Date of Completion

May 2006


Reelection and self-interest are recurring themes in the study of our congressional leaders. To date, many studies have already been done on the trends between elections, party affiliation, and voting behavior in Congress. However, because a plethora of data has been collected on both elections and congressional voting, the ability to draw a connection between the two provides a very reasonable prospect. This project analyzes whether voting shifts in congressional elections have an effect on congressional voting. Will a congressman become ideologically more polarized when his electoral margins increase? Essentially, this paper assumes that all congressmen are ideologically polarized, and it is elections which serve to reel congressmen back toward the ideological middle. The election and ideological data for this study, which spans from the 56th to the 107th Congress, finds statistically significant relationships between these two variables. In fact, congressman pay attention to election returns when voting in Congress. When broken down by party, Democrats are more exhibitive of this phenomenon, which suggest that Democrats may be more likely to intrinsically follow the popular model of representation. Meanwhile, it can be hypothesized that insignificant results for Republicans indicate that Republicans may follow a trustee model of representation.

steve.napier.2 (24 kB)
Table 4 Strong Parties by Party

steve.napier.3 (20 kB)
Table 1 Full Dataset

steve.napier.4 (22 kB)
Table 2 Full Database by Party

steve.napier.5 (23 kB)
Table 3 Strong-Weak Parties