Conditions at home: analyzing constituent versus party pressures on free trade 公开

Ratner, Stephen Andrew (2012)

Permanent URL:


Trade policy within the U.S. Congress has been a controversial issue that sparks tremendous debate. Due to its nature as a pocketbook and international issue, a wide range of interests are activated on any given free trade agreement that influence legislators to different extents. This study seeks to understand how members of the U.S. Senate determined their votes on five major free trade agreements from 2002 to 2011 by examining: (1) constituent demands, (2) party, (3) national interest group pressures, and (4) ideology. Using the factors model and sectors model as two complementary models of political economy, this study predicts that senators will respond favorably to constituent interests within their states to increase their odds of reelection. Overall, the study seeks to address the party versus constituency puzzle: to what extent do senators base votes on constituency interests, when they also face sometimes-different party and ideological pressures? Additionally, what influences the direction of votes on free trade agreements? To address the question, a probit regression analysis was employed with variables addressing many of the major actors outlined in John Kingdon's seminal work on legislative decision-making. The findings of this study support the hypothesis that senators from more export-oriented states will support free trade, even if that means potentially bucking their own party. While partisanship alone cannot predict vote outcomes due to the cross-partisan nature of the votes-when a significant contingent of one party joins with the other for passage-breaking the Democratic Party down by its ideological wings reinforces the ability to determine how each senator will vote on free trade.

Table of Contents

Research Question 1

Literature Review 3

Statement of Hypotheses 18

Research Design 21

Analyzing the Results 28

Conclusion and Opportunities for Future Research 43

Appendices 46

Works Cited 51

Data Sources 55

About this Honors Thesis

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files