Issue Accountability and the Mass Public

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Abstract

Under what conditions, if any, does the mass electorate hold congressional members accountable for their records on specific issues? We examine this question on the issue of crime, for which salience has varied substantially and opinion has favored Republicans, and the environment, for which salience has not varied much and voters have favored Democrats. Because different parametric specifications produce divergent findings, we utilize matching analysis in addition to ordinary least squares. The tests suggest that issue accountability exists even controlling for a member's overall record. However, such accountability depends crucially on issue salience and a member's partisan affiliation.

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