Speeches and Legislative Extremism in the U.S. Senate

  • Jean François Godbout
  • Bei Yu
Part of the Studies in Public Choice book series (SIPC, volume 15)


The following chapter investigates the relationship between legislative activity and legislative speech in the U.S. Senate between the 101st and 108th Congress. The analysis measures the link between the quantity of speech used on the floor by particular senators and their individual level of legislative productivity. This chapter focuses on the number of bills introduced and cosponsored by senators. Controls for party affiliation, majority status, ideology, and proximity to an election were also added to determine whether certain context specific factors have an impact on the amount of floor speeches. The analysis demonstrates that the existence of a relationship between speech and action in the policy processes. However, this relationship is mitigated by ideology (liberals speak more) and by the distribution of partisanship in the Senate (senators in the minority obstruct more). The analysis also indicates that in later congresses, more conservative senators began to behave just like their liberal counterpart. The previous findings seem to indicate that the recent increase in roll call polarization in the U.S. Congress is also present in legislative debates and proceedings.


Individual Level Variable Legislative Activity Party Affiliation Roll Call Vote Divided Government 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank Daniel Diermeier and the Ford Motor Company Center for Global Citizenship for allowing us to use the data on senatorial speech. All errors are the authors’ responsibility.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean François Godbout
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bei Yu
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceSimon Fraser UniversityVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Political Institutions and Public Choice ProgramDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Kellogg School of ManagementNorthwestern UniversityChicagoUSA

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