Conditions for Success: Conditional Party Government in the Minnesota House of Representatives

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Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Claire Haeg, Political Science


Despite voter calls for bipartisanship in Congress, the national legislature has actually increased in terms of party polarization over the past two decades. In the United States House of Representatives, party structure is instrumental to legislative outcomes. Party leaders are in complete control: the rules, agenda, and legislative priority list are all at their disposal. For moderate members of the House, this may present a problem. Party leaders often gravitate to the polarized edges of their party, leaving middle-dwellers in the lurch. According to Aldrich and Rohde's conditional party government (CPG) theory, under certain conditions, party leaders will change the ideological composition of their party, making it more ideologically homogenous and differentiating it from the opposite party, creating party polarization and centralization of power in leadership positions. Scholars agree that the United States House of Representatives is polarized; however, does polarization exist in sub-national legislatures? This paper examines whether the Minnesota House of Representatives faces these same conditions and the consequences of conditional party government. It examines roll call voting patterns and NOMINATE scores for the Minnesota House of Representatives' 80th, 83rd, and 86th sessions, with a preliminary analysis of the upcoming 87th legislative session. In examining these legislative sessions, changes in majority party control are taken into account, as are specific pieces of important legislation in each session. Other theories of governance, including the cartel theory, median voter theorem, and the strategic party government theory are also discussed.