Do voters affect or elect policies? A new perspective, with evidence from the U.S. Senate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Using quasi-experimental evidence from close elections, Lee et al. (2004) - henceforth LMB - argue competition for voters in U.S. House elections does not affect policy positions, as incumbent Senate candidates do not vote more extremely if elected than non-incumbents. Despite stronger electoral competition and greater legislative independence, similar results, shown here, hold for the Senate. Yet, the hypothesis that voters do not affect policies conflicts with how Senators moderate their positions prior to their next election. LMB-style estimates appear to be biased downwards as junior members of Congress prefer to vote more extremely than senior members, independently of their electoral strength. Corrected estimates are more favorable to the hypothesis that candidates moderate their policy choices in response to electoral competition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-173
Number of pages12
JournalElectoral Studies
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Congressional politics
  • Electoral competition
  • Incumbency advantage
  • Regression discontinuity
  • Voting behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations

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