Congressional Vote Options
Among political practitioners, there is conventional wisdom about the outcomes of critical and salient legislative votes. 'This vote,' we hear, ' will either win by a little or lose by a lot.' Real-world examples suggest coalition leaders purchase 'hip-pocket' votes and "if you need me" pledges, which are converted to favorable votes when they will yield a victory. When the outcome is uncertain, such a process -- securing commitments in advance and calling them in if necessary -- is advantageous relative to traditional vote buying. Excess votes are not bought, nor are votes purchased for a losing effort. In effect, the leader secures options on votes. Given uncertainty, buying vote options yields two outcomes in conceivably winnable situations, one a narrow victory, the other a substantial loss. Such a distribution of outcomes is not explicable in a traditional vote-buying framework. We look for evidence of this pattern -- the tracings of 'if you need me pledges' -- by examining all Congressional Quarterly key votes from 1975 through 1998. On these critical and salient votes, narrow victories are much more frequent than narrow losses. Furthermore, when leaders lose key votes, as predicted, they lose by bigger margins than when they win. Finally, we discuss leadership strategies for keeping 'narrow wins' from unraveling into 'big losses.'
|Date of creation:||Sep 1999|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as King, David C. and Richard J. Zeckhauser. "Congressional Vote Options." Legislative Studies Quarterly 28, 3 (August 2003): 387-411.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- McKelvey, Richard D., 1976. "Intransitivities in multidimensional voting models and some implications for agenda control," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 472-482, June.
- Lascher, Edward L, Jr & Kelman, Steven & Kane, Thomas J, 1993. "Policy Views, Constituency Pressure, and Congressional Action on Flag Burning," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 76(1-2), pages 79-102, June.
- James M. Snyder, 1991. "On Buying Legislatures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(2), pages 93-109, 07.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7342. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.