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Lecture

GVPT 170 Lecture Notes - Pork Barrel, Divided Government, Cloture


Department
Government and Politics
Course Code
GVPT 170
Professor
Patrick Wohlfarth

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Institutions
Articles I, II, and III define the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches (respectively)
Formal powers of Congress are much stronger and more explicit
Judicial weakest
Executive is in between
History marked by the ebb and flow of power between branches
Contemporary Congress: Overview
1. Occupies the center stage in domestic policymaking
2. Influence of electoral politics
3. The majority party & its leaders direct and dominate the action
Although meaningful differences between House & Senate
“leader controls agenda - talk on Wed
4. Internal rules & organizational structures have a deliberate and critical effect on policymaking
Solving collective action problems
5. It is always easier to stop things from happening than to make things happen
primarily designed to block things
which is why we don't see often a large bill getting pass, always lots of veto in
blessing part - things shouldn't pass don’t pass / cursing part - things should pass don’t pass
people tends to dislike congress but like individuals
individuals might work hard to maintain self image
congress as a institution is slow
Representation
Descriptive vs. Substantive
[6] Congress
Monday, October 14, 2013
9:59 AM

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descriptive: e.g. white males disproportionally represented in the congress
substantive: how the political view of congress matches public view
Trustee vs. Delegate
what motivates congress?
members of congress: delegate - do what [a least a majority] their constituents want;
trustee - do what individual constituents want
Congressional Districts
House: 435
2-year terms
Representation = population-based
each representing roughly same number of people - Average district population
roughly 711,000 (2010 Census data)
Senate: 100
6-year terms (staggered)
Representation = state-wide
representing - California: 37.3 million people; Wyoming: 568,000 people (2010 Census
data)
These differences have consequences
term lengths - have influence on their motivations
size of their districts
...
U.S. House Districts
need to make sure "each represents roughly same number" is always the case: population growth &
migration across country etc.
Reapportionment: Determining state representation based on population
U.S. Census every 10 years
"MD no change: MD's proportion of the population stay same but TX grow a large bit"
- determining how many seats each state gets
Redistricting - district need to draw / revised after seat allocate so that each house member
represents roughly the same number of people
one of the reasons: might be migration within a state
State-controlled
states retain this power, each state does it in a different way
A Few Primary Qualifications:
Equally Populated Wesberry v. Sanders (1964)
Continuous Geographic Regions
has to be one singular region, connected
Compactness & Community Interests
compacted region than a thin line - hard to decide, subjective exercise!
Gerrymandering - draw district for some political purpose
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- courts tends to stay out of this
- these things generally get over turned in court except racial gerrymander!
Partisan
a district max chances democrats gonna win in house
Incumbents
Racial (…unconstitutional)
Cracking vs. Packing - how to do gerrymander
- computer software make engaging in gerrymander easier
e.g. you are democrat: crack, split up, diffusing republican so no majority
likely republican voters in the district
e.g. pack all the republicans into one or two single district
- that thin line run along highway (I-85?) obviously nobody lives along the
highway so that is how you make the district continuous
The Electoral System
Members of Congress and president are elected separately.
Single-member, winner-take-all districts (plurality winner - whoever receives most votes)
Promotes two-party system
make it difficult for minority party to win
helps to reaffirm the two-party system
Makes drawing district boundaries critical
gerrymandering
district determines - people gets to decide - geographic region - subset of state
Promotes focus on local interests
people in that district elected you in - so you have responsible to them you care
about their interest.
Individually responsive but collectively irresponsible…?
meaning: for each seat in congress, there is separate race for each seat. serious individual
election.
435 separate elections.
Congressional Elections
Candidate-centered
Contrasts party-centered elections of 19th & early 20th centuries
local party bosses control the electoral process
Costly campaigns
House = 6-7 figures
Senate = 7-8 figures
Drop-off & Roll-off Effects
drop-off effect: smaller number of people go to vote during "midterm elections" no
president on the ballot
roll-off effect: decent number of people just vote for president, no one else - lack of
knowledge etc
Split-ticket voting
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