Party Reputations and Policy Priorities: How Issue Ownership Shapes Executive and Legislative Agendas
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 30 March 2017
Election-oriented elites are expected to emphasize issues on which their party possesses ‘issue ownership’ during campaigns. This article extends those theories to the content of executive and legislative agendas. Arguing that executives have incentives to pursue their party’s owned issues in the legislature, it theorizes three conditions under which these incentives are constrained: when governments are responsive to issues prioritized by the public, when a party has a stronger electoral mandate and under divided government. The theory is tested using time-series analyses of policy agendas of US congressional statutes and State of the Union addresses (1947–2012) and UK acts of Parliament and the Queen’s Speech (1950–2010). The results offer support for the theory, and are particularly strong for the US State of the Union address, providing insights into institutional differences. The implications provide reassurance concerning the conditions under which governments focus attention only on their partisan issue priorities.
- © Cambridge University Press 2017
School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester (email: firstname.lastname@example.org); Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Southampton (email: email@example.com). The data on US policy agendas were originally collected by Frank R. Baumgartner and Bryan D. Jones, with the support of National Science Foundation grant numbers SBR 9320922 and 0111611, distributed through the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin. The data on UK policy agendas were collected by Peter John, Will Jennings and Shaun Bevan with the support of ESRC research award RES-062-23-0872. Data on issue competence were collected by Jane Green and Will Jennings with the support of ESRC research award RES-000-22-4616. We thank Shaun Bevan for advice on model specification and Frank Baumgartner for valuable comments on an earlier version of this article. Thanks also to Rob Johns and the anonymous journal reviewers. Data replication sets are available at http://dataverse.harvard.edu/dataverse/BJPolS and online appendices are available at http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1017/S0007123416000636