Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Representation in an Era of Political and Economic Inequality: How and When Citizen Engagement Matters

  • Jan E. Leighley and Jennifer Oser
Abstract

Does political participation make a difference for policy responsiveness, or is affluence what matters most? To examine whether participation beyond voting matters for policy representation, we analyze congruence between citizens’ policy preferences and their representatives’ roll call votes using data from the 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Study. For the main policy issue for which citizens’ political engagement beyond voting enhances congruence—namely, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010—we then investigate whether this effect holds when taking citizens’ income into account. The findings show that for the ACA, constituents’ participation beyond voting is associated with increased congruence with their representatives at all levels of income, and that those with less income who are politically active beyond voting experience the largest increase in congruence. However, our findings also show that the potential of political participation and income to enhance congruence is restricted to co-partisans, and to highly partisan and salient issues.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Representation in an Era of Political and Economic Inequality: How and When Citizen Engagement Matters
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Representation in an Era of Political and Economic Inequality: How and When Citizen Engagement Matters
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Representation in an Era of Political and Economic Inequality: How and When Citizen Engagement Matters
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
References
Hide All
Achen, Christopher H. and Bartels, Larry M.. 2016. Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Aldrich, John A., Sullivan, John L., and Borgida, Eugene. 1989. “Foreign Affairs and Issue Voting.” American Political Science Review 83(1): 123–41.
American Political Science Association. 1950. “Toward a More Responsible Two-Party System. A Report of the Committee on Political Parties.” American Political Science Review 44(3, Part 2): xi-99.
American Political Science Association. 2004. “American Democracy in an Age of Rising Inequality.” Task Force on Inequality and American Democracy. Perspectives on Politics 2(4): 651–66.
Ansolabehere, Stephen. 2013. Cooperative Congressional Election Study, 2012: Common Content [Computer File]. Harvard Dataverse v8: Jan 11, 2015. Retrieved data last downloaded on July 26, 2015. http://hdl.handle.net/1902.1/21447, file name “CCES12_Common_VV”.
Ansolabehere, Stephen and Hersh, Eitan. 2012. “Validation: What Big Data Reveal about Survey Misreporting and the Real Electorate.” Political Analysis 20(4): 437–59.
Ansolabehere, Stephen and Jones, Phillip E.. 2011. “Dyadic Representation.” In The Oxford Handbook of the American Congress, ed. Edwards, George C., Lee, Frances E., and Schickler, Eric. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ansolabehere, Stephen and Rivers, Douglas. 2013. “Cooperative Survey Research.” Annual Review of Political Science 16(1): 307–29.
Ansolabehere, Stephen and Schaffner, Brian. 2013. Guide to the 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Survey, Data Release No. 1: Harvard Dataverse: June 25, 2015 upload. Retrieved file last downloaded on July 23, 2015. http://hdl.handle.net/1902.1/21447.
Ansolabehere, Stephen, Snyder, James M., and Stewart, Charles. 2001. “Candidate Positioning in U.S. House Elections.” American Journal of Political Science 45(1): 136–59.
Anzia, Sarah F. 2014. Timing and Turnout: How Off-Cycle Elections Favor Organized Groups. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Bafumi, Joseph and Herron, Michael C.. 2010. “Leapfrog Representation and Extremism: A Study of American Voters and Their Members in Congress.” American Political Science Review 104(3): 519–42.
Barabas, Jason. 2016. “Democracy’s Denominator: Reassessing Responsiveness with Public Opinion on the National Policy Agenda.” Public Opinion Quarterly 80(2): 437–59.
Barber, Michael J. 2016. “Representing the Preferences of Voters, Partisans, and Voters in the US Senate.” Public Opinion Quarterly 80(S1): 225–49.
Bartels, Larry M. 2009. “Economic Inequality and Political Representation.” In The Unsustainable American State, ed. Jacobs, L. and King, D.. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Bartels, Larry M. 2016. Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age. 2nd ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Bateson, Regina. 2012. “Crime Victimization and Political Participation.” American Political Science Review 106:3, 570587.
Berinsky, Adam J. and Margolis, Michele. 2011. “Missing Voices: Polling and Health Care.” Journal of Health Politics, Policy & Law 36(6): 975–87.
