[gov3009-l] Peress on "Estimating Proposal and Status Quo Locations Using Voting and Cosponsorship Data"

Justin Grimmer jgrimmer at fas.harvard.edu
Mon Dec 1 10:16:56 EST 2008

Dear Applied Statistics Community,
Please join us this Wednesday, December 3rd when Michael Peress, Department
of Political Science, University of Rochester, will be presenting,
"Estimating Proposal and Status Quo Locations Using Voting and Cosponsorship
Data".  Michael provided the following abstract,

Theories of lawmaking generate predictions for the policy outcome as a
function of the
status quo. These theories are difficult to test because existing ideal
point estimation techniques
do not recover the locations of proposals or status quos. Instead, such
techniques only recover
cutpoints. This limitation has meant that existing tests of theories of
lawmaking have been
indirect in nature. I propose a method of directly measuring ideal points,
proposal locations, and
status quo locations on the same multidimensional scale, by employing a
combination of voting
data, bill and amendment cosponsorship data, and the congressional record.
My approach works
as follows. First, we can identify the locations of legislative proposals
(bills and amendments) on
the same scale as voter ideal points by jointly scaling voting and
cosponsorship data. Next, we
can identify the location of the final form of the bill using the location
of last successful
amendment (which we already know). If the bill was not amended, then the
final form is simply
the original bill location. Finally, we can identify the status quo point by
employing the cutpoint
we get from scaling the final passage vote. To implement this procedure, I
automatically coded
data on the congressional record available from www.thomas.gov. I apply this
approach to recent
sessions of the U.S. Senate, and use it to test the implications of
competing theories of

A copy of the paper is available here:

The applied statistics workshop meets at 12 noon in room K-354, CGIS-Knafel
(1737 Cambridge St) with a light lunch.  Presentations start at 1215 pm and
usually end around 130 pm.  As always, all are welcome and please email me
with any questions.

Justin Grimmer
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