Cartelization in U.S. State Legislatures
Stevenson, Randolph T.
Doctor of Philosophy
Cartel Theory research exclusively focuses on national legislatures, which has led to empirical uniformity among the studies. By only examining national legislatures, researchers have only observed chambers where there is a strong connection between party reputation and legislator reelection. This project examines legislatures where the connections between party reputation and legislator reelection vary widely. National legislatures generally have legislative rules enabling agenda control and therefore tend to have low majority roll rates. The variation in majority roll rates this project finds among U.S. state legislatures is due to the variance in legislative rules among these chambers. While most other Cartel Theory research implicitly assumes a connection between legislative rules and majority roll rates, this project verifies it empirically. This project further seeks to determine what causes legislative cartelization. In order to determine causal factors, the project examines cases where there is variation in legislative cartelization and the connection between party reputation and legislator reelection. U.S. state legislatures display substantial variation in both of these variables and are, therefore, ideal candidates for observation. With these motivations in mind, this project’s primary two research questions test unverified assumptions made in the Cartel Theory literature: 1. How strong is the relationship between legislative cartelization and the connection between party reputation and legislator reelection probability? 2. Are low majority roll rates indicative of chambers having institutionalized rules enabling agenda control? The answer to the first is that, among U.S. state legislatures, there is not a consistently strong relationship between majority roll rates and the connection between party reputation and legislator reelection, though there is a strong relationship between agenda control-enabling legislative rules and this connection. These two findings suggest that we need alternative measures of cartelization. More broadly, the findings suggest that Cartel Theory may not be as universally applicable as it once seemed. The answer to the second question is that there is a strong connection between low majority roll rates and legislative rules enabling agenda control but that this relationship is variable and alternative measures of cartelization are necessary for future Cartel Theory research.