Union University

Union University Department of Political Science

Department of Political Science


Evans Presents Paper on Senate Strategic Retirement

Apr 8, 2011

Sean Evans, Associate Professor of Political Science, presented a paper entitled "Strategic Retirement from the U.S. Senate, 1945-2010" at the Midwest Political Science Association recently. This paper paper continues work on strategic retirement from the U.S. Senate by expanding previous models of retirement and assessing the impact of partisanship. First, our model of retirement expands on Bernstein and Wolak (2002) by finding that strategic variables like scandal, appointment, and electoral vulnerability explain retirement in addition to personal and institutional characteristics. Second, we break down the sixty-five year time period into periods of stable, rising, and extreme partisanship to find differences in these periods. For the entire and stable partisan periods, we find that that age, appointment, and ideological extremism explain retirement. During the rising partisan periods, we find that appointment, age scandal, minority party, and Southern Democrat explain retirement. During the extreme partisan period, we find that appointment, scandal, minority party, ideological extremism, and electoral vulnerability explain retirement. We conclude with a discussion of the importance of institutional environment and context on the satisfaction of serving in the institution and how the environment makes the Senate more responsive to the public than previously understood.