Representativeness and Elections: A Policy Analysis

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This paper looks at representativeness in terms of policy dimensions. As previous studies also have demonstrated, the analysis provides evidence that the level of policy agreement varies across policy domains. The policy linkage is weak on questions of taxation and government administration. Only on contemporary liberalism does the level of policy agreement begin to meet the standards of representational theory. The occurrence of elections is found to be a particularly important determinant of legislative voting vis-à-vis constituency preferences. California senators, elected for four-year terms, are undeniably unrepresentative to direct opinion during the first three years of their terms; representativeness increases dramatically during the final year. Senators facing the possibility of having their reelection fortunes adversely affected by a presidential campaign are particularly attuned to district opinion during the final year of their terms. Assemblymen, who are elected for two-year terms, are attuned to the wishes of their constituencies throughout their terms. As the Founding Fathers believed, the frequency of elections conditions representatives’ loyalty to the preferences of the represented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-177
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1978
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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