Briefly answer the following questions:
1. What are some of the crucial differences between the U.S. House and Senate in terms of
elections, constituencies, and time horizons? How do these differences result in different
behavioral patterns in each chamber?
2. What are DW-NOMINATE scores and why are they superior to other similar measures? How are
they constructed, what are the possible scores a member can receive, and what is one major
criticism of these scores?
3. What is polarization, and how it is distinct from oft-linked concepts such as partisanship,
gridlock, and incivility? What do high and low levels of polarization look like in terms of DWNOMINATE scores and how has polarization varied over the past fifty years?
4. What is the legal principle of “one person, one vote” and why does it help shape differences
between the House and Senate? What is malapportionment and what form does it take in the
Senate? What are some objections to this institutional feature and why do some legal scholars
contend this problem is unfixable?
5. What are David Mayhew and Richard Fenno’s perspectives about the primary goals of
legislators? Why do these goals differ depending on a member’s district, the stage of a
member’s career, and the chamber of Congress one is a member of?
6. What are the trustee and delegate perspectives on representation, and why is this distinction
often a moot point in everyday congressional decision-making? What do important political
science findings, including Miller and Stokes’ model and Hertel-Fernandez’s findings, suggest
about the challenges of attempting to act as delegates?
7. What is congruence and why do some scholars argue that this is not the only standard by which
to judge whether legislators are responsive to constituents? What are some other forms of
responsiveness? What is the asymmetry of representation and why does it cast some doubt on
the usefulness of congruence as a normative standard?
8. What are the three requirements for policy influence? How do elections and the composition of
Congress determine whether each one of these requirements is likely to exist in a given district?
9. What is descriptive representation and what are some of the ways it benefits citizens? What are
the legal controversies surrounding efforts to increase descriptive representation with respect
to race, and why are these controversies absent with respect to gender?
10. What is substantive representation, and in particular, what are the correlational and
particularistic visions of it? Why do some scholars argue there is a tradeoff between descriptive
and substantive representation, especially with respect to race and ethnicity? What does critical
mass theory assert about substantive representation with respect to gender?
11. What are the three forms of behavior in David Mayhew’s electoral connection theory? How do
forms of legislative entrepreneurship such as bill authorship and cosponsorship allow legislators
to appeal to the electorate? Why does Sulkin argue that we should look at acts of legislative
entrepreneurship and not just at voting records?
12. What is Fenno’s Paradox and why is it not truly a paradox? What are some features thought to
create an incumbency advantage? What is the personal vote, and what are some behaviors that
legislators can perform to cultivate this vote?
13. What are the three forms of political ambition, and how do they relate to career, springboard,
and dead-end legislatures? What types of ambition are most common in the U.S. House and U.S.
Senate, respectively, and why?
14. What is nascent ambition and how do studies of this concept, like Fox and Lawless, differ in
perspective from traditional studies of ambition? What are some key findings regarding nascent
ambition and how do they relate to issues of descriptive representation?
15. What is strategic candidate theory and what are its key tenets? What is a quality candidate and
why are high quality candidates most likely to obey the tenets of strategic candidate theory?
16. What are the key behavioral traits that comprise a legislator’s home style? What are the four
concentric circles of the constituency? What are the two main stages of a legislator’s career?
What are the two main forms of presentation of self?
17. What is the specialization norm in Congress and how does it differ across the House and
Senate? What is the seniority norm and why does it play a crucial role in shaping the bargain
between leaders and individual legislators? How has the seniority norm changed over time?
18. How does the committee assignment process work? What are the main factors that determine
which individuals get assigned to which committees, and how do factors associated with the
distributive and information theories play a role in shaping these decisions? According to Miler,
how does adaptation play a role in linking committee assignments and legislative behavior?
19. Why is the selection of party leaders considered a principal-agent problem? Why have parties
traditionally selected leaders from the center of the party? Why, according to Heberlig, have
parties been more willing to select extremist leaders in recent years?
20. What is the median voter theorem, what is its key prediction, and what is its key assumption?
Why has this key assumption been violated so frequently in recent sessions of Congress? Why is
the status quo so important in predictions of the median voter theorem?
21. What are the three theories of parties in Congress and what do political scientists mean when
they ask whether parties “matter”? For each theory, under what circumstances do parties
matter and in what ways do parties matter?
22. What is the difference between positive and negative agenda setting? What is the Hastert Rule,
and how can the concept of a majority roll indicate whether this rule is being followed? What is
gatekeeping, and what are the similarities and differences between gatekeeping and negative
23. What is presentation of partisanship, and what are the different ways that a legislator can
position themselves in relation to the party brand? What are some factors that might determine
which way a legislator presents himself or herself?
24. What are informal caucuses and in what ways have they become more relevant in recent
sessions of Congress? What are some other factors that make certain pairs or groups of
legislators more likely to collaborate with one another?
25. What are the three behavioral norms in Congress and what does each say about how legislators
should act? How does the reciprocity norm relate to the concept of pork barrel politics?
26. Why do scholars distinguish between landmark legislation, substantive legislation, and symbolic
legislation when assessing the productivity of Congress in a given session? To what extent do
unified and divided government affect levels of Congressional productivity?
27. What are some of the ways that political scientists measure individual productivity and why are
LES scores superior to simpler measures of productivity? What are Volden’s key findings about
gender, majority status, and legislative effectiveness?
28. What is the difference between universal and minimum-winning coalitions? What are some of
the reasons that majority parties sometimes embrace bipartisanship when such votes are not
necessary to pass legislation?
29. Why are the rules of debate in each chamber crucial in understanding the success and failure of
legislation? What are the reasons party leaders have for favoring closed or open rules in the
House? How does the filibuster work in the Senate, and how has its usage changed in recent
years? What are conference committees and why are they important?
30. What is the fundamental difference between lawmaking in the budget process and most other
legislation? What is the difference between mandatory and discretionary spending? Why have
efforts to reduce the budget deficit failed, and what misunderstandings about the budget often
attend such discussions?
31. What is the revolving door phenomenon? What normative concerns are raised by this
phenomenon, and why does it matter whether revolvers are primarily sought out because of
expertise or connections?
32. Why is the conventional wisdom about the “vote buying” depiction of lobbying wrong, and what
is a more accurate depiction of how lobbying works? What types of information do lobbyists
provide members of Congress? What is the difference between inside and outside lobbying,
and according to Victor, when is each style utilized?
33. What is the difference between partisan and incumbent gerrymandering, and what are the
normative harms inflicted by each? What are packing and cracking strategies for partisan
gerrymandering, and when is each a more suitable strategy? What is the Cube Rule and why
must political scientists consider it when identifying partisan gerrymanders?
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