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Title:Congressional primaries and legislative behavior
Author(s):Schmitt, Carly
Director of Research:Sulkin, Tracy E.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Sulkin, Tracy E.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bernhard, William T.; Kuklinski, James H.; Sin, Gisela
Department / Program:Political Science
Discipline:Political Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Legislative Behavior
Congressional Primaries
Abstract:Are competitive elections “good” for democracy? Competitive elections are said to symbolize the health of democracy, and their absence thus challenges the viability of the political system. But, there are actually competing expectations about the consequences of competition on representation. Close elections may increase reelection-oriented legislators’ responsiveness to the interests of their constituents. However, time, effort, and resources spent campaigning in the district means time taken away from governing in Washington DC. Further, the increased focus on legislators’ reelection constituencies may drive them to be less likely to pursue the interests of the district as a whole, particularly in primary elections where the reelection constituency is the party base. I investigate how primary competition affects legislators’ volume of activity, the issue content of this activity, and their levels of party loyalty. Using primary election data from the 1998-2008 election cycles and legislative behavior data from the 105th - 110th Congresses, my analyses compare the legislative behavior of MCs with and without primary opponents, the behavior of legislators before and during the primary election, and MCs’ behavior across Congresses. In turn, this provides insight into how primary competition affects legislative behavior, and, equally important, whether it promotes representation and responsiveness.
Issue Date:2014-01-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Carly Schmitt
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-01-16
Date Deposited:2013-12

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