text-only page produced automatically by Usablenet Assistive Skip all navigation and go to page content Skip top navigation and go to directorate navigation Skip top navigation and go to page navigation
National Science Foundation
design element
Search Awards
Recent Awards
Presidential and Honorary Awards
About Awards
Grant Policy Manual
Grant General Conditions
Cooperative Agreement Conditions
Special Conditions
Federal Demonstration Partnership
Policy Office Website

Award Abstract #0960991

Majority Rule and Minority Rights: A Panel Study of Democratic Values and Attitudes toward the Senate Filibuster Among the American Public

Divn Of Social and Economic Sciences
divider line
Initial Amendment Date: September 28, 2010
divider line
Latest Amendment Date: September 28, 2010
divider line
Award Number: 0960991
divider line
Award Instrument: Standard Grant
divider line
Program Manager: Brian D. Humes
SES Divn Of Social and Economic Sciences
SBE Direct For Social, Behav & Economic Scie
divider line
Start Date: October 1, 2010
divider line
End Date: September 30, 2014 (Estimated)
divider line
Awarded Amount to Date: $251,525.00
divider line
Investigator(s): Steven Smith smith@wustl.edu (Principal Investigator)
James Gibson (Co-Principal Investigator)
Chintan Turakhia (Co-Principal Investigator)
divider line
Sponsor: Washington University
SAINT LOUIS, MO 63130-4899 (314)747-4134
divider line
divider line
Program Reference Code(s): 0000, OTHR
divider line
Program Element Code(s): 1371


Majority rule and minority rights are important values in a democracy. The balance between them, often reflected in the size of the majority required for a decision, is a central issue in the making of constitutions, motivates the design of key features of legislative institutions and parliamentary rules, and regularly figures in cases before courts. Unfortunately, the social sciences have very limited understanding of how the public weighs majority rule and minority rights.

This research examines public attitudes about majority rule and minority rights in the United States. It does so by focusing on public views about prominent legislative battles involving the Senate filibuster - extended debate intended to prevent a vote. The Senate's cloture rule provides that a three-fifths majority of elected senators is required to close debate and move to a vote on a motion, a rule that allows a large minority to prevent majority action. This study exploits an existing survey panel to assess the public's views of majority rule and minority rights both in the abstract and in response to major legislative episodes. The study examines the effect of abstract views of majority rule, minority rights, and the filibuster, policy preferences, party preferences and other factors such as political sophistication and education on evaluations of legislative outcomes involving the filibuster.

This research engages several students as research assistants, which will create an opportunity for the students to become more deeply involved in survey research, attend professional meetings, and collaborate in writing research reports. The findings will be reflected in on the investigator's textbook on congressional politics, which is one of the most widely-read textbooks by undergraduates on the subject. The investigators are frequent speakers before civic and academic groups, frequent guests on radio and television programs, and frequent consultants to legislatures, all of which are forums in which the public's understanding of majority rule, minority rights, and congressional procedure is frequently an issue. By working with the Weidenbaum Center, the research findings will be incorporated in non-technical publications and distributed to a large general audience


Note:  When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

Steven S. Smith and Hong Min Park. "Americans' Attitudes About the Senate Filibuster," American Political Research, v.41, 2013, p. 735.


Smith , Steven. "The Senate Syndrome (book chapter entitled, Malleable Public Attitudes about the Filibuster)", 10/01/2010-09/30/2011,  2012, "Chapter entitled, Malleable Public Attitudes about the Filibuster".

Smith , Steven. "The Senate Syndrome (book chapter entitled, Malleable Public Attitudes about the Filibuster)", 10/01/2011-09/30/2012,  2012, "Chapter entitled, Malleable Public Attitudes about the Filibuster".


Please report errors in award information by writing to: awardsearch@nsf.gov.



Print this page
Back to Top of page
Research.gov  |  USA.gov  |  National Science Board  |  Recovery Act  |  Budget and Performance  |  Annual Financial Report
Web Policies and Important Links  |  Privacy  |  FOIA  |  NO FEAR Act  |  Inspector General  |  Webmaster Contact  |  Site Map
National Science Foundation Logo
The National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia 22230, USA
Tel: (703) 292-5111, FIRS: (800) 877-8339 | TDD: (800) 281-8749
  Text Only Version