Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Schraufnagel, Scot

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


Congressional scholars have long debated what factors influence legislative productivity. Mayhew argues that “landmark enactments” are more likely to occur under divided-party control of government, while Binder takes exception to this contention by incorporating legislative demand and different types of divided-party governments. Dodd and Schraufnagel argue that topical legislative productivity is the best measure of legislative competence and quasi-divided government is especially counterproductive, when accounting for polarization. This research incorporates all of these factors: divided government, legislative demand, and polarization; however, my interest is more about the imperial presidency thesis, which argues that presidents have become too powerful relative to Congress, especially since the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration. In studying legislative productivity, I argue it is essential for scholars to account for presidential action and, more specifically, the bully pulpit as measured by mentions in annual State of the Union addresses. In the end, I find that if the president mentions a topic in the State of the Union, it increases the probability of a new topical public law passing. I also examine the partisanship of presidents as well as the different time periods. I show that Democratic presidents associate with more topical legislative productivity, and consistent with the imperial presidency thesis, the effect of the bully pulpit on legislative productivity has been increasing during the time period studied.


47 pages




Northern Illinois University

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