Stephen Ansolabehere is Professor of Government, Harvard University, Center for Government and International Studies, 1737 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Philip Edward Jones is Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Relations, University of Delaware, 347 Smith Hall, Newark, DE 19716 (email@example.com).
Constituents’ Responses to Congressional Roll-Call Voting
Article first published online: 21 JUN 2010
©2010, Midwest Political Science Association
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 54, Issue 3, pages 583–597, July 2010
How to Cite
Ansolabehere, S. and Jones, P. E. (2010), Constituents’ Responses to Congressional Roll-Call Voting. American Journal of Political Science, 54: 583–597. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2010.00448.x
- Issue published online: 21 JUN 2010
- Article first published online: 21 JUN 2010
Do citizens hold their representatives accountable for policy decisions, as commonly assumed in theories of legislative politics? Previous research has failed to yield clear evidence on this question for two reasons: measurement error arising from noncomparable indicators of legislators’ and constituents’ preferences and potential simultaneity between constituents’ beliefs about and approval of their representatives. Two new national surveys address the measurement problem directly by asking respondents how they would vote and how they think their representatives voted on key roll-call votes. Using the actual votes, we can, in turn, construct instrumental variables that correct for simultaneity. We find that the American electorate responds strongly to substantive representation. (1) Nearly all respondents have preferences over important bills before Congress. (2) Most constituents hold beliefs about their legislators’ roll-call votes that reflect both the legislators’ actual behavior and the parties’ policy reputations. (3) Constituents use those beliefs to hold their legislators accountable.