Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Political Science

Document Type



This paper expands upon previous research that analyzed the tactics minority party members of Congress use to get their policies considered or oppose the majority party agenda. The paper evaluates various minority party strategies and their effectiveness. Effectiveness of a strategy is defined by the success of the minority party in achieving its legislative goals after implementing a tactic (i.e. a majority party sponsored bill not receiving enough votes to pass the chamber). I analyze persuasion, compromise, and obstruction as three strategies minority party members use. Minority party members employ obstruction when they take steps to block the movement of majority party bills through the legislative process. In contrast, minority party members compromise when they work with members of the majority party to develop legislation using various mechanisms such as cosponsorship. Lastly, minority party members persuade when they convince legislators in the majority to do something they would have not originally considered. I also analyze the impacts of various factors from seniority to ideology on a legislator’s ability to employ these strategies successfully. This paper takes into account modern political polarization that has created new conditions for the minority party to navigate and fewer opportunities for compromise on substantial issues. The data analysis provides insight into the characteristics that are associated with more effective legislators and attempts to explain those results. This paper offers a new perspective on the way minority party members as a unit can represent the interests of their constituents and the most effective ways to ensure their concerns are addressed as legislation moves throughout the chamber.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Jeffrey Budziak, Dr. Scott Lasley, Mrs. Siera Bramschreiber


Political Science