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 (539.09 KB) Craig Volden Craig Volden is a professor of public policy and politics at the University of Virginia, with appointments in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and the Department of Politics. He studies the politics of public policy, with a focus on what policy choices arise within legislative institutions and within American federalism. He is founder and co-director of the Center for Effective Lawmaking. Read full bio Matthew P. Hitt Louisiana State University Alan E. Wiseman Vanderbilt University Related Content Craig Volden Legislative Effectiveness, Progressive Ambition, and Electoral Success Research The Primary Path for Turning Legislative Effectiveness into Electoral Success Research Effective lawmakers are the workhorses of the US Congress, yet we know little about the electoral payoffs of their efforts. Are effective lawmakers better at warding off challengers in the next election? Do they win at a greater rate? Improving Expertise of Congressional Staff News In an op-ed published in The Messenger, Craig Volden and Alan E. Wiseman of the Center for Effective Lawmaking write that without proper career training for congressional staffers, expertise gaps on Capitol Hill will continue to be problematic. Bipartisanship the “secret sauce” for effective lawmaking, despite rising polarization in Congress News Despite perceptions that Congress is dominated by partisan interests, a new study from the Center for Effective Lawmaking -- co-directed by Batten professor Craig Volden -- finds that legislators who draw in cosponsors from both sides of the aisle are more effective.