From the Back Cover
Politicians and pundits alike have complained that the divided governments of the last decades have led to legislative gridlock. Not so, argues Keith Krehbiel, who advances the provocative theory that divided government actually has little distinctive effect on legislative productivity. Raw political conflict is in fact the order of the day, occurring even when the same party controls the legislative and executive branches. Meticulously researched and anchored in real politics, Krehbiel's study shows that the pivotal vote on a piece of legislation is not the one that gives a bill a simple majority, but the one that allows its supporters to override a possible presidential veto or to halt a filibuster.
Krehbiel's tractable yet comprehensive theory demonstrates how a specific and identifiable decision maker determines final policy choices and how politicians who are trying to enact new policies focus their legislative efforts on these pivotal lawmakers. This theory of pivots also explains why, when bills are passed, winning coalitions usually are bipartisan and supermajority sized. Offering an incisive account of how gridlock is overcome and showing that political parties are less important in legislative-executive politics than previously thought, Pivotal Politics remakes our understanding of the American legislative process.