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Roll-Call Vote Selection: Implications for the Study of Legislative Politics

  • CAITLIN AINSLEY (a1), CLIFFORD J. CARRUBBA (a2), BRIAN F. CRISP (a3), BETUL DEMIRKAYA (a4), MATTHEW J. GABEL (a3) and DINO HADZIC (a5)...

Abstract

Roll-call votes provide scholars with the opportunity to measure many quantities of interest. However, the usefulness of the roll-call sample depends on the population it is intended to represent. After laying out why understanding the sample properties of the roll-call record is important, we catalogue voting procedures for 145 legislative chambers, finding that roll calls are typically discretionary. We then consider two arguments for discounting the potential problem: (a) roll calls are ubiquitous, especially where the threshold for invoking them is low or (b) the strategic incentives behind requests are sufficiently benign so as to generate representative samples. We address the first defense with novel empirical evidence regarding roll-call prevalence and the second with an original formal model of the position-taking argument for roll-call vote requests. Both our empirical and theoretical results confirm that inattention to vote method selection should broadly be considered an issue for the study of legislative behavior.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Caitlin Ainsley, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Washington, cainsley@uw.edu
Clifford J. Carrubba, Professor, Departments of Political Science and Quantitative Theory and Methods, Emory University, ccarrub@emory.edu
Brian F. Crisp, Professor, Department of Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis, crisp@wustl.edu
Betul Demirkaya, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Kentucky, betul.demirkaya@wustl.edu
Matthew J. Gabel, Professor, Department of Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis, mgabel@wustl.edu
Dino Hadzic, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Trinity College Dublin, dhadzic@tcd.ie

Footnotes

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This research was supported by National Science Foundation Grant # SES-1066340, awarded to Carrubba, Crisp, and Gabel and funding from the Weidenbaum Center at Washington University in St. Louis. The authors thank Bill Bernhard, Randall Calvert, and four anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this paper. Replication files are available at the American Political Science Review Dataverse: https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/XI7ENB.

Footnotes

References

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Roll-Call Vote Selection: Implications for the Study of Legislative Politics

  • CAITLIN AINSLEY (a1), CLIFFORD J. CARRUBBA (a2), BRIAN F. CRISP (a3), BETUL DEMIRKAYA (a4), MATTHEW J. GABEL (a3) and DINO HADZIC (a5)...

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