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Choosing the Leader: Leadership Elections in the U.S. House of Representatives

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The first comprehensive study in more than forty years to explain congressional leadership selection   How are congressional party leaders chosen? In the first comprehensive study since Robert Peabody’s classic Leadership in Congress, political scientists Matthew Green and Douglas Harris draw on newly collected data about U.S. House members who have sought leadership posit The first comprehensive study in more than forty years to explain congressional leadership selection   How are congressional party leaders chosen? In the first comprehensive study since Robert Peabody’s classic Leadership in Congress, political scientists Matthew Green and Douglas Harris draw on newly collected data about U.S. House members who have sought leadership positions from the 1960s to the present—data including whip tallies, public and private vote commitments, interviews, and media accounts—to provide new insights into how the selection process truly works.   Elections for congressional party leaders are conventionally seen as a function of either legislators’ ideological preferences or factors too idiosyncratic to permit systematic analysis. Analyzing six decades’ worth of information, Harris and Green find evidence for a new comprehensive model of vote choice in House leadership elections that incorporates both legislators’ goals and their connections with leadership candidates. This study will stand for years to come as the definitive treatment of a crucial aspect of American politics.


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The first comprehensive study in more than forty years to explain congressional leadership selection   How are congressional party leaders chosen? In the first comprehensive study since Robert Peabody’s classic Leadership in Congress, political scientists Matthew Green and Douglas Harris draw on newly collected data about U.S. House members who have sought leadership posit The first comprehensive study in more than forty years to explain congressional leadership selection   How are congressional party leaders chosen? In the first comprehensive study since Robert Peabody’s classic Leadership in Congress, political scientists Matthew Green and Douglas Harris draw on newly collected data about U.S. House members who have sought leadership positions from the 1960s to the present—data including whip tallies, public and private vote commitments, interviews, and media accounts—to provide new insights into how the selection process truly works.   Elections for congressional party leaders are conventionally seen as a function of either legislators’ ideological preferences or factors too idiosyncratic to permit systematic analysis. Analyzing six decades’ worth of information, Harris and Green find evidence for a new comprehensive model of vote choice in House leadership elections that incorporates both legislators’ goals and their connections with leadership candidates. This study will stand for years to come as the definitive treatment of a crucial aspect of American politics.

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