Bhatti, Yosef and Erikson, Robert S.. 2011. “How Poorly Are the Poor Represented in the US Senate?” In Who Gets Represented? ed. Enns, Peter K. and Wlezien, C.. New York: Russell Sage.
Blais, Andre. 2000. To Vote or Not to Vote? The Merits and Limits of Rational Choice Theory. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.
Bowler, Shaun, Donovan, Todd, and Hanneman, Robert. 2003. “Art for Democracy’s Sake? Group Membership and Political Engagement in Europe.” Journal of Politics 65(4): 1111–29.
Branham, J. Alexander, Soroka, Stuart N., and Wlezien, Christopher. 2017. “When Do the Rich Win?” Political Science Quarterly 132(1): 4362.
Broockman, David E. 2014. “Distorted Communication, Unequal Representation: Constituents Communicate Less to Representatives Not of Their Race.” American Journal of Political Science 58(2): 307–21.
Canes-Wrone, Brandice. 2015. “From Mass Preferences to Policy.” Annual Review of Political Science 18: 1.
Corman, Juliane and Levin, David. 2016. “Support for Government Provision of Health Care and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Public Opinion Quarterly 80(1): 114–79.
Cuevas-Molina, Ivelisse. 2015. Cooperative Congressional Election Study Supplementary Data: US House Roll Call Votes Codebook. Stephen Ansolabehere, PI, and Brian Schaffner, Co-PI.
Dahl, Robert Alan. 1989. Democracy and Its Critics. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Dalton, Russell J. 2008. “Citizenship Norms and the Expansion of Political Participation.” Political Studies 56(1): 7698.
Ellis, Christopher. 2012. “Understanding Economic Biases and Representation: Income, Resources, and Policy Representation in the 110th House.” Political Research Quarterly 65(4): 938–51.
Enns, Peter K. 2015a. “Relative Policy Support and Coincidental Representation.” Perspectives on Politics 13(4): 1053–64.
Enns, Peter K. 2015b. “Reconsidering the Middle: A Reply to Gilens.” Perspectives on Politics 13(4): 1072–74.
Erikson, Robert S. 2015. “Income Inequality and Policy Responsiveness.” Annual Review of Political Science 18(1): 1129.
Finkel, Steven E. 2002. “Civic Education and the Mobilization of Political Participation in Developing Democracies.” Journal of Politics 64(4): 9941020.
Franklin, Mark. 2004. Voter Turnout and the Dynamics of Electoral Competition in Established Democracies since 1945. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Franko, W. W., Kelly, Nathan, and Witko, Christopher. 2016. “Class Bias in Voter Turnout, Representation, and Income Inequality.” Perspectives on Politics 14(2): 351–68.
Gilens, Martin. 2009. “Preference Gaps and Inequality in Representation.” PS: Political Science & Politics 42(2): 335–41.
Gilens, Martin. 2012. Affluence and Influence. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Gilens, Martin and Page, Benjamin I.. 2014. “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens.” Perspectives on Politics 12(3): 564–81.
Gillion, Daniel Q. 2012. “Protest and Congressional Behavior: Assessing Racial and Ethnic Minority Protests in the District.” Journal of Politics 74(4): 950–62.
Griffin, John D. and Newman, Brian. 2005. “Are Voters Better Represented?” Journal of Politics 67(4): 1206–27.
Griffin, John D. and Newman, Brian. 2013. “Voting Power, Policy Representation, and Disparities in Voting’s Rewards. Journal of Politics 75(1): 5264.
Grimmer, Justin. 2013. “Appropriators not Position Takers: The Distorting Effects of Electoral Incentives on Congressional Representation.” American Journal of Political Science 57(3): 624–42.
Hacker, Jacob S. 2010. “The Road to Somewhere: Why Health Reform Happened: Or Why Political Scientists Who Write about Public Policy Shouldn’t Assume They Know How to Shape It.” Perspectives on Politics 8(3): 861–76.
Hacker, Jacob S. and Pierson, Paul. 2010. Winner Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer—and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class. New York: Simon and Shuster.
