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2 Understanding Congressional Decisions Through Vectors 1.This presentation consists of 81 slides. 2.Right-click anywhere in a slide to advance to the next slide. 3.To return to a previous slide, right-click twice and select Previous from the drop-down menu. 4.You may end the program at any time by selecting the Back button on your browser tool bar.

3 Understanding voting decisions by Members of Congress is difficult because so many factors affect any one decision. Complex processes are made more understandable by using analogies. INTRODUCTION Understanding Congressional Decisions Through Vectors We use a vector model, but it does provide some insights that may be lacking in other modes of analysis. Understanding a phenomenon often requires mastering specialized terms and concepts. Clicking on bolded terms in this module will take you to the glossary.

4 Voting decisions in Congress are seldom based on simply making the "right" decision. Politics in Congress (as elsewhere) deals with issues over which reasonable people can disagree. There is seldom one correct answer. Members of Congress get a lot of advice from others as to which option they should support. Our task is to try to understand how a Member of Congress responds to conflicting advice. Why Not Just Do The Right Thing?

5 Members of Congress face many competing pressures. These pressures differ both in the direction they attempt to push the Member and the degree to which they influence the final decision. In many ways, Members are like billiard balls buffeted by different CUES. A ball on a billiard table struck by the cue ball gets pushed a measurable distance in a certain direction depending on the speed and direction of the cue ball.CUES Buffeted Like a Billiard Ball

6 Glossary Terms cue: A suggested course of action. Outside groups and individuals often suggest that compliance will be accompanied by rewards and opposition by sanctions. direction: The position toward which the influence hopes to move the target. In this module we represent the direction by the way in which the vector arrow points. We are also assuming that all vectors are clearly pointing either toward support or opposition. In the real world, influence are often not that clear. magnitude: - The strength of the influence. In this module, this is represented by the length of the vector pair: - Canceling out the vote of another Member by mutual agreement. Live pairs happen when both Members are on the floor but do not vote. Dead pairs allow absent Members to claim their absence if not later since they were there a colleague would have attended also and canceled their vote. target: - In this module were are using target to imply the subject of an influence. It is the thing that might be changed by applying to force of a vector. vector: - The representation of a force applied to an object. PAC: - Political Action Committee. Group that represents a point of view and parcels out campaign money to lawmakers or candidates sharing that point of view.

7 Advance to PresentationReturn to Previous Slide

8 A slight direct tap on one side pushes the ball a short distance Away from the direction of the incoming force. A harder direct hit From the other side pushes the ball further in the opposite direction.

9 A slight direct tap on one side pushes the ball a short distance away from the direction of the incoming force. A harder direct hit from the other side pushes the ball further in the opposite direction.

10 Result

11 Students of physics talk about physical forces as VECTORS. A vector has DIRECTION and MAGNITUDE. The direction tells where the force is pushing the TARGET. Magnitude indicates how much of a force is involved. A good understanding of the various vectors hitting a target allows the physicists to predict exactly where and how far the targeted ball will move. Although physics deals with physical force, the underlying principles apply in our model.VECTORSDIRECTIONMAGNITUDETARGET A Moment with the Physicists

12 Glossary Terms cue: A suggested course of action. Outside groups and individuals often suggest that compliance will be accompanied by rewards and opposition by sanctions. direction: The position toward which the influence hopes to move the target. In this module we represent the direction by the way in which the vector arrow points. We are also assuming that all vectors are clearly pointing either toward support or opposition. In the real world, influence are often not that clear. magnitude: - The strength of the influence. In this module, this is represented by the length of the vector pair: - Canceling out the vote of another Member by mutual agreement. Live pairs happen when both Members are on the floor but do not vote. Dead pairs allow absent Members to claim their absence if not later since they were there a colleague would have attended also and canceled their vote. target: - In this module were are using target to imply the subject of an influence. It is the thing that might be changed by applying to force of a vector. vector: - The representation of a force applied to an object. PAC: - Political Action Committee. Group that represents a point of view and parcels out campaign money to lawmakers or candidates sharing that point of view.

