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Reassessing the Role of Constituency in Congressional Voting

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Abstract

Poole and Rosenthal (1997) argue that most congressional voting can be understood in terms of a low-dimensional spatial model. This paper uses their model to assess the importance of the two mechanisms that could contribute to the vote-predicting power of constituency variables: (i) constituency variables may predict where legislators fall along one or two dimensions in the vote-predicting spatial model and (ii) constituency variables may account for errors in the spatial model’s predictions. The paper compares different methods of using a basic set of constituency variables to generate out-of-sample predictions for representatives’ votes. The analysis covers a large number of recent House roll call votes, considering Democrats and Republicans separately and using Poole and Rosenthal’s W-NOMINATE scores to measure legislators’ locations in vote-predicting space. The results show that the predictive power of a basic set of constituency variables arises principally from its ability to predict representatives’ locations in Poole and Rosenthal’s space, not from its ability to explain errors in the predictions based on that space. This holds true to a remarkable extent, consistent with Poole and Rosenthal’s argument that the influence of constituent interests occurs largely through logrolling mechanisms reflected in their spatial model.

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  • Fleck, Robert K. & Kilby, Christopher & Fleck, Robert K., 2000. "Reassessing the Role of Constituency in Congressional Voting," Vassar College Department of Economics Working Paper Series 51, Vassar College Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:vas:papers:51
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    Cited by:

    1. Theocharis N. Grigoriadis & Benno Torgler, 2006. "Energy Regulation, Roll Call Votes and Regional Resources: Evidence from Russia," CREMA Working Paper Series 2006-25, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    2. Theocharis N. Grigoriadis & Benno Torgler, 2007. "Market Reform, Regional Energy and Popular Representation: Evidence from Post-Soviet Russia," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series 221, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.
    3. Axel Dreher & Peter Nunnenkamp & Rainer Thiele, 2008. "Does US aid buy UN general assembly votes? A disaggregated analysis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 136(1), pages 139-164, July.
    4. Grigoriadis, Theocharis N. & Torgler, Benno, 2009. "Energy polarization and popular representation: Evidence from the Russian Duma," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 322-334, March.
    5. J. Broz, 2011. "The United States Congress and IMF financing, 1944–2009," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 341-368, September.
    6. Bernhard Boockmann & Axel Dreher, 2011. "Do human rights offenders oppose human rights resolutions in the United Nations?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 146(3), pages 443-467, March.
    7. Martial Foucault & Abel François, 2005. "Le rendement des dépenses électorales en France. Le cas des élections législatives de 1997," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 56(5), pages 1125-1143.
    8. Daniel Lee, 2014. "Third-party threat and the dimensionality of major-party roll call voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(3), pages 515-531, June.
    9. F. Andrew Hanssen, 2004. "Is There a Politically Optimal Level of Judicial Independence?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 712-729, June.
    10. John Patty, 2010. "Dilatory or anticipatory? Voting on the Journal in the House of Representatives," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 143(1), pages 121-133, April.
    11. Axel Dreher & Jan-Egbert Sturm, 2012. "Do the IMF and the World Bank influence voting in the UN General Assembly?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 151(1), pages 363-397, April.

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