Han, Hahrie. 2016. “The Organizational Roots of Political Activism: Field Experiments on Creating a Relational Context.” American Political Science Review 110(2): 296307.
Henderson, Michael and Sunshine Hillygus, D.. 2011. “The Dynamics of Health Care Opinion, 2008–2010: Partisanship, Self-Interest, and Racial Resentment.” Journal of Health Politics, Policy & Law 36(6): 945–60.
Hicks, Alexander M. and Swank, Duane H.. 1992. “Politics, Institutions, and Welfare Spending in Industrialized Democracies, 1960–1982.” American Political Science Review 86(3): 658–74.
Hill, Kim Quaile and Hurley, Patricia A.. 1999. “Dyadic Representation Reappraised.” American Journal of Political Science 43(1): 109–37.
Hill, Kim Quaile, Jordan, Soren, and Hurley, Patricia A.. 2015. Representation in Congress: A Unified Theory. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hill, Kim Quaile and Leighley, Jan E.. 1992. “The Policy Consequences of Class Bias in State Electorates.” American Journal of Political Science 36(2): 351–65.
Hill, Kim Quaile, Leighley, Jan E., and Hinton-Andersson, Angela A.. 1995. “Lower-class Mobilization and Policy Linkage in the U.S. States.” American Journal of Political Science 39(1): 7586.
Hooghe, Marc and Oser, Jennifer. 2016. “Trade Union Density and Social Expenditure: A Longitudinal Analysis of Policy Feedback Effects in OECD Countries, 1980–2010.” Journal of European Public Policy 23(10): 1520–42.
Htun, Mala and Laurel Weldon, S.. 2010. “When Do Governments Promote Women’s Rights? A Framework for the Comparative Analysis of Sex Equality Policy.” Perspectives on Politics 8(1): 207–16.
Hurwitz, Jon and Peffley, Mark. 1987. “How Are Foreign Policy Attitudes Structured? A Hierarchical Model. American Political Science Review 81(4): 1099–120.
Jacobs, Lawrence R. 2010. “What Health Reform Teaches Us about American Politics.” PS: Political Science and Politics 43(4): 619–23.
Jacobs, Lawrence R. and Page, Benjamin I.. 2005. “Who Influences US Foreign Policy?” American Political Science Review 99(1): 107–23.
Jacobs, Lawrence and Skocpol, Theda. 2015. Health Care Reform and American Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Jacobson, Gary C. 2003. “Partisan Polarization in Presidential Support: The Electoral Connection.” Congress & the Presidency 30(1): 136.
Jentleson, Bruce W. 1992. “The Pretty Prudent Public: Post Post-Vietnam American Public Opinion on the Use of Military Force.” International Studies Quarterly 36: 4973.
Kostadinova, Tatiana and Power, Timothy J.. 2007. “Does Democratization Depress Participation? Voter Turnout in the Latin American and Eastern European Transitional Democracies.” Political Research Quarterly 60(3): 363–77.
Lax, Jeffrey R. and Phillips, Justin H.. 2009. “Gay Rights in the States: Public Opinion and Policy Responsiveness.” American Political Science Review 103(3): 367–86.
Lax, Jeffrey R. and Phillips, Justin H.. 2012. “The Democratic Deficit in the States.” American Journal of Political Science 56(1): 148–66.
Leighley, Jan E. 1995. “Attitudes, Opportunities and Incentives: A Review Essay on Political Participation.” Political Research Quarterly 48: 181209.
Leighley, Jan E. and Nagler, Jonathan. 2014. Who Votes Now? Demographics, Issues, Inequality, and Turnout in the United States. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Lijphart, Arend. 1997. “Unequal Participation: Democracy’s Unresolved Dilemma.” American Political Science Review 91(1): 114.
Mahler, Vincent A. 2008. “Electoral Turnout and Income Redistribution by the State: A Cross-National Analysis of the Developed Democracies.” European Journal of Political Research 47(2): 161–83.
Martin, Paul S. 2003. “Voting’s Rewards: Voter Turnout, Attentive Publics, and Congressional Allocation of Federal Money.” American Journal of Political Science 47(1): 110–27.
