Congressional Elections - University of San Diego