13 Advance to PresentationReturn to Previous Slide

14 Glossary Terms cue: A suggested course of action. Outside groups and individuals often suggest that compliance will be accompanied by rewards and opposition by sanctions. direction: The position toward which the influence hopes to move the target. In this module we represent the direction by the way in which the vector arrow points. We are also assuming that all vectors are clearly pointing either toward support or opposition. In the real world, influence are often not that clear. magnitude: - The strength of the influence. In this module, this is represented by the length of the vector pair: - Canceling out the vote of another Member by mutual agreement. Live pairs happen when both Members are on the floor but do not vote. Dead pairs allow absent Members to claim their absence if not later since they were there a colleague would have attended also and canceled their vote. target: - In this module were are using target to imply the subject of an influence. It is the thing that might be changed by applying to force of a vector. vector: - The representation of a force applied to an object. PAC: - Political Action Committee. Group that represents a point of view and parcels out campaign money to lawmakers or candidates sharing that point of view.

15 Advance to PresentationReturn to Previous Slide

16 Glossary Terms cue: A suggested course of action. Outside groups and individuals often suggest that compliance will be accompanied by rewards and opposition by sanctions. direction: The position toward which the influence hopes to move the target. In this module we represent the direction by the way in which the vector arrow points. We are also assuming that all vectors are clearly pointing either toward support or opposition. In the real world, influence are often not that clear. magnitude: - The strength of the influence. In this module, this is represented by the length of the vector pair: - Canceling out the vote of another Member by mutual agreement. Live pairs happen when both Members are on the floor but do not vote. Dead pairs allow absent Members to claim their absence if not later since they were there a colleague would have attended also and canceled their vote. target: - In this module were are using target to imply the subject of an influence. It is the thing that might be changed by applying to force of a vector. vector: - The representation of a force applied to an object. PAC: - Political Action Committee. Group that represents a point of view and parcels out campaign money to lawmakers or candidates sharing that point of view.

17 Advance to PresentationReturn to Previous Slide

18 Glossary Terms cue: A suggested course of action. Outside groups and individuals often suggest that compliance will be accompanied by rewards and opposition by sanctions. direction: The position toward which the influence hopes to move the target. In this module we represent the direction by the way in which the vector arrow points. We are also assuming that all vectors are clearly pointing either toward support or opposition. In the real world, influence are often not that clear. magnitude: - The strength of the influence. In this module, this is represented by the length of the vector pair: - Canceling out the vote of another Member by mutual agreement. Live pairs happen when both Members are on the floor but do not vote. Dead pairs allow absent Members to claim their absence if not later since they were there a colleague would have attended also and canceled their vote. target: - In this module were are using target to imply the subject of an influence. It is the thing that might be changed by applying to force of a vector. vector: - The representation of a force applied to an object. PAC: - Political Action Committee. Group that represents a point of view and parcels out campaign money to lawmakers or candidates sharing that point of view.

19 Advance to PresentationReturn to Previous Slide

20 With some allowances, the physical laws associated with vectors can be applied to understand how individual Members of Congress make decisions. Analysts of Congress cannot measure the direction and magnitude of the vectors exactly. Our targets are human beings whose reactions to an influence is based more on perception than on the physical laws of nature. Yet by making some assumptions, we can apply what we know from the physical world to better understand congressional decision-making. Of Physics and Politics

21 Political necessity and personal preferences lead Members of Congress to pay attention to a variety of potential forces. Some Members feel free to respond to their own personal preferences based on years of experience. Others may be more responsive to constituents, so that communications from citizens become more important. Presidents have their own political preferences and attempt to influence congressional outcomes. Interest groups are organized around various policy areas and preferred outcomes. The Source of the Force

22 The expectation they will represent constituents make communications from citizens important. Presidents have their own political preferences and attempt to influence congressional outcomes. Interest groups are organized around various policy areas and preferred outcomes.

