Effectiveness in Congress News What makes someone an effective lawmaker? Surprisingly, until Batten’s Craig Volden and Vanderbilt’s Alan Wiseman began discussing that question a little over a decade ago, we didn’t have a clear answer.