June 15, 2017

Watching the Lawmakers: Craig Volden Can Tell if Members of Congress are Effective

When it comes to rating the lawmaking prowess of their elected representatives, most voters give politicians an average grade and move on.

But not Craig Volden, Professor of Public Policy and Politics and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. He and Vanderbilt University professor Alan E. Wiseman are measuring and scoring lawmakers’ effectiveness. They show the data-driven results for all 535 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the 100 U.S. Senators on their website The Lawmakers.

“Hardly anyone knows anything about the effectiveness of their member of Congress, so we’re stepping into that space,” Volden told the University of Virginia Magazine last year.

“Partisanship matters in Congress. Ideology matters. But we wanted to focus in on the individual members of Congress who actually get things done.”

Using a precise research methodology, Volden and Wiseman calculate a Legislative Effectiveness Score for each member of the House of Representatives. They’ve recently been joined by Geoff Lorenz, a Postdoc Research Assistant joining Batten from the University of Michigan.

Volden will present his latest research in a few day in Milan, Italy, to the European Political Science Association.

He’s spoken recently to scholars at American University and the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C.; Wayne State University in Detroit; and the Center for the Study of American Politics at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. His topic is straightforward: “Do Constituents Know (or Care) about the Lawmaking Effectiveness of Their Representatives?”

Volden and his colleagues are now releasing their latest project: scoring the effectiveness of U.S. Senators over four decades. At the end of the summer, they will issue a comprehensive report card of all House and Senate members from the recently completed 114th Congress.

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Professor of Public Policy and Politics, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Director of the Center for Effective Lawmaking
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Garrett L040