The legislative impact of divided government Academic Article uri icon


  • Theory: The best test of the impact of divided government on legislative gridlock is to examine seriously considered, potentially important legislation that failed to pass under conditions of divided and unified government. To do so requires separate analyses of legislation the president opposes and supports. Hypotheses: Divided government will be associated with the president opposing more legislation and with more legislation the president opposes failing to pass. It will not be associated with the president supporting less legislation or with more legislation the president supports failing to pass. Important legislation is more likely to fail to pass under divided government. Methods: We used regression analysis of the failure of legislation to pass and the relative success of legislation over the 1947-92 period. Results: Presidents oppose significant legislation more often under divided government, and much more important legislation fails to pass under divided government than under unified government. Furthermore, the odds of important legislation failing to pass are considerably greater under divided government. However, there seems to be no relationship between divided government and the amount of significant legislation the administration supports or that passes.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Edwards, G. C., Barrett, A., & Peake, J.

complete list of authors

  • Edwards, GC||Barrett, A||Peake, J

publication date

  • April 1997