Partisan Bridging and Its Gendered Dimensions
Over the last fews years, anyone tuning into the nightly news would likely assume that bipartisan compromise in Congress is a thing of the past. It often seems as if politicians are more concerned with tearing down or stalling the other party's policy goals than providing real solutions for the American citizenry. Although scholars, politicians, and political commentators alike frequently cite a desire to see more compromise on the floor of Congress (and in the state houses), research on bipartisanship - why it occurs, how it occurs, and when - remains limited. This dissertation seeks to fill this gap by asking two questions: (1) How can we predict when legislators will cross the partisan aisle to engage in partisan compromise? (2) Does a legislator's gender condition his or her ability to engage in compromise? Through individual level analyses of sponsorship and vote choice, an aggregate level analysis of policy diffusion, and two original survey experiments, this dissertation develops a theory of ``partisan bridging" that aims to help scholars better understand when and why compromise might occur. The results suggest that personal preferences can lead legislators to view the benefits of crossing the aisle as greater than the potential costs, particularly preferences grounded in a sense of group membership. However, the results also (unexpectedly) suggest that women legislators may face greater costs when engaging in compromise on ``woman-owned" issues. Thus, women legislators may face the highest costs for engaging in compromise in exactly those areas they may feel most compelled to compromise on.
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