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Shor, Berry and McCarty on estimating ideal points for state legislators

Abstract: Two major problems exist in applying ideal point estimation techniques to state legislatures. First, there has been a scarcity of available longitudinal roll call data. Second, even where such data exists, scaling ideal points within a single state su:ers from a basic defect. No comparisons can be made across institutions, whether to other state legislatures or to the US Congress. Our project is a solution to both of these problems. We use a new comparative data set of state legislative roll calls beginning in the mid-1990s to generate ideal points for legislators. We take advantage of the fact that state legislators sometimes go on to serve in Congress to create a common ideological scale between Congress and the various legislatures. These “bridge actors” are similar in concept to members of the House who go on to serve in the Senate, thereby providing the “glue” necessary to scale the House and Senate together. We use this approach for California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Using these bridge actors, we create a new state-federal congressional common space ideological scores. We conclude by using these common space scores to address important topics in legislative politics.

Boris Shor, Christopher Berry and Nolan McCarty (2007), “A Bridge to Somewhere: Mapping State and
Congressional Ideology on a Cross-Institutional Common Space,” unpublished paper. Available here. Via Statistical Modelling.

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