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Do representatives and senators respond to the critiques raised by their challengers? This study, exploring how legislators' experiences as candidates shape their subsequent behavior as policymakers, demonstrates that winning legislators regularly take up their challengers' priority issues from the last campaign and act on them. This attentiveness to their challengers' issues reflects a widespread and systematic yet largely unrecognized mode of responsiveness in the U.S. Congress. Tracy Sulkin reveals the important benefits for these legislators as well as the health and legitimacy of the representative process.Read more
- Unites campaigns and legislative behavior in a single model
- Proposes a new, agenda-based standard for legislative representation
- Identifies a previously unrecognized role played by challengers in congressional campaigns
Reviews & endorsements
"This book is a major contribution to the study of Congress and, more generally, to the fields of legislative studies and American politics. It is rigorously organized, well-written, and thorough. With this book, Sulkin unifies the work on congressional elections with work on Congress as an institution, as she links the study of congressional campaigns to the study of agenda-setting and participation in Congress." Gerald Gamm, University of RochesterSee more reviews
"...Tracy Sulkin's Issue Politics in Congress...is a strikingly, refreshingly original work. It's probably the best book on legislative representation in decades and one of the best books on Congress in recent memory. Sulkin identifies a feature of representation mostly missed in the voluminous literature on the subject, what she calls "issue uptake." Issue uptake occurs when, in response to the criticisms of her challenger, the reelected incumbent changes her legislative agendas in the ensuing congress. Sulkin's account of legislators' uptake level is smart, focusing on the psychology of issue attention and, more prominently, the strategic considerations of incumbents contemplating running the next time round. The empirical analysis of the book employs data on a variety of legislators' activities, including both cross-sectional and over time data, from both House and Senate. The results are rich and almost always compelling. But it's the larger implications of the book that make it exciting scholarship. It is unusual in that it connects, systematically rather than speculatively, the electoral and the legislative arenas. It shows us that campaigns matter, even if they don't actually affect who gets elected to Congress. Campaigns matter even if incumbents get reelected time after time. And challengers matter . . . Issue Politics in Congress will be an important book for a long time to come." Richard Hall, University of Michigan
This important study provides fresh understanding of national legislators' responsiveness to their constituents mediated through an unusual channel. A necessary read for congressional scholars. Highly recommended.
"This book immediately places "issue uptake" on the list of concepts that all students of Congressional politics and electoral behavior need to know. Through sophisticated data analysis and telling examples, Sulkin explains why legislators adopt the agendas of their challengers, when they do so most vigorously, and what the payoffs are for theirs careers and for legislative representation. She adds a subtle yet critical piece to our disciplineas account of how campaigns influence policy." Thad Kousser, University of California, San Diego
"....Tracy Sulkin examines legislators' actions on their own and on their opponents' campaign issues and in doing so provides new and important insights into the ways in which campaigns affect governing and incumbents use their opportunities in office to secure their reelection....this book is exploratory....Issue Politics in Congress will be a substantial contribution to the literature because it goes to the core of the nature of republican democracy....It is an extremely creative and meticulous empirical approach to studying representation..."
--Eric S. Heberlig, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, Political Science Quarterly
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- Date Published: October 2005
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9780521855211
- length: 222 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 16 mm
- weight: 0.5kg
- contains: 26 tables
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. Electoral challenges and legislative responsiveness
2. A theory of issue uptake
3. The nature of campaign and legislative agendas
4. Assessing uptake
5. Who responds?: explaining individual variation in uptake
6. Patterns of responsiveness in congress
7. The electoral impacts of uptake
8. Uptake and public policy
9. Elections, governance, and representation.
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