The constituency bases of legislative conflict : The Texas House of Representatives, 1961



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The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between the roll call voting behavior of Texas legislators and their constituencies as a means of gaining insight into the broader currents of opinion and ideology as they occur in a setting of social and political change. It is proposed here that, although factional division within the state's Democratic Party has been traditionally viewed as forming around a cluster of liberal-conservative issues, it is more helpful to differentiate between economic and racial views in assessing patterns of political opinion conflict. A variation of Guttman cumulative scale analysis performed on roll call responses of the Fifty-seventh Texas House of Representatives (1961 Regular Session) demonstrated a significant amount of overlap on racial and economic voting patterns. That is to say, the "liberal" in the legislature was not necessarily a friend of the cause of Negro civil rights, nor was the "conservative" always an adversary of the cause. By differentiating the dimensions of economically based factionalism and civil rights liberalism-conservatism, a legislative opinion typology is constructed which relates the patterns of expressed legislative opinion to more broadly conceived patterns of political tradition and change. By examining the constituency characteristics of the groups of legislative opinion types, the sources of opinion conflict are identified and tentative conclusions are offered concerning the nature and status of political change in the state. The findings suggest that there is occurring in various regions of the state a developmental sequence of opinion conflict and change which casts its imprint on statewide political patterns through representative institutions. A traditional Populist-Elite conflict pattern typifies the politics of rural Central, urban and rural East Texas. An ideological Elite-Coalition conflict pattern is more typical of urban Central Texas. Meanwhile, along the Rio Grande (particularly in urban areas), where Southern tradition has never been strong, a modernizing pattern is noted in that conflict occurs along economic lines while liberal and conservative alike share a consensus of racial accomodation with respect to the Negro citizen. This "modern" conflict pattern has been termed Coalition-Bourbon after the two dominant opinion types in these areas. Continued increasing urbanization, industrialization, minority concentration, and legislative reapportionment are several factors identified which augment the progression from "traditional" to "modern" patterns of conflict in the state.



Texas House of Representatives