Unfastening the Electoral Connection: The Behavior of Representatives when Reelection Is No Longer a Factor

Rebekah Herrick, Michael K. Moore, John R. Hibbing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Scopus citations

Abstract

While elections are essential to a democracy, it is commonly believed that the desire to secure re-election causes legislators to engage in many undesirable activities. In this note, by comparing the behavior of U.S. representatives who have chosen to run for reelection with those representatives who have decided not to do so, we provide evidence of the precise activities induced by electoral concerns. We find that elections cause members to go back to the district more often, to employ more staff assistants, to attend to roll-call voting more fastidiously, and to be more legislatively active. While these activities are no doubt consistent with the wishes of most constituents, the desire for reelection also encourages members to introduce what is apparently frivolous legislation on topics of little familiarity to the member. Those members who are not running for reelection, on the other hand, are more likely to have a successful and tightly focused legislative agenda.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-227
Number of pages14
JournalThe Journal of Politics
Volume56
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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