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Award Abstract #0960991

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

NSF Org: SES
Divn Of Social and Economic Sciences
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Initial Amendment Date: September 28, 2010
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Latest Amendment Date: September 28, 2010
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Award Number: 0960991
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Brian D. Humes
SES Divn Of Social and Economic Sciences
SBE Direct For Social, Behav & Economic Scie
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Start Date: October 1, 2010
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End Date: September 30, 2014 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $251,525.00
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Investigator(s): Steven Smith smith@wustl.edu (Principal Investigator)
James Gibson (Co-Principal Investigator)
Chintan Turakhia (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: Washington University
CAMPUS BOX 1054
SAINT LOUIS, MO 63130-4899 (314)747-4134
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NSF Program(s): POLITICAL SCIENCE
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Program Reference Code(s): 0000, OTHR
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Program Element Code(s): 1371

ABSTRACT

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


PUBLICATIONS PRODUCED AS A RESULT OF THIS RESEARCH

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

BOOKS/ONE TIME PROCEEDING

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".

 

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