Year of Publication

2006

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Richard Waterman

Abstract

Divided government has been studied at length in the political science literature, much of which has focused on the effect of this phenomenon on various legislative outcomes. Despite this high level of attention, the literature has employed a narrow definition of divided government that equates the phenomenon with divided party control. This dissertation demonstrates that divided government is comprised of several distinct components, of which party control is only part. To determine whether government is truly divided, one must include measures of both party (party control and the strength of party majorities) and ideology (in terms of the ideological distance between the president and Congress). When previous studies of divided government are re-examined using these more appropriate measures of the components of divided government, it is clear that both party and ideology drive legislative outcomes. This dissertation demonstrates that divided government is a much more complex political phenomenon. Furthermore, this research suggests that the presidential-congressional relationship may be less adverse during periods of divided party control than periods of unified party control. This underscores the need to include measures that capture the components of divided government in future studies on related topics.

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