23 People who serve in Congress cant measure the force of these influences numerically. But they do develop a gut feeling of who they need to pay attention to and who they can disregard. Some general strategies Members use include: [click to view each] Who Should I Listen To? Out of sight, out of mind: If you dont hear from a group or individual, they dont care enough about the issue to be important. My people, not your people: Members of Congress are elected from a constituency and feel more beholden to constituents or groups who have a constituency tie. Politics makes consistent bedfellows: Members of Congress ofen see themselves as a team of fellow party members who may be encouraged to cooperate by a president from their party. Picking and choosing is a part of politics: Members of Congress often have to make tough choices, heeding the desires of one group or individual over another.

24 Members also vary in how much attention they pay to potential sources of influence. Member strategies in this realm include: [click to view each] How Much Should I Listen to Them? You cant be a statesman without being elected: Needing to win election drives many decisions. Members with weak electoral margins are much more responsive to constituents than those who win in a walk. In unanimity there is strength: Interest groups and presidential administrations that speak with one consistent voice exert more influence than those who are diverse. Two interest groups of equal importance to the Member pushing in opposite directions can cancel each other out. Presentation and persistence matter: Groups and individuals skillful at making their case with facts, figures, and local applications increase their potential to influence.

25 In order to use the vector model, we need to represent a Congress Members options in a graphic form. Let us assume the Member has three choices as represented below. He or she can vote for, vote against, or abstain from voting on the legislation. Each Member has a starting point. We will call it a neutral position, meaning they are neither for or against it. The scale indicates how far the Member could move away from having a neutral (or no preference) position on the issue. The Playing Field

26 Strong Opposition Weak OppositionStarting Point/ Neutral/ Abstention Weak SupportStrong Support Members Position: No Preference

27 Different influences can come along and push the Member of Congress along the scale toward one of the decision points. The Vectors in Action

28 Members Position: Weak Support The Vector: Personal Preference +3 Strong SupportWeak SupportStarting Point/ No Preference/ Abstention Weak OppositionStrong Opposition

29 Strong Opposition Weak OppositionStarting Point/ No Preference/ Abstention Weak SupportStrong Support Strong Opposition Weak OppositionStarting Point/ No Preference/ Abstention Weak SupportStrong Support Members Position: Weak Opposition The Vector: Interest Groups Pressure -5

30 Members of Congress make choices on issues. Let us assume that Congress is taking up a bill to limit handgun ownership. We will also assume that Members of Congress are able to place an explicit weight on the importance of various influences that might affect their vote. For example, a Member might say that interest group pressure is twice as important as the presidents position. While such precision is unrealistic, we do know that Members do make rough estimates of the relative importance of various influences every day. Political decisions may not be driven by a precise formula, but they are far from simple random actions. To make our task easier, we will limit the number and variety of outside influences. The Issue

31 While there are some general rules, vectors ultimately apply to individuals with unique political needs. Let us assume that Representative Able is faced with a vote on the proposed limit on handgun ownership. Previous experience and his evaluation of the political environment have led him to weight the potential influences on his vote in this way: Preparing for Action 1- Brady Campaign to Stop Gun Violence* 3- National Rifle Association (NRA) 1- Presidents preference 5- Constituency opinion 3- Personal preference (FOR LIMITS) WEIGHT (in hypothetical power units) INFLUENCE/VECTOR *Formerly Handgun Control Inc. In the abstract, Representative Able has decided that constituency opinion is the most important factor followed by his personal preference and input from one of the two interest groups. The presidents position and that of the Brady Campaign are relatively unimportant.

