Allocating Costly Influence in Legislatures

Tessa Provins, Nathan W. Monroe, David Fortunato

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Committee seats endow holders with both policy influence and labor obligation. These benefits and costs present the organizational majority with an interesting choice: how many seats should it allocate to the opposition? We present a theoretical framework for understanding the allocation of committee seats by the majority coalition that incorporates both procedural and electoral concerns in the decision calculus and predict that when the majority is strong, the minority will be overrepresented on committees, but when the majority is weak, the minority will be underrepresented. Mechanistic, institutional, and contextual moderators to this choice framework are also discussed. We test our predictions by examining original data on the composition of over 2,000 committees across 98 American state and federal legislative chambers. The analysis yields strong support for our central predictions while suggesting interesting and intuitive contextual constraints on the majority’s tendency to exploit its position.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)1697-1713
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: May 10, 2022.

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