If Senators Had Two-Year Terms, How Would the Vote on the Infrastructure Bill Have Come Out?

In my recent NYT piece I noted how the unique and exceptionally short two-year term for members of the House, combined with the prospect of primary elections, dramatically shapes American politics.

In that light, it’s noteworthy how differently Republican Senators who are up for re-election in 2022 (and face primaries as well) voted on the recent infrastructure bill compared to Republican Senators who are not up for re-election in 2022. In a sense, those up for imminent election are effectively faced with a two-year term left on their service.

19 Republican Senators voted for the bill.

Of those up for 2022 primaries and re-election, only 20% voted for the bill (4 of 20).

Of those not up in 2022, 52% voted for the bill (15 of 29, since one R Senator did not vote).

Even if we subtract out the three retiring Senators who voted for the bill, it’s still the case that 46% of Republican Senators whose re-election is in 2024 or 2026 voted for the bill, compared to 20% of those up in 2022.

To be sure, the date of next election is a crude metric for explaining this divergence; there might have been any number of reasons Republican Senators voted for or against. Still, this divergence is so large it’s striking.

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