32 The vote is about to occur and Representative Able has received no guidance from anyone. He feels he has to vote, so his decision based on personal preference alone would look like this: Vectors in Action: A Simple Decision

33 Strong Opposition Weak OppositionStarting Point/ No Preference/ Abstention Weak SupportStrong Support Members Position: Weak Support The Lesson The Vector: Personal Preference +3

34 Lacking any other pressures, yet feeling an obligation to vote, Congressman Able falls back on his own personal preferences, perhaps based on his upbringing or ideology. He may be able to guess where other players (constituents, interest groups, or the president) stand, but their lack of action on this issue suggests he does not have to pay much attention to them. His strength of commitment and the lack of other pressures also imply that his vote will be a timid one. He probably will not be going around to line up other supporters. Policy makers respond to those interested and aware enough to make themselves heard, or in colloquial terms, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. The Lesson

35 At times the influences are so strong and consistent that the decision is easy. In these cases, the strength of the influences not only suggests how to vote but also how much vigor to put into it. Let us assume that Congressman Able has heard from all of the following in support of more gun control. Emboldening Vectors - National Rifle Association (NRA) +1- Brady Campaign to Stop Gun Violence* +1- Presidents preference (FOR LIMITS) +5- Constituency opinion (FOR LIMITS) +3- Personal preference (FOR LIMITS) WEIGHT (in hypothetical power units) INFLUENCE/VECTOR *Formerly Handgun Control Inc.

36 The NRA may not know he values their input and write him off prematurely. Under these conditions, his decision would look like this:

37 Presidents Preference +1 Personal Preference Strong Opposition Weak OppositionStarting Point/ Neutral/ Abstention Weak SupportStrong Support Members Position: Strong Support The Lesson Constituency +5 Brady Campaign +1

38 Numerous consistent pressures not only suggest how the Member should vote but also increases the intensity of the commitment. Vector forces are cumulative. With everyone pushing the Member in the same direction, he or she will become emboldened, making a floor speech on behalf of the proposal and encouraging colleagues to support it. This is an example of a decision when all the forces are aligned in the same direction. The Lesson

39 So far we have assumed that all the influences are pushing the Member in the same direction. Obviously, this is not always (or even often) the case. What happens when conflict arises? Either a Member must ignore one or more of the influences or find a way to deal with multiple pressures. It is here that the vector model promises to add the most insights. Let us assume that Congressman Abel is faced with the following influences: When Conflict Arises So far we have assumed that all the influences are pushing the Member in the same direction. Obviously, this is not always (or even often) the case. What happens when conflict arises? Either a Member must ignore one or more of the influences or find a way to deal with multiple pressures. It is here that the vector model promises to add the most insight. Let us assume that Congressman Able is faced with the following influences: - National Rifle Association (NRA) - Brady Campaign to Stop Gun Violence* - Presidents preference -5- Constituency opinion (AGAINST LIMITS) +3- Personal preference (FOR LIMITS) WEIGHT (in hypothetical power units) INFLUENCE/VECTOR *Formerly Handgun Control Inc. Under the specified conditions, the decision-making process would look something like this:

40 Personal Preference Strong Opposition Weak OppositionStarting Point/ Neutral/ Abstention Weak SupportStrong Support Members Position: Weak Opposition The Lesson Constituency -5

41 Conflicting forces can cancel each other out and dampen each others influence. In this case, strong constituency pressure against the legislation tempered the Members personal support, leading to weak opposition. The Lesson

42 At times, Members of Congress are under equal pressures to vote in conflicting ways. In the following case, strong constituency pressure is completely cancelled out by opposing personal preference, presidential demands, and interest group pressure. The decision would look like this: Damned if I Do, Damned if I Dont Do

43 Personal Preference Strong Opposition Weak OppositionStarting Point/ Neutral/ Abstention Weak SupportStrong Support Members Position: Equal Pressure The Lesson Constituency -5 Presidents Preference +1 Bradys Campaign +1

44 What does one do when the pressures are perfectly equal? Often this leads to inaction. Members of Congress have a number of options: [click to view each] The Lessons Flip a coin: Make a decision irrespective of the pressures. Opt out by voting present. This maintains ones attendance record but does not count toward the final vote. Take a walk: Simply do not vote on the issue. Have ones cake and eat it too: Congressional procedures allow Members to PAIR with a colleague who would have voted the other way. Both participants announce how they would have voted, but their votes do not count toward the total. This allows the Members to soften the blow of offending some of those pushing him or her to vote the other direction by being able to say their vote did not affect the outcome.PAIR

