Ulric B. and Evelyn L. Bray Social Sciences Seminar
Abstract: While most common-space estimations rely on members who served in both the House and Senate as "bridges" to scale the remaining members, this assumes that these "bridge members" do not change their preferences when they change chambers. Such an assumption conflicts with standard notions of representation, that is, that legislators' votes reflect (at least to some degree) the wishes of their constituents. We examine the constancy of this common-space voting assumption by focusing on the subset of House members who move to the Senate: those who come from statewide House districts. Using these members as the bridge actors – and thus bridging by constituency explicitly – in a one-dimensional IRT model, we find that the standard assumption of chamber-switchers in common-space estimations is technically, but immediately, false. While there are statistically distinguishable differences in House and Senate voting records for chamber switchers, they are not sufficiently large to meaningfully undermine bridging.
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