Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Ideology and the US Congressional Vote*

  • Boris Shor and Jon C. Rogowski
Abstract

A large class of theoretical models posits that voters choose candidates on the basis of issue congruence, but convincing empirical tests of this key claim remain elusive. The most persistent difficulty is obtaining comparable spatial estimates for winning and losing candidates, as well as voters. We address these issues using candidate surveys to characterize the electoral platforms for winners and losers, and large issue batteries in 2008 and 2010 to estimate voter preferences. Questions that were answered by both candidates and citizens allow us to jointly scale these estimates. We find robust evidence that vote choice in congressional elections is both strongly associated with spatial proximity and that individual-level and contextual variables commonly associated with congressional voting behavior condition the magnitude of its importance. Our results have important implications for theories of voter decision-making and electoral institutions.

Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All
*

Boris Shor, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, The University of Houston, 3551 Cullen Boulevard Room 447, Houston, TX 77204-3011 (boris@bshor.com). Jon C. Rogowski, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis, One Brookings Drive, Campus Box 1063, St. Louis, MO 63130 (jrogowski@wustl.edu). The candidate survey data in this paper relies on the hard work of Chad Levinson, while roll call data was assembled in a major collaboration with Nolan McCarty, and assisted by Steven Rogers and Michelle Anderson. The authors thank Josh Clinton and Keith Krehbiel for comments on previous versions of this manuscript, and Andrew Gelman, David Park, Gerald Wright, Rob Van Houweling, Will Howell, Stephen Jessee, Michael Bailey, and seminar participants at Princeton, Stanford, UNC, Rochester, and Chicago for helpful discussions about earlier ideas. The authors thank Project Vote Smart for making their data available to them. The authors thank Adam Bonica, Garry Hollibaugh, Lawrence Rothenberg, and Kristin Rulison for providing their candidate data to the authors for comparison. The authors thank Simon Jackman for his invaluable software and assistance. The authors thank anonymous reviewers and to the editors and staff at PSRM for their many helpful suggestions. Funding for the 2008 survey was generously provided by the University of Chicago Harris School. The authors welcome comments and questions. Any errors are the authors own. To view supplementary material for this article, please visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/psrm.2016.23

