We confront the puzzle of why bipartisanship is alive and well in Congress, despite notable increases in party polarization and rising primary election threats. The answer is remarkably simple—bipartisanship unambiguously helps individual legislators who seek to advance their policy goals. We show that members of the House and Senate from the 93rd to 114th Congresses (1973–2016) who attract a larger portion of their bill cosponsors from the opposing party are much more successful at lawmaking. We show these patterns to be remarkably robust to both majority-party and minority-party lawmakers, under changing legislative and electoral conditions and over time. Moreover, a clear path to attracting bipartisan cosponsors involves reciprocity, making cosponsoring others’ bills across party lines attractive.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science