DAVID MAYHEW CONGRESS THE ELECTORAL CONNECTION PDF

Compared to other democratic assemblies, the parties within it are weak. Often, the President and Congress are of opposing parties — further complicating issues of whom to hold accountable when things are going poorly and whom to reward when things go well. Despite these potential problems and complications, Congress, according to David Mayhew, still performs remarkably well in representing the interests of its constituents and members. Mayhew wrote Congress at a time when little academic research existed on Congressional behavior, and at the same time, rational choice theory was gaining popularity among political scientists. In his studies, Richard Fenno concluded that members are motivated by reelection, prestige within Congress, and good public policy.

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The long and short of it is this: people in Congress want to re-elected, and the vast majority of their behavior can be understood as contributing to their re-election efforts in one way or another. To use political science jargon, this is a rational choice theory of how Congress operates. There are essentially three ways a Congress-person pursues this goal: advertising, which encompasses not just standard political advertising but any effort that is likely to increase their name ID among the electorate; credit-claiming, or finding ways to plausibly take ownership of stuff like pork-barrel spending in their district or other benefits from legislation; and position-taking, or stating a stance on an issue that should gain them votes in their district because it is popular with a constituency--no action is necessary for this to be effective.

Just holding the position is enough. As someone that spent a number of years working in a legislative office and on campaigns, I can say that most of this felt pretty much correct to me. There is nothing wrong with these activities per se, and we have created a system that incentivizes officeholders to act in the ways they do.

Even decades after it was first published, this text remains a good foundation for gaining insight into Congressional prerogatives. One because I had to read it for a class and two because it is only the opinions and research of David Mayhew.

He concludes that all legislators are motivated by one principle and that is reelection. However, just from reading this book, this logic seems spot on but he included no counter points to his argument so of course it would be sound. All in It is hard to rate this book. All in all it was a good book that helped to open the doors for more research on what really motivates legislators.

If you are a political science major or you just love learning about how Congress works, this is a read for you. It is written similarly to a journal article so there are footnotes and in-text citations.

Easy to grasp. After all, one must hold office in order to accomplish anything else.

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Congress: The Electoral Connection

The long and short of it is this: people in Congress want to re-elected, and the vast majority of their behavior can be understood as contributing to their re-election efforts in one way or another. To use political science jargon, this is a rational choice theory of how Congress operates. There are essentially three ways a Congress-person pursues this goal: advertising, which encompasses not just standard political advertising but any effort that is likely to increase their name ID among the electorate; credit-claiming, or finding ways to plausibly take ownership of stuff like pork-barrel spending in their district or other benefits from legislation; and position-taking, or stating a stance on an issue that should gain them votes in their district because it is popular with a constituency--no action is necessary for this to be effective. Just holding the position is enough. As someone that spent a number of years working in a legislative office and on campaigns, I can say that most of this felt pretty much correct to me. There is nothing wrong with these activities per se, and we have created a system that incentivizes officeholders to act in the ways they do.

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Opening Statements[ edit ] Mayhew claims that the book is theoretical; it pursues an argument and considers the implications for exploratory purposes. He references the decreasing turnover rate of congressmen as evidence for the transition to full-time politicians interested in advancing their careers. It is also the goal that must be reached in order for any other goals legislation to be achieved. Is there a connection between what they do in office and their need to be reelected?

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