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Partisan Polarization

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Experts have used two theories to explain patterns in significant legislation in the post-war period (Schultz, 2006). These theories are the pivot theory and the partisan theory. The partisan polarization plays a crucial role in both of these perspectives. In partisan perspectives, inter-branch bargaining with partisan actors produces new policies. Therefore, when different parties control the different branches, there would be fewer emergencies of significant policy enactments. However, such a forecast relies on the degree of policy disagreement across parties. Clearly, the late 1990s’ inter-branch confrontations were quite different the executive-legislative relations during the Eisenhower years.

Thus, it is wise to condition the predictions about the consequences of divided governments on the level of partisan polarization. The rising polarization has taken place in coincident with the rise in frequency of divided government (Stoker & Jennings, 2006). Additionally, there is a proposed pivot model, which suggests that partisan polarization plays a key role in policy-making (Nivola & Brady, 2006). Based on the support of pivotal actors, these models identify crucial conditions for change in policy. Nivola and Brady argue that closure of the Senate and the presidential veto are the two constraints that bind on policy-making in the US (2006).

Therefore, new policies need a House majority, sixty senators to effect cloture and the support of the president or two-thirds votes in each chamber to overrule a presidential veto. These models state that the gridlock interval is that policy space region between the senator pivotal on cloture and a presidential veto. Currently, the senator pivotal on a presidential veto is the 33rd or 67th most conservative. It depends on the president is liberal or conservative.

The senator pivotal on cloture is 40th or 60th, depending on the position of the president. A policy that has a status quo lying in this interval will remain unchanged since any move will get a veto from at least one of the two pivotal actors.

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