TITLE: Does Partisan Polarization Lead to Policy Gridlock in California

AUTHOR: Thad Kousser

PAGES: 31     DATE: June 2008

ABSTRACT: Has the recent increase in partisan polarization among California's legislators led to a rise in government gridlock. This research presents a new measure of gridlock by tracking the legislative fate of the major policy issues before California's legislature in the first year of every gubernatorial term from 1931 until 2004. I find no direct link between polarization and gridlock. The main cause of gridlock appears to be divided government: When control of the governorship and legislature is divided between the two parties, fewer major issues are resolved. The effect of divided government on gridlock appears to be larger when polarization is high, providing a potential indirect avenue through which polarization may pose an obstacle to lawmaking in California.

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