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Campaign Appeals and Legislative Action

- February 27, 2008

Tracy Sulkin, assistant professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, wrote an interesting book, Issue Politics in Congress, a few years ago. In the book, she asks an interesting question, “Do representatives and senators respond to the critiques raised by their challengers?” The short answer, yes. She demonstrates that “winning legislators regularly take up their challengers’ priority issues from the last campaign and act on them.”

Sulkin extends her research in an article and explores,

[T]he extent to which the campaign appeals made by congressional candidates serve as credible signals about the issues they will pursue in office. [Her] analyses focus on the televised advertisements of 391 House candidates in the 1998, 2000, and 2002 elections and the content of their subsequent legislative activity in the 106th-108th Congresses. [She] track[s] candidates’ and legislators’ attention to a set of 18 different issues and show that legislators do indeed follow through on the appeals they make in campaigns. However, the strength of the linkages between campaign appeals and legislative activity varies in a systematic fashion with features of candidates’ rhetoric. These findings illustrate the value of extending the study of campaign effects to include phenomena that occur after Election Day and of conceiving of the linkages between electoral and legislative politics as a locus for representation.

Interesting stuff. Read the full paper here.

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