Benjamin G. Bishin
Constituency Influence in Congress: Does Subconstituency Matter?
Legislative Studies Quarterly, XXV:389-415

Conflicting findings in the congressional roll-call voting literature have been attributed, in part, to scholars’ failure to identify appropriately the subconstituencies to whom legislators appeal when making decisions (Jackson and Kingdon 1992). This paper develops and examines a new model of legislator behavior that accounts for the prospective constituency—the subset of the legal constituency to whom legislators are likely to appeal in the next election. The prospective constituency is based on the idea that legislators consider the views not only of past supporters but also of swing voters and moderate opposing partisans as well. Results from this model are compared to results generated by a traditional model—one that does not account for subconstituency. Models incorporating the prospective constituency find constituency to influence senators’ roll-call decisions, and they offer an explanation for the conflicting results of past studies.

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