The Significance of Roll Calls in Voting Bodies: A Model and Statistical Estimation

Citation:

Gary King. 1986. “The Significance of Roll Calls in Voting Bodies: A Model and Statistical Estimation.” Social Science Research, 15, Pp. 135–152. Copy at http://j.mp/2oF8ez3
The Significance of Roll Calls in Voting Bodies: A Model and Statistical Estimation

Abstract:

In the long history of legislative roll call analyses, there continues to exist a particularly troubling problem: There is no satisfactory method for measuring the relative importance or significance of individual roll calls. A measure of roll call significance would be interesting in and of itself, but many have realized that it could also substantially improve empirical research. The consequence of this situation is that hundreds of researchers risk heteroskedastic disturbances (resulting in inefficient estimates and biased standard errors and test statistics), are unable to appropriately choose the roll calls most suited to their theory (resulting in analyses that may not correctly test their theory), and often use methods that create more problems than they solve (resulting in selection bias, unrealistic weighting schemes, or relatively subjective measures). This article introduces a new method designed to meet these problems. Based on an application of Box-Tiao intervention analysis, the method extracts from observed voting participation scores the "revealed preferences" of legislators as a measure of roll call significance. Applying this method to roll calls from the U.S. Senate demonstrates the success of the method and suggests its utility in applied research.
Last updated on 07/29/2013