Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Attainability, Partisan Dysfunction, and the Changing Nature of Senate Leadership

Partisan dysfunction and an increasingly attainable majority in the United States Senate have changed the nature of party leadership in the upper chamber. This paper examines why, in contrast to the overall trend of a decreasing number of close Senate elections, party leaders are increasingly burdened by difficult, closely-contested reelection campaigns. I argue that party leaders' unique position in the battle for majority control has contributed to new electoral challenges. I contend that the polarization of the cloture process has furthered this trend. As leaders are expected by their co-partisans to take full advantage of Senate rules to advance their party's priorities, they have come to typify dysfunction in the Senate and now represent attractive targets for defeat by the other party. As a whole, the emergence of competitive elections has contributed to the overall dysfunction of the body as electoral goals outpace policymaking as the primary focus of leaders.