Presented at the 2013 Political Networks Conference, Bloomington, IN


Congress has been increasingly criticized as a broken, gridlocked, polarized, ineffective institution. In this paper we seek to explore the consequences of polarization and whether legislators take steps to alleviate them. We hypothesize that participation in the voluntary, bipartisan, caucus system provides opportunities for legislators to build cross-partisan relationships and profit from shared information, which can alleviate some of the negative effects of polarization. We operationalize polarization using dyadic covoting and show that legislators are more likely to covote if they share more caucus connections, controlling for a variety of factors that predict voting. The data in this analysis spans 9 congresses (1993-2010) and includes multiple connections between legislators.