Divided Government, Interest Representation, and Policy Differences: Competing Explanations of Gridlock in the Fifty States

Bowling, Cynthia J.; Ferguson, Margaret R.
February 2001
Journal of Politics;Feb2001, Vol. 63 Issue 1, p182
Academic Journal
Recent research has focused on divided government and interest representation as sources of legislative gridlock. We hypothesize that these two factors will differentially affect the legislative process in eight different policy areas even if they do not affect the overall output of legislation. Using data from the 50 states, we found that when a governor faced a legislature controlled by the opposition party, divided government did make passage of conflictual policy more difficult. When the control of the legislature itself was split, divided government had a positive (or insignificant) effect in less conflictual policy areas. Previous scholars have failed to detect the negative effects of divided government because the effects differed across policy areas. Interest group proliferation also decreased the odds of bill passage in some policy areas but increased the odds in other arenas. It is important to examine interest groups and divided government in tandem to understand their relative impacts upon the policy process in the states.


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