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Stalemate: Causes and Consequences of Legislative Gridlock

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0815709114
ISBN-10: 0815709110
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Editorial Reviews


"In this cogent account of the theory and practice of legislating in the American system, Sarah Binder demonstrates that party and bicameralism matter. Binder shows that differences in policy views across institutions might slow the enactment of new law, force compromise, or even produce stalemate. If she's right, and I think she is, then every American who cares about the quality of national governance must understand her argument and evidence." —Steven S. Smith, Washington University in St. Louis, 2/1/2003

"One way to analyze lawmaking is to see how many bills pass as a proportion of proposals seriously considered. This book carries out that logic exceptionally well. Along the way it offers many nice insights about bicameralism, the Senate, the Clinton era, and in general the whys and wherefores of legislating. For students of Congress the book is a must-read." —David R. Mayhew, Yale University, 2/1/2003

" Stalemate: Causes and Consequences of Legislative Gridlock is a persuasive and innovative book and it is this reader's hope that it will be a launching point for a new avenue of research on U.S. federal policy making." —Wendy J. Schiller, Brown University, Congress & The Presidency, 9/1/2003

"In this superb book, Sarah Binder addresses several questions that are central to contemporary scholarship about American national government.... This brief volume is a major addition to the scholarly literature about lawmaking, and thus merits sustained attention from scholars and graduate students.... Stalemate is a remarkable book." —C. Lawrence Evans, College of William and Mary, Perspectives on Politics, 3/1/2004

"... don't be misled by the size of the book. Binder has produced a deep and insghtful work that ranges from the views and expectations of the Framers to the unexpected development of an activist and vibrant Senate and the rising role of parties to the contemporary Congress, offering a slew of hypotheses about what stalemate is, when and why it occurs, and a creative and rich data analysis of more than five decades of congressional performance with which to test them.... This is a fine book filled with insights: a case study in careful, systematic, and nuanced research that should be read by anyone interested in legislatures and in policy making generally." —Norman J. Ornstein, The American Enterprise Institute, Political Science Quarterly, 4/1/2004

"Binder makes a solid contribution to a continuing scholarly discussion of the causes and consequences of legislative stalemate." —R. E. Dewhirst, Northwest Missouri State University, Choice, 11/1/2003

"Using 54 years of institutional, electoral, partisan, and policy material, Sarah Binder has written a commanding study of the incidence, the explanation, and the consequences of divided government and bicameral deadlock in Congress. Innovative in its exploratory range and its explanatory precision, Stalemate is contemporary political science at its very best. It is a 'must-read' book for all who wonder and worry about the performance and possibilities of our national policymaking institutions. " —Richard Fenno, Distinguished University Professor and Kenan Professor of Political Science, University of Rochester, 2/1/2003

About the Author

Sarah Binder is a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and an associate professor of political science at George Washington University. Her previous books include Minority Rights, Majority Rule: Partisanship and the Development of Congress (Cambridge University Press, 1997) and (with Steven S. Smith) Politics or Principle: Filibustering in the United States Senate, (Brookings, 1997).


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press (February 25, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815709110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815709114
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #822,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This book was required for a graduate political science class and overall I enjoyed it. Binder starts with the sources of gridlock. Gridlock is rooted in the Constitution, but Binder believes it was an "unintended consequence" of the framers. Next she attempts to measure gridlock in past Congresses. For anyone writing a critical review, her methods here to determine salient issues are a great part to discuss. She finds that gridlock is more frequent during divided government. For those writing papers, David Mayhew's Divided We Govern is great to compare with Stalemate. Binder ends the book with suggestions for reducing gridlock, but these ideas don't add much. I actually met Dr. Binder, and she said she only put the suggestions in there at the request of her publisher.

Overall, it's a pretty good book and a rather easy read. Anyone interested in research methods will appreciate how Binder measures gridlock. If you're writing a paper or a critical review, there's a lot to take away from this book.
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