Strategic Party Government: Why Winning Trumps Ideology

Hardcover | January 13, 2017

byGregory Koger, Matthew J. Lebo

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Why is Congress mired in partisan polarization? The conventional answer is that members of Congress and their constituencies fundamentally disagree with one other along ideological lines. But Gregory Koger and Matthew J. Lebo uncover a more compelling reason that today’s political leaders devote so much time to conveying their party’s positions, even at the expense of basic government functions: Both parties want to win elections.
In Strategic Party Government, Koger and Lebo argue that Congress is now primarily a forum for partisan competition. In order to avoid losing, legislators unite behind strong party leaders, even when they do not fully agree with the policies their party is advocating. They do so in the belief that party leaders and voters will reward them for winning—or at least trying to win—these legislative contests. And as the parties present increasingly united fronts, partisan competition intensifies and pressure continues to mount for a strong party-building strategy—despite considerable disagreement within the parties.

By bringing this powerful but underappreciated force in American politics to the forefront, Koger and Lebo provide a new interpretation of the problems facing Congress that is certain to reset the agenda for legislative studies.
 

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From the Publisher

Why is Congress mired in partisan polarization? The conventional answer is that members of Congress and their constituencies fundamentally disagree with one other along ideological lines. But Gregory Koger and Matthew J. Lebo uncover a more compelling reason that today’s political leaders devote so much time to conveying their party’s ...

Gregory Koger is associate professor of political science at the University of Miami. He is the author of Filibustering: A Political History of Obstruction in the House and Senate, also published by the University of Chicago Press. Matthew J. Lebo is professor of political science at Stony Brook University, where he also directs the Ce...

other books by Gregory Koger

Format:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:January 13, 2017Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022642457X

ISBN - 13:9780226424576

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Table of Contents

Preface
Chapter 1. Worst. Congress. Ever. Why?
Chapter 2. A Theory of Strategic Parties
Chapter 3. Microlevel Foundations: Do Citizens Dislike Partisanship or Extremism? (Coauthored with Everett Young)
Chapter 4. The Electoral Costs of Party Loyalty in Congress (Coauthored with Jamie Carson and Ellen Key)
Chapter 5. The Effects of Legislative Behavior on Aggregate Election Outcomes
Chapter 6. The Dynamics of Partisan Power
Chapter 7. Party Competition in Legislative Voting
Chapter 8. Conclusion
Notes
References
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Koger and Lebo’s emphasis on strategic parties synthesizes, indeed subsumes, existing approaches to legislative parties—conditional party government theory, cartel theory, and theories of vote buying. Their focus on existential motivations for legislative parties—the need  to win elections, district by district, and the aspiration to command legislative majorities—provides an essential connection between legislative politics and the electoral arena.”