Governed by Experience: Political Careers and Party Loyalty in the Senate
In this article, we study the U.S. Senate to understand how legislators' previous experiences in elected office influence their political behavior. We posit that, as a result of their experiences in office, former governors in the Senate are less partisan than their colleagues. We code the political jobs held by senators between 1983 and 2015 and analyze the effects of these careers on party loyalty in Senate floor votes. We find that gubernatorial service is associated with a 7–8% decrease in Party Unity. We test several hypotheses for the observed “governor effect” and find that, relative to their colleagues, former governors are supported by donor networks that are less ideologically extreme. We conclude that the unique experiences associated with serving as governor, along with the personalized nature of governors' electoral support coalitions, affect a senator's relationship with the party. Ultimately, our analysis illuminates how personal attributes, such as prior experience in elected office, can inform the study of legislative behavior.
Congress and the Presidency
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Keena, & Knight-Finley, M. (2018). Governed by Experience: Political Careers and Party Loyalty in the Senate. Congress & the Presidency, 45(1), 20–40. https://doi.org/10.1080/07343469.2017.1401019