45 Glossary Terms cue: A suggested course of action. Outside groups and individuals often suggest that compliance will be accompanied by rewards and opposition by sanctions. direction: The position toward which the influence hopes to move the target. In this module we represent the direction by the way in which the vector arrow points. We are also assuming that all vectors are clearly pointing either toward support or opposition. In the real world, influence are often not that clear. magnitude: - The strength of the influence. In this module, this is represented by the length of the vector pair: - Canceling out the vote of another Member by mutual agreement. Live pairs happen when both Members are on the floor but do not vote. Dead pairs allow absent Members to claim their absence if not later since they were there a colleague would have attended also and canceled their vote. target: - In this module were are using target to imply the subject of an influence. It is the thing that might be changed by applying to force of a vector. vector: - The representation of a force applied to an object. PAC: - Political Action Committee. Group that represents a point of view and parcels out campaign money to lawmakers or candidates sharing that point of view.

46 Advance to PresentationReturn to Previous Slide

47 The magnitude of vectors varies across individual Members of Congress depending on their political needs. Let us assume that Congressman Junior is in his first term after winning a tough race by a small margin. He is faced with a decision to strengthen gun control legislation, a position regularly taken by members of his party. In his campaign, he often told the story of how his brother was wounded in a carjacking as the basis for his desire for stronger gun laws. His district voted strongly for a popular president of the opposite party. Congressman Junior received modest PAC contributions and a clear endorsement from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a pro gun control interest group. Polls show that 60% of his constituents and 75% of those who voted for him support tougher gun control legislation. The NRA is a presence in his district. He realizes he will never get their full support, but hopes to stake out a position that will not make him a target for removal by them.PAC Up Close and Personal: The Vector Model in Action

48 Glossary Terms cue: A suggested course of action. Outside groups and individuals often suggest that compliance will be accompanied by rewards and opposition by sanctions. direction: The position toward which the influence hopes to move the target. In this module we represent the direction by the way in which the vector arrow points. We are also assuming that all vectors are clearly pointing either toward support or opposition. In the real world, influence are often not that clear. magnitude: - The strength of the influence. In this module, this is represented by the length of the vector pair: - Canceling out the vote of another Member by mutual agreement. Live pairs happen when both Members are on the floor but do not vote. Dead pairs allow absent Members to claim their absence if not later since they were there a colleague would have attended also and canceled their vote. target: - In this module were are using target to imply the subject of an influence. It is the thing that might be changed by applying to force of a vector. vector: - The representation of a force applied to an object. PAC: - Political Action Committee. Group that represents a point of view and parcels out campaign money to lawmakers or candidates sharing that point of view.

49 Advance to PresentationReturn to Previous Slide

50 Which influences do you think will be most important in his decision? [choose two] The president His constituency The National Rifle Association (NRA) His personal preference The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

51 Click Try Again. You seem to have missed something. The President Try AgainCorrect Answer Did you make two selections? If not, return to make a second choice.

52 Junior and political insecure Members are very attuned to their constituencies, especially their base of supporters. Given the dramatic impact on his life and his public commitment to gun control, personal preference is likely to play a pretty big role in his decision. Constituency Try AgainAdvance to Presentation Correct! Did you make two selections? If not, return to make a second choice.

53 Click Try Again. You seem to have missed something. National Rifle Association Try AgainCorrect Answer Did you make two selections? If not, return to make a second choice.

54 Junior and political insecure Members are very attuned to their constituencies, especially their base of supporters. Given the dramatic impact on his life and his public commitment to gun control, personal preferences is likely to play a pretty big role in his decision. Personal Preference Try AgainAdvance to Presentation Correct! Did you make two selections? If not, return to make a second choice.

55 Click Try Again. You seem to have missed something. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Try AgainCorrect Answer Did you make two selections? If not, return to make a second choice.

