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Utah's Foremost Platform for Undergraduate Research Presentation
2022 Abstracts

The Effects of Individual Ideology on US Congressional Productivity

Presenter: Mitchell Zufelt
Authors: Mitchell Zufelt
Faculty Advisor: Joshua Price
Institution: Southern Utah University

Multiple sources claim that ideologically extreme members of the U.S. Federal Congress cause that legislature to be less productive. I evaluate that claim. The literature on congressional productivity and the factors affecting it is reviewed. The difficulties of empirically measuring and studying congressional productivity are discussed. Causal inference within the realm of legislative politics is shown to be difficult due to data constraints; an example of an attempted causal model is given. Simple statistical analysis, however, is used in collaboration with the extant literature to demonstrate that the ideological extremity of individual congresspeople has less effect on legislative output than does overall agreement in policy preferences. Thus, similarity in policy preferences across the legislature is concluded to be more important in determining congressional productivity than whether or not those preferences are ideologically extreme.