Political Parties and Policy Gridlock in American Government

Price:$159.95 + shipping
(Click the PayPal button to buy)
This book makes both theoretical and empirical contributions to three prominent areas of interest in the field of political science: identifying the causes of legislative gridlock in our national government; the debate over effects of divided government; and concern over increasing polarization of political parties in America. By incorporating the institutional factors of the Senate filibuster and the presidential veto with partisan factors of party polarization and the proportion of seats held by each party, the work articulates a precise theory about when gridlock is likely to occur. Contradicting many prominent accounts, this theory suggests that divided government does not affect gridlock once party polarization and party seat division are taken into account. It conducts a rigorous set of empirical tests which suggest that the author’s theory offers a significant improvement over existing models. The study helps the reader to better understand the conditions under which policy stability and policy change, carries important implications for political scientists contemplating future research, and for government reformers.


“Jones’s study is particularly relevant for today’s congressional scholars because his book addresses three popular issues, consequences of divided government, and importance of political parties. Basically, Jones believes that the widely adhered divided government hypotheses is based upon three flawed assumptions…. His model claims to avoid these fallacies…. Jones offers his own theory, entitled party polarization theory…. Using his own original data set from 1947 to 1998, Jones finds that higher polarization reduces major law production and major policy proposals when neither seat has a large advantage…. Particularly intriguing, Jones then examines 50 specific cases in the policy areas of labor-management, civil rights, and campaign finance reform….. with only four exceptions, his party polarization model explains what divided government cannot….His model does not simply add to the divided government literature; rather, it overthrows this conventional wisdom in favor of a system-wide approach with institutional and partisan factors. These new findings carry very different implications.” – APSA Legislative Studies Section Newsletter

“. . . distinguished by its empirical approach, going beyond aggregate level analysis that is common to recent work. the combination of case study and large-n analysis is particularly welcome, as the case studies both test and illustrate the theory. . . Jones is able to present technical, theoretical and empirical detail in very clear and easily accessible language, enhancing the value of the manuscript to a diverse audience. . . . an important contribution to an emerging literature on legislative performance. His approach is concise and creative – two attributes that will make this an appealing book for students, scholars, and political observers at large.” – Sarah Binder, Brookings Institution and George Washington University

“Jones supports his theory with sophisticated and complicated statistical analysis. He tests his theory on the overall production of legislation by Congress and on significant individual measures in the areas of labor relations, civil rights, and campaign finance. . . . well-organized and flows logically from part to part. The text is well illustrated by numerous tables and figures. . . . Jones’s conclusions should be of interest to historians, politicians, and others concerned with governmental reform. Mr. Jones’s book changed my mind about the cause of gridlock.” – Paul E. Isaac

Table of Contents

Table of contents (main headings):
Preface by Barbara Sinclair
1. Parties and the Problem of Gridlock: An Introduction
2. Rethinking Parties and Gridlock
3. Parties and the Volume of Law Production
4. Parties and the Fate of Major Legislative Proposals
5. Parties and Gridlock in Three Policy Areas: labor-Management Relations, Civil Rights, and Campaign Finance Reform
6. Conclusions
Appendices; Bibliography; Index

Other Political History Books

More Books by this Author