Life in the Middle: Marginalized Moderate Senators in the Era of Polarization (Paperback)

Life in the Middle: Marginalized Moderate Senators in the Era of Polarization By Neilan S. Chaturvedi Cover Image
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A long-held belief of political scientists is that moderate voices in the Senate act as power brokers between the ideological poles, yet year after year we see partisan gridlock in Congress. Some even argue that the shrinking number of moderates only increases their political influence.

In Life in the Middle, Neilan S. Chaturvedi argues that the belief in the powerful, pivotal moderate neglects their electoral circumstances and overestimates their legislative power. In other words, not all Senators are elected under equal circumstances. Chaturvedi posits that, unlike their ideological counterparts who are elected from states that share an ideological identity, moderates are elected from one of two constituencies: states that have a partisan lean to one party but have enough "swing voters" to vote in a moderate from the opposite party, or states that are nearly evenly divided in terms of partisanship.

Using unique interview data with legislative directors, retired United States Senators, and data compiled from the Congressional Record, Chaturvedi shows that, because of their precarious electoral circumstances, moderate senators must avoid active participation on bills and pushing controversial legislation. Lawmaking is much more variable and less moderating than previous theories assumed, as the process relies less on the work of moderates and more on party leaders. The book also demonstrates that mainstream concerns about polarization and its negative effects of increased gridlock and ideological legislation are true.

About the Author

Neilan S. Chaturvedi is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. His research has been published in Legislative Studies Quarterly, American Politics Review, and the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion, and Parties among many others. His research and teaching interests focus on the American Congress and Presidency, race and ethnic politics, elections, and public opinion.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780197599730
ISBN-10: 0197599737
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date: October 22nd, 2021
Pages: 224
Language: English