Extremity in Congress: Communications versus Votes

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Abstract

I propose a theory of legislator-to-constituent communication that describes a relationship between the types of votes a legislator reveals and the partisan composition of her constituency. To test this theory, I use an original data set of 40,000 official communications containing 30,000 vote revelations from the 111th Congress. I find evidence substantiating this theory; the extent to which a legislator endeavors to appear more ideologically extreme in communications varies systematically with the relative amounts of different types of voters in her district. This result is contrasted with an analysis of voting extremism where I find that the ideological preferences of donors better explain voting patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-603
Number of pages29
JournalLegislative Studies Quarterly
Volume41
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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