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The Substance of RepresentationCongress, American Political Development, and Lawmaking$
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John S. Lapinski

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691137810

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691137810.001.0001

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Political Polarization and Issues: A New Perspective

Political Polarization and Issues: A New Perspective

(p.54) Chapter III Political Polarization and Issues: A New Perspective
The Substance of Representation

John S. Lapinski

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses how policy issue substance matters for studying political preferences. Fully exploring how policy issue substance matters for studying political polarization in Congress, the chapter begins by introducing a new large data set that comprises the estimated induced preferences of members of the House of Representatives and U.S. senators by policy issue area over a very long time horizon: 1877 to 2010. It also explores the literature on elite polarization in Congress by policy issue area and studies polarization across a 124-year period (1877 to 2010) by the policy issue areas defined as “tier 1.” The chapter shows that issue content is extremely important for understanding political polarization and that many of the empirical facts about polarization depend on not disaggregating policy by issue areas.

Keywords:   policy issue substance, political preferences, political polarization, Congress, House of Representatives, U.S. senators, elite polarization

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