Ideology and the US Congressional Vote
Political Science Research and Methods, 2016
34 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2015 Last revised: 29 Jun 2016
Date Written: May 23, 2016
A large class of theoretical models posits that voters choose candidates on the basis of issue congruence, but convincing empirical tests of this key claim remain elusive. The most persistent difficulty is obtaining comparable spatial estimates for winning and losing candidates, as well as voters. We address these issues using candidate surveys to characterize the electoral platforms for winners and losers, and large issue batteries in 2008 and 2010 to estimate voter preferences. Questions that were answered by both candidates and citizens allow us to jointly scale these estimates. We find robust evidence that vote choice in congressional elections is both strongly associated with spatial proximity and that individual-level and contextual variables commonly associated with congressional voting behavior condition the magnitude of its importance. Our results have important implications for theories of voter decision-making and electoral institutions.
Keywords: congress, ideology, representation, joint classification
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