Post Two

My analysis will look at whip counts to determine the independent variables causing Congressmen to change their anticipated vote in the twenty-nine day period leading up to the NAFTA vote.  The independent variable—called “Shift”—indicates the direction (toward “yes” or “no”) of a Congressman’s change in opinion over this twenty-nine day period.

Box-Steffensmeier conducted an analysis of the NAFTA vote that looked at the relationship between a Congressman’s decision to vote for or against NAFTA and several variables related to constituency and interest group factors.[1]  This analysis will apply a different independent variable to Box-Steffensmeier’s dependent variables.  Instead of looking at the final vote of Congressmen, this analysis will look at the change in opinions of Congressmen over the twenty-nine day period leading up to the vote.

The dependent variables involving interest group factors include “Corporate Contributions” and “Labor Contributions.”  Corporate contributions are measured as the “proportion of total contributions to the member’s campaign committee from corporate political action committees.”  It is expected that corporate contributions will cause Congressmen to shift their votes toward “yes,” because corporations will be likely to support free trade.  Labor contributions are measured as the “proportion of total contributions to the member’s campaign committee from labor-related political action committees.”  It is expected that labor contributions will cause Congressmen to shift their votes toward “no,” because union groups will be opposed to the increased competition that comes free trade.  This hypothesis suggests a negative relationship between the “Shift” variable and “Corporate Contributions,” and a positive relationship between “Shift” and “Labor Contributions.”

The independent variables involving constituency factors include the proportion of private-sector workers in unions (“Union Membership”), the proportion of the 1992 presidential vote that went to Ross Perot in a Congressman’s district (“Perot Vote”), median household income in a district in thousands of dollars (“Household Income”), and a dummy variable determining whether the Congressman’s state shares a border with Mexico (Mexican Border).  Box-Steffensmeier determined that some of these constituency factors had an effect on the final NAFTA vote, but it is hypothesized that they will not have an effect on the “Shift” variable, since constituent factors will color a Congressman’s initial opinion, but they will not sway the opinions of Congressmen in the months leading up to the vote.


[1] The Strategic Timing of Position Taking in Congress: A Study of the North American Free Trade Agreement

Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier, Laura W. Arnold and Christopher J. W. Zorn

The American Political Science Review , Vol. 91, No. 2 (Jun., 1997), pp. 324-338

Comments

  1. mmsalgadoflores says:

    Interesting approach. I like that your analysis will look at the change in opinion up to the vote instead of just the final vote. It’ll be interesting to see the timing involved in successfully changing a vote.