56 Junior and politically insecure Members are very attuned to their constituencies, especially their base of supporters. Given the dramatic impact on his life and his public commitment to gun control, personal preference is likely to play a pretty big role in his decision. The Correct Choices: Constituency and Personal Preference

57 Congressman Junior recognizes the following potential influences and has weighted their magnitude as follows: - The President (AGAINST THE LEGISLATION) - The National Rifle Association (AGAINST THE LEGISLATION) +2- The Brady Campaign (FOR THE LEGISLATION) +3- Personal preference (FOR THE LEGISLATION) +3- His constituency (FOR THE LEGISLATION) WEIGHT (in hypothetical power units) INFLUENCE/VECTOR

58 Strong supporter Weak supporter Abstention Weak opponent Strong opponent Using the vector approach, where do you expect he will come out on this vote?

59 That is probably an overstatement. While Congressman Junior would undoubtedly support the legislation, there are some opposing pressures that would temper his support. He is likely quietly to vote for the bill but not serve as a major strategist trying to drum up support among his colleagues. Strong Supporter Try AgainCorrect Answer

60 While Congressman Junior would undoubtedly support the legislation, there are some opposing pressures that would temper his support. He is likely to quietly vote for the bill but not serve as a major strategist trying to drum up support among his colleagues. Weak Supporter Correct Choice Graphically, the decision would look something like this: - The President (AGAINST THE LEGISLATION) - The National Rifle Association (AGAINST THE LEGISLATION) +2- The Brady Campaign (FOR THE LEGISLATION) +3- Personal preference (FOR THE LEGISLATION) +3- His constituency (FOR THE LEGISLATION) WEIGHT (in hypothetical power units) INFLUENCE/VECTOR

61 Constituency Strong Opposition Weak OppositionStarting Point/ Neutral/ Abstention Weak SupportStrong Support Members Position: Weak Support NRA Personal Preference +3 Bradys Campaign +2 Presidents Preference

62 Click Try Again. You seem to have missed something. Abstention Try AgainCorrect Answer

63 Click Try Again. You seem to have missed something. Weak Opponent Try AgainCorrect Answer

64 Click Try Again. You seem to have missed something. Strong Opponent Try AgainCorrect Answer

65 The magnitude of vectors varies across individual Members of Congress depending on their political needs. Let us assume that Congressman Senior is in her tenth term after winning regularly with a margin of over 60%. She is also faced with a decision to strengthen gun control legislation, the favored position of her party. Her district voted strongly for a popular president of her party, and as a party leader she wishes him to look good as a strong supporter of the 2 nd Amendments right to bear arms clause. On the personal level, she is conflicted. She does not like guns but understands the philosophical arguments opposing controls. Recognizing her past support on anti-gun control legislation, the NRA supported her campaign with the maximum allowable direct contribution ($5000 in the primary and $5000 in the general election). They also favored her with large independent expenditures. Polls show that 70% of her constituents and 85% of those who voted for her oppose tougher gun control legislation, understandable in a rural district with many hunters. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has yet to make any headway in the district. Up Close and Personal: The Vector Model in Action II

66 Which influences do you think will be most important in his decision? [choose two] The President Her Constituency The National Rifle Association Her Personal Preference The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

67 GOOD. Party leaders are expected to support presidents of their party. This would be pretty easy for Representative Senior since constituency, personal, and key interest group influences are also pushing her in the same direction. The President Try AgainAdvance to Presentation Did you make two selections? If not, return to make a second choice.

68 By all rights, Representative Senior does not HAVE to pay much attention to her constituency given her strong electoral margin. On the other hand, she might have such a strong margin BECAUSE she has been attentive to their desires. In this case supporting her constituents views is not difficult since the other important pressures point in the same direction. Constituency Try AgainAdvance to Presentation Did you make two selections? If not, return to make a second choice.

69 GOOD. The NRA looks as if it is important in her decision, and it well might be. On the other hand, she might be the beneficiary of the NRA support as a reward for past support which originated from other pressures. National Rifle Association Try AgainAdvance to Presentation Did you make two selections? If not, return to make a second choice.

