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Lawmaking in American Legislatures: an empirical investigation

  • Joshua D. Clinton (a1) and Mark D. Richardson (a2)


Given pervasive gridlock at the national level, state legislatures are increasingly the place where notable policy change occurs. Investigating such change is difficult because it is often hard to characterise policy change and use observable data to evaluate theoretical predictions; it is subsequently unclear whether law-making explanations focusing on the US Congress also apply to state legislatures. We use several measures of state policy outcomes to examine lawmaking in state legislatures across nearly two decades, and we argue for using simulation studies to connect theoretical predictions to empirical specifications and help interpret the theoretical relevance of estimated correlations. Doing so reveals that the observed law-making outcomes we study are most consistent with law-making models emphasising the importance of the chamber median and the powers of the governor rather than those that focus on the preferences of the majority party.



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Clinton and Richardson supplementary material 1
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