We examine an increasingly common political tactic: the self-binding pledge whereby lawmakers assure a constituency, social movement, or interest group that they will take a particular position on an upcoming vote or policy issue. An empirical analysis of novel data on the 2011 debt-limit crisis shows that pre-commitment by legislators to the Tea Party's "Cut, Cap, and Balance Pledge" was the joint product of grassroots pressure and ideological sympathy. Highly conser-vative early pledgers opposed fiscal compromise that fell short of the Tea Party's position, while a number of less conservative later signers reneged by voting for the Budget Control Act that resolved the debt-limit crisis. The case of the pledge sug-gests that social movements are well positioned to collaborate with true believing insiders to promote policy change but have difficulty persuading fence sitters to take their side.
Tea and Sympathy: The Tea Party Movement and Republican Precommitment to Radical Conservatism in the 2011 Debt-Limit Crisis
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Ion Vasi, David Strang, Arnout van de Rijt; Tea and Sympathy: The Tea Party Movement and Republican Precommitment to Radical Conservatism in the 2011 Debt-Limit Crisis. Mobilization: An International Quarterly 1 February 2014; 19 (1): 1–22. doi: https://doi.org/10.17813/maiq.19.1.w30q317v25r35603
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