Spatial Models of Legislative Effectiveness December 2014 By Craig VoldenMatthew P. HittAlan E. Wiseman Spatial Models of Legislative Effectiveness 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. We relax these assumptions by modeling proposal “quality” and the effort needed to make better proposals. The resulting Legislative Effectiveness Model (LEM) offers three main benefits. First, it can better account for policy changes based on the effectiveness or popularity of the status quo, changing our understanding of how to overcome gridlock in polarized legislatures. Second, it generalizes canonical models of legislative politics, such as median voter, setter, negative agenda setting, and pivotal politics models, all of which emerge as special cases within the LEM. Third, the LEM offers significant new empirical predictions, some of which we initially test (and find support for) within the U.S. Congress. FormalLEP141218.pdf 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 Matthew P. Hitt Louisiana State University Alan E. Wiseman Vanderbilt University Related Content Craig Volden Party Calls and Reelection in the US Senate Research 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. 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. Why Do Bad Policies So Often Spread But Good Ones Don’t? News In their new book "Why bad policies spread (and good one’s don’t)," Batten's Craig Volden and Charles R. Shipan draw from a wide range of policy domains to examine whether states learn from another to improve the spread of good or effective policies, which policies spread for which reasons and which conditions lead to good or bad policies to spread, among other core questions. Faculty Spotlight: Improving the Way We Make Laws, with Science News Batten Professor Craig Volden no longer designs spacecraft—instead, he’s engineering a metric to combat political gridlock.