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Achen, Christopher. 1975. ‘Mass Political Attitudes and the Survey Response’. American Political Science Review 69:12181223.
Adams, James. 2001. Party Competition and Responsible Party Government: A Theory of Spatial Competition Based Upon Insights from Behavioral Voting Research. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
Adams, James, Merrill, Samuel, and Grofman, Bernard. 2005. A Unified Theory of Party Competition: A Cross-National Analysis Integrating Spatial and Behavioral Factors. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Adams, James, Merrill III, Samuel, Simas, Elizabeth N., and Stone, Walter J.. 2011. ‘When Candidates Value Good Character: A Spatial Model With Applications to Congressional Elections’. Journal of Politics 73(1):1730.
Adams, James, Clark, Michael, Ezrow, Lawrence, and Glasgow, Garrett. 2004. ‘Understanding Change and Stability in Party Ideologies: Do Parties Respond to Public Opinion or to Past Election Results?’. British Journal of Political Science 34:589610.
Aldrich, John H., and McKelvey, Richard D.. 1977. ‘A Method of Scaling With Applications to the 1968 and 1972 Presidential Elections’. American Political Science Review 71:111130.
Alvarez, R. Michael, and Nagler, Jonathan. 1995. ‘Economics, Issues, and the Perot Candidacy: Voter Choice in the 1992 Election’. American Journal of Political Science 39:714744.
Ansolabehere, Stephen, Rodden, Jonathan, and Snyder, James. 2008. ‘The Strength of Issues: Using Multiple Measures to Gauge Preference Stability, Ideological Constraint, and Issue Voting’. American Political Science Review 102(2):215232.
Ansolabehere, Stephen, Snyder, James, and Stewart, Charles. 2001a. ‘Candidate Positioning in U.S. House Elections’. American Journal of Political Science 45(1):136159.
Ansolabehere, Stephen, Snyder, James, and Stewart, Charles. 2001b. ‘The Effects of Party and Preferences on Congressional Roll-Call Voting’. Legislative Studies Quarterly 26(4):533572.
Ansolabehere, Stephen, Snyder, James M. Jr., and Stewart, Charles III. 2000. ‘Old Voters, New Voters, and the Personal Vote: Using Redistricting to Measure the Incumbency Advantage’. American Journal of Political Science 44:1734.
Ansolabehere, Stephen, and Jones, Philip E.. 2010. ‘Constituents Responses to Congressional Roll-Call Voting’. American Journal of Political Science 54(3):583597.
Austen-Smith, David, and Banks, Jeffrey S.. 1988. ‘Elections, Coalitions and Legislative Outcomes’. American Political Science Review 82(2):405422.
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):519542.
Battista, James C., and Richman, Jesse. 2011. ‘Party Pressure in the US State Legislatures’. Legislative Studies Quarterly 36(3):397422.
Benoit, Kenneth, Laver, Michael, and Mikhaylov, Slava. 2009. ‘Treating Words as Data With Error: Uncertainty in Text Statements of Policy Positions’. American Journal of Political Science 53(2):495513.
Berelson, Bernard R., Lazarsfeld, Paul F., and McPhee, William N.. 1954. Voting: A Study of Opinion Formation in a Presidential Election. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Bonica, Adam. 2013. ‘Ideology and Interests in the Political Marketplace’. American Journal of Political Science 57:294311.
Brady, David W., Han, Hahrie, and Pope, Jeremy C.. 2007. ‘Primary Elections and Candidate Ideology: Out of Step With the Primary Electorate?’. Legislative Studies Quarterly 32(1):79105.
Brady, Henry E. 1985. ‘The Perils of Survey Research: Inter-Personally Incomparable Responses’. Political Methodology 11:269291.
Burden, Barry C. 2004. ‘Candidate Positioning in U.S. Congressional Elections’. British Journal of Political Science 34:211227.
Buttice, Matthew K., and Stone, Walter J.. 2012. ‘Candidates Matter: Policy and Quality Differences in Congressional Elections’. Journal of Politics 74(3):870887.
Campbell, Angus, Converse, Philip E., Miller, Warren E., and Stokes, Donald E.. 1960. The American Voter. New York: Wiley.
Canes-Wrone, Brandice, Brady, David W., and Cogan, John F.. 2002. ‘Out of Step, Out of Office: Electoral Accountability and House Members’ Voting’. American Political Science Review 96(1):127140.
Clinton, Joshua, Jackman, Simon, and Rivers, Douglas. 2004. ‘The Statistical Analysis of Roll Call Data’. American Political Science Review 98:355370.
Clinton, Joshua D. 2006. ‘Representation in Congress: Constituents and Roll Calls in the 106th House’. The Journal of Politics 68(2):397409.
Clinton, Joshua D. 2007. ‘Lawmaking and Roll Calls’. Journal of Politics 69:457469.
Coleman, John J., and Manna, Paul F.. 2000. ‘Congressional Campaign Spending and the Quality of Democracy’. Journal of Politics 62(3):757789.
Coleman, John J. 2001. ‘The Distribution of Campaign Spending Benefits Across Groups’. Journal of Politics 63:916936.
Conover, Pamela J., and Feldman, Stanley. 1982. ‘Projection and the Perceptions of Candidates’ Issue Positions’. Western Political Quarterly 35:228244.
Converse, Phillip E. 1964. ‘The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics’. In David E. Apter (ed.), Ideology and Discontent, 206261. New York: Free Press.
Cover, Albert D. 1977. ‘One Good Term Deserves Another: The Advantage of Incumbency in Congressional Elections’. American Journal of Political Science 21:523541.
Cox, Gary W., and Katz, Jonathan N.. 1996. ‘Why Did the Incumbency Advantage in US House Elections Grow?’. American Journal of Political Science 40:478497.
Dalager, Jon K. 1996. ‘Voters, Issues, and Elections: Are the Candidates’ Messages Getting Through?’. Journal of Politics 58:486515.
Downs, Anthony. 1957. An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York: Harper and Row.
Enelow, James M., and Hinich, Melvin J.. 1984. The Spatial Theory of Voting: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Erikson, Robert S. 1971. ‘The Advantage of Incumbency in Congressional Elections’. Polity 3(3):395405.
Erikson, Robert S., and Romero, D.. 1990. ‘Candidate Equilibrium and the Behavioral Model of the Vote’. The American Political Science Review 84:11031126.