Martin, Paul. S. and Claibourn, Michelle P.. 2013. “Citizen Participation and Congressional Responsiveness: New Evidence that Participation Matters.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 38(1): 5981.
Mayhew, David. 2004 [1974]. Congress: The Electoral Connection, 2nd ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Miler, Kristina C. 2010. Constituency Representation in Congress: The View from Capitol Hill. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Milkis, Sidney M., Rhodes, Jesse H., and Charnock, Emily J.. 2012. “What Happened to Post-Partisanship? Barack Obama and the New American Party System.” Perspectives on Politics 10(1): 5776.
Miller, Warren E. and Stokes, Donald E.. 1963. “Constituency Influence in Congress.” American Political Science Review 57(1): 4556.
Oser, Jennifer. 2017. “Assessing How Participators Combine Acts in their ‘Political Tool Kits’: A Person-Centered Measurement Approach for Analyzing Citizen Participation.” Social Indicators Research: 124. Advanced online publication. doi: 10.1007/s11205-016-1364-8.
Oser, Jennifer, Leighley, Jan E., and Winneg, Kenneth M.. 2014. “Participation, Online and Otherwise: What’s the Difference for Policy Preferences?” Social Science Quarterly 95(5): 1259–77.
Page, Benjamin I., Bartels, Larry M., and Seawright, Jason. 2013. “Democracy and the Policy Preferences of Wealthy Americans.” Perspectives on Politics 11(1): 5173.
Pateman, Carole. 2012. “Participatory Democracy Revisited.” Perspectives on Politics 10(1): 719.
Powell, G. Bingham. 2004. “The Chain of Responsiveness.” Journal of Democracy 15(4): 91105.
Rocca, Michael S. and Gordon, Stacy B.. 2012. “Earmarks as Means and an End: The Link between Earmarks and Campaign Contributions in the U.S. House of Representatives.” Journal of Politics 75(1): 241–53.
Schlozman, Kay Lehman. 2002. “Citizen Participation in America: What Do We Know? Why Do We Care?” In Political Science: The State of the Discipline, ed. Katznelson, I. and Milner, H. V.. New York: Norton.
Schlozman, Kay Lehman, Verba, Sidney, and Brady, Henry E.. 2012. The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Shapiro, Robert Y. 2011. “Public Opinion and American Democracy.” Public Opinion Quarterly 75(5): 9821017.
Skocpol, Theda. 2004. “Voice and Inequality: The Transformation of American Civic Democracy.” Perspectives on Politics 2(1): 320.
Soroka, Stuart N. and Wlezien, Christopher. 2008. “On the Limits to Inequality in Representation.” PS: Political Science & Politics 41(2): 319–27.
Soroka, Stuart N. and Wlezien, Christopher. 2010. Degrees of Democracy: Politics, Public Opinion, and Policy. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Tavits, Margit. 2009. “Direct Presidential Elections and Turnout in Parliamentary Contests.” Political Research Quarterly 62(1): 4254.
Tesler, Michael. 2012. “The Spillover of Racialization into Health Care: How President Obama Polarized Public Opinion by Racial Attitudes and Race.” American Journal of Political Science 56(3): 690704.
Verba, Sidney. 2003. “Would the Dream of Political Equality Turn Out to Be a Nightmare?” Perspectives on Politics 1(4): 663–79.
Verba, Sidney, Nie, Norman H., and Kim, Jae-On. 1978. Participation and Political Equality: A Seven Nation Comparison. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Verba, Sidney, Schlozman, Kay L., and Brady, Henry. 1995. Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism in American Politics. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Wlezien, Christopher. 2004. “Patterns of Representation: Dynamics of Public Preferences and Policy.” Journal of Politics 66(1): 124.
Wolfinger, Raymond E. and Rosenstone, Steven J.. 1980. Who Votes? New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Perspectives on Politics
  • ISSN: 1537-5927
  • EISSN: 1541-0986
  • URL: /core/journals/perspectives-on-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
WORD
Supplementary materials

Leighley and Oser supplementary material
Online Appendix

 Word (51 KB)
51 KB
UNKNOWN
Supplementary materials

Leighley and Oser supplementary material
Leighley and Oser supplementary material 1

 Unknown (30 KB)
30 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed