This study of the influence minority parties wield is both a major
work of political science scholarship and a timely examination of
an issue with real consequences for the functioning of democratic
legislatures and the creation of legislation. Challenging
conventional assumptions that the majority party dominates the
legislature, Jennifer Hayes Clark investigates precisely the ways
in which-and under what conditions-members of the minority party
successfully pursue their interests. For this study, Clark collects
fine-grained data from both the U.S. Congress and state
legislatures to get a close look at three key points in the
legislative process: committee assignments, bill cosponsorship, and
roll-call votes. She finds that minority party members are not
systematically excluded throughout the policymaking process.
Indeed, their capacity to shape legislative decision-making is
enhanced when party polarization is low, when institutional
prerogatives are broadly dispersed rather than centralized, and
when staff resources are limited. Under these conditions,
bipartisanship bill cosponsorship and voting coalitions are also
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