The Dynamic Electoral Connection: Symbolic Representation and the Effects of Elections on Public Perception of Elected Officials

24 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2011  

Benjamin G. Bishin

University of California, Riverside (UCR) - Department of Political Science

Chad Murphy

University of Mary Washington

Date Written: August 26, 2011

Abstract

Scholars have long recognized that elections, by themselves, are not enough to ensure the vitality of democratic governance (e.g., Dahl 1971). Sham elections in authoritarian states throughout the world (e.g., Cuba, Iraq) illustrate that Madison’s claim that frequent elections are essential, also requires meaningful choice to ensure that the government has "....an immediate dependence on, and an intimate sympathy with, the people.” (Federalist 52). For citizens’ voices to matter, they must be given a choice between candidates and they must have the capacity to evaluate them.

In this paper, we investigate how elections affect the nature of non-policy representation. We focus on the behavior both of legislators and citizens to examine how, and to what extent, impending elections affect legislators’ non-policy behavior and citizens responses to such changes. To do so we employ text analysis to explain how citizens’ evaluations of their elected officials correspond with pursuit the re-election goal. We ultimately find mixed results on this idea, indicating a need for further study into the topic of election and citizens’ perceptions.

Suggested Citation

Bishin, Benjamin G. and Murphy, Chad, The Dynamic Electoral Connection: Symbolic Representation and the Effects of Elections on Public Perception of Elected Officials (August 26, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1917766 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1917766

Benjamin G. Bishin

University of California, Riverside (UCR) - Department of Political Science ( email )

Riverside, CA 92521
United States

Chad Murphy (Contact Author)

University of Mary Washington ( email )

1301 College Avenue
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
United States

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