70 NOT A BAD CHOICE. Personal preference on the issue is not very important given her lack of passion on gun control per se. On the other hand, many Members feel passionate about maintaining consistency. Personal Preference Try AgainAdvance to Presentation Did you make two selections? If not, return to make a second choice.

71 Click Try Again. You seem to have missed something. Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Try AgainAdvance to Presentation Did you make two selections? If not, return to make a second choice.

72 Congressman Senior recognizes the following potential influences and has weighted their magnitude as follows: 0- The Brady Campaign (FOR THE LEGISLATION) -3- Personal Preference (AGAINST THE LEGISLATION) -2- Her Constituency (AGAINST THE LEGISLATION) -4- The President (AGAINST THE LEGISLATION) -4- The National Rifle Association (AGAINST THE LEGISLATION) WEIGHT (in hypothetical power units) INFLUENCE/VECTOR

73 Strong supporter Weak supporter Abstention Weak opponent Strong opponent Using the vector model approach where do you expect he will come out on this vote?

74 Click Try Again. You seem to have missed something. Strong Supporter Try AgainCorrect Answer

75 Click Try Again. You seem to have missed something. Weak Supporter Try AgainCorrect Answer

76 Click Try Again. You seem to have missed something. Abstention Try AgainCorrect Answer

77 Click Try Again. You seem to have missed something. Weak Opponent Try AgainCorrect Answer

78 Strong Opponent Correct Choice! With every important influence pushing her in the same direction, Representative Senior not only will vote against the legislation but she is likely to play a key and very public role in trying to line up other opponents. This could involve trying to move weak opponents into becoming strong opponents (who will then go out on their own to try to influence other colleagues). She may also try to temper the support of Members planning to vote for the legislation. She might try to move them from being strong supporters working actively for the legislation to weak supporters simply voting for it. Graphically, the decision would look something like this:

79 Strong Opposition Weak OppositionStarting Point/ Neutral/ Abstention Weak SupportStrong Support Members Position: Strong Opponent Off the Scale Personal Preference -3 Presidents Preference -4 Constituency -2 NRA -4

80 In order to make the concepts more understandable, this module has made a number of simplifying assumptions (above and beyond the assumption that we can precisely measure the magnitude of influences). Two of the simplifications are: [click to view each] What is Missing From This Picture? 1.LIMITING THE NUMBER OF INFLUENCES: Members of Congress are buffeted by many more potential influences. For example, we have not really taken into account party leaders or Members staff in our analysis. The module also only includes two interest groups, when in reality dozens may be involved in any one decision. 2.ASSUMING CLARITY OF DIRECTION: The module assumes the message from each influence source is clear and unambiguous. That is not always the case. For example, even though a Member may desire to support the position of his or her constituency strongly, constituencies who split down the middle on an issue may nullify their potential influence. Divided constituents may force Members to choose among components of the constituency. They might put more weight on past supporters or on those who are more vocal. In any case the more split the constituency, the more it reduces the magnitude of that influence.

81 Some Overall Lessons (click to view each) Timing is Important – Pressure not applied is largely pressure which has little effect. Representatives try to anticipate reactions less than react to real ones. Decisions are often made before all the influences are apparent. Magnitude of an influence is not universal - Members of Congress vary as to what they deem important, but that variation is not simply random. Some patterns do prevail. The magnitude and direction of influences are additive - Equal influence in opposite directions can cancel each other out, while consistent influences pushing in the same direction may strengthen a Members position. Support and opposition form a continuum - There is a difference between strong and weak supporters of a position, while balanced pressures may lead Members of Congress to opt out of a tough vote. Moving someone from strong support to strong opposition requires significant pressure. In some cases it may be enough to move them only a short distance to gain ones goal. For example, on a close vote it may be enough to move some Members from weak opposition to opting out.

82 Brought to you by The Dirksen Congressional Center


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