CHERIE MAESTAS
Professional Legislatures and Ambitious Politicians:
Policy Responsiveness of State Institutions
Legislative Studies Quarterly XXV:663-90

This paper examines the relationship between professionalism, progressive ambition, and legislative responsiveness in state legislatures. I argue that professional legislatures that foster and support progressive ambition will be more responsive to aggregate constituency concerns than will less professional legislatures. Institutions that attract progressively ambitious members create a natural incentive for representation because legislators are motivated to identify and respond to the interests of broad-based constituencies in preparation to pursue higher office. Consistent with this argument, I find that states with more professional legislatures and more opportunities for members to progress to higher office have greater aggregate opinion-policy congruence, even after controlling for the effects of electoral competition and alternative policy influences.


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