Ezrow, Lawrence. 2007. ‘The Variance Matters: How Party Systems Represent the Preferences of Voters’. Journal of Politics 69:182292.
Gerber, Alan. 1998. ‘Estimating the Effect of Campaign Spending on Senate Election Outcomes Using Instrumental Variables’. American Political Science Review 92(2):401411.
Gerber, Elisabeth R., and Lewis, Jeffrey B.. 2004. ‘Beyond the Median: Voter Preferences, District Heterogeneity, and Political Representation’. Journal of Political Economy 112:13641383.
Green, Donald, and Krasno, Jonathan. 1988. ‘Salvation for the Spendthrift Incumbent: Reestimating the Effects of Campaign Spending in House Elections’. American Journal of Political Science 32(4):884907.
Groseclose, Timothy. 2001. ‘A Model of Candidate Location When One Candidate has a Valence Advantage’. American Journal of Political Science 45:862886.
Hollibaugh, Gary E., Rothenberg, Lawrence S., and Rulison, Kristin K.. 2013. ‘Does It Really Hurt to Be Out of Step?’. Political Research Quarterly 66:856867.
Hurley, Patricia A., and Hill, Kim Q.. 1980. ‘The Prospects for Issue-Voting in Contemporary Congressional Elections an Assessment of Citizen Awareness and Representation’. American Politics Research 8(4):425448.
Jackman, Simon. 2000. ‘Estimation and Inference are Missing Data Problems: Unifying Social Science Statistics Via Bayesian Simulation’. Political Analysis 8:307332.
Jackman, Simon. 2004. ‘Bayesian Analysis for Political Research’. Annual Review of Political Science 7:483505.
Jackman, Simon. 2015. pscl: Classes and Methods for R Developed in the Political Science Computational Laboratory. Department of Political Science, Stanford University, Stanford, California. R package version 1.4.9. http://pscl.stanford.edu/.
Jackman, Simon, and Vavreck, Lynn. 2010. ‘Primary Politics: Race, Gender, and Partisanship in the 2008 Democratic Primary’. Journal of Elections, Parties, and Public Opinion 20(2):153186.
Jacobson, Gary C. 1978. ‘The Effects of Campaign Spending in Congressional Elections’. The American Political Science Review 6(1):469491.
Jacobson, Gary C. 1990. ‘The Effects of Campaign Spending in House Elections: New Evidence for Old Arguments’. American Journal of Political Science 5(1):334362.
Jessee, Stephen A. 2009. ‘Spatial Voting in the 2004 Presidential Election’. American Political Science Review 103:5981.
Jessee, Stephen A. 2010. ‘Partisan Bias, Political Information and Spatial Voting in the 2008 Presidential Election’. Journal of Politics 72:327340.
Jessee, Stephen A. 2012. Ideology and Spatial Voting in American Elections. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Joesten, Danielle A., and Stone, Walter J.. 2014. ‘Reassessing Proximity Voting: Expertise, Party, and Choice in Congressional Elections’. The Journal of Politics 76(3):740753.
Kedar, Orit. 2005. ‘When Moderate Voters Prefer Extreme Parties: Policy Balancing in Parliamentary Elections’. American Political Science Review 99:185199.
Keith, Bruce E., Magleby, David B., Nelson, Candice J., Orr, Elizabeth, Westlye, Mark C., and Wolfinger, Raymond E.. 1992. The Myth of the Independent Voter. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Key, V. J. 1959. ‘Secular Realignment and the Party System’. Journal of Politics 21:198210.
Kinder, Donald R. 1998. ‘Opinion and Action in the Realm of Politics’. In D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske and G. Lindzey (eds), Handbook of Social Psychology, 4th ed. 778867. London: Oxford University Press.
Levitt, Steven D., and Snyder, James M.. 1995. ‘Political Parties and the Distribution of Federal Outlays’. American Journal of Political Science 39(4):958980.
Mann, Thomas E., and Wolfinger, Raymond E.. 1980. ‘Candidates and Parties in Congressional Elections’. American Political Science Review 74:617632.
Martin, Andrew D., and Quinn, Kevin M.. 2002. ‘Dynamic Ideal Point Estimation Via Markov Chain Monte Carlo for the US Supreme Court’. Political Analysis 10(2):134153.
McCarty, Nolan M., and Poole, Keith T.. 1998. ‘An Empirical Spatial Model of Congressional Campaigns’. Political Analysis 7(1):130.
Merrill, Samuel, and Grofman, Bernard. 1999. A Unified Theory of Voting: Directional and Proximity Spatial Models. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Miller, Warren E., and Stokes, Donald W.. 1963. ‘Constituency Influence in Congress’. American Political Science Review 57:4556.
Peress, Michael. 2013. ‘Candidate Positioning and Responsiveness to Constituent Opinion in the U.S. House of Representatives’. Public Choice 156:7794.
Persson, Torsten, and Tabellini, Guido. 2000. Political Economics: Explaining Economic Policy. Cambridge and London: MIT Press.
Richman, Jesse. 2011. ‘Parties, Pivots, and Policy: The Status Quo Test’. American Political Science Review 105(1):151165.
Shor, Boris, and McCarty, Nolan. 2011. ‘The Ideological Mapping of American Legislatures’. American Political Science Review 105(3):530551.
Stone, Walter J., and Simas, Elizabeth N.. 2010. ‘Candidate Valence and Ideological Positions in U.S. House Elections’. American Journal of Political Science 54(2):371388.
Tausanovitch, Chris, and Warshaw, Christopher. 2013. ‘Measuring Constituent Policy Preferences in Congress, State Legislatures, and Cities’. Journal of Politics 75(2):330342.
Warshaw, Christopher, and Rodden, Jonathan. 2012. ‘How Should we Measure District-Level Public Opinion on Individual Issues?’. Journal of Politics 74(1):203219.
Zaller, John R. 1992. The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Recommend this journal

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

Political Science Research and Methods
  • ISSN: 2049-8470
  • EISSN: 2049-8489
  • URL: /core/journals/political-science-research-and-methods
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary materials

Shor and Rogowski supplementary material
Appendix

 PDF (67 KB)
67 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 16
Total number of PDF views: 188 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 755 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 17th August 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.