Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-swr86 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-16T13:48:05.288Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Do constituents know (or care) about the lawmaking effectiveness of their representatives?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 December 2021

Daniel M. Butler*
Affiliation:
Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Adam G. Hughes
Affiliation:
Computational Social Scientist, Seattle, Washington, USA
Craig Volden
Affiliation:
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Alan E. Wiseman
Affiliation:
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
*
*Corresponding author. Email: volden@virginia.edu

Abstract

Substantial evidence exists that members of the US Congress vary in their lawmaking effectiveness. Less known, however, is whether constituents are sufficiently informed and inclined to hold their representatives accountable, based on their effectiveness. We conduct two separate survey experiments, informing some constituents about lawmakers' effectiveness and comparing their responses to those with the baseline level of information. We find that voters demonstrate little knowledge of their elected officials' lawmaking effectiveness. When presented with objective and credible information about lawmaking effectiveness, however, respondents express greater approval of more effective lawmakers. Effects are strongest among ideological moderates, but are even pronounced among partisans, who approve of effective representatives of the opposing party, and disapprove of ineffective representatives from their own party.

Type
Research Note
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the European Political Science Association

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Anderson, SE and Harbridge, L (2014) The policy consequences of motivated information processing among the partisan elite. American Politics Research 42, 700728.Google Scholar
Ansolabehere, S and Rivers, D (2013) Cooperative survey research. Annual Review of Political Science 16, 307329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ashton, HB and Munis, BK (2021) Information valence and evaluations of congress and individual legislators: experimental evidence regarding negativity bias in politics. Legislative Studies Quarterly 46, 525558.Google Scholar
Boydstun, AE, Ledgerwood, A and Sparks, J (2019) A negativity bias in reframing shapes political preferences even in partisan contexts. Social Psychological and Personality Science 10, 5361.Google Scholar
de Quidt, J, Haushofer, J and Roth, C (2018) Measuring and bounding experimenter demand. American Economic Review 108, 32663302.Google Scholar
Fenno, RF Jr (1978) Home Style: House Members in Their Districts. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.Google Scholar
Harbridge, L and Malhotra, N (2011) Electoral incentives and partisan conflict in congress: evidence from survey experiments. American Journal of Political Science 55, 494510.Google Scholar
Lodge, M and Taber, CS (2013) The Rationalizing Voter. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Lupia, A (2015) Uninformed: Why People Seem to Know So Little About Politics and What We Can Do About It. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Mayhew, DR (1974) Congress: The Electoral Connection. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Mummolo, J and Peterson, E (2019) Demand effects in survey experiments: an empirical assessment. American Political Science Review 113, 517529.Google Scholar
Soroka, SN (2014) Negativity in Democratic Politics: Causes and Consequences. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Sulkin, T, Testa, P and Usry, K (2015) What gets rewarded? Legislative activity and constituency approval. Political Research Quarterly 68, 690702.Google Scholar
Tal, A and Wansink, B (2016) Blinded with science: trivial graphs and formulas increase ad persuasiveness and belief in product efficacy. Public Understanding of Science 25, 117125.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Volden, C and Wiseman, AE (2014) Legislative Effectiveness in the United States Congress: The Lawmakers. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Supplementary material: Link

Butler et al. Dataset

Link
Supplementary material: PDF

Butler et al. supplementary material

Butler et al. supplementary material

Download Butler et al. supplementary material(PDF)
PDF 1.5 MB