A Threshold-Based Analysis of Bipartisanship in Crime and Law Legislation in the United States Senate (1989-2018)




Burniston, Mary Margaret

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As affective polarization rises in the United States, much scholarly work is devoted to gridlock and hyper-partisanship. In this thesis, I examine whether the issue of crime and law legislation has been impacted by rising polarization, or if it has been able to maintain a degree of bipartisanship. With the use of data on 432 crime and law bills considered from 1989 to 2018, I analyze the concept of issue ownership over crime and law legislation, create 18 different subcategories within the crime and law category, and conduct four network analyses which examine the role of thresholds in facilitating bipartisan collaboration. In doing so, I create several new variables, including Cosponsorship Partisan Difference (CPD) and Sponsorship Partisan Difference (SPD) in order to conceptualize degrees of hyper-partisanship and bipartisanship. I make several key findings, including that CPD is a critical factor which sets apart the most successful sessions and bills, and that individual senators skilled in bipartisan collaboration serve as crucial actors in the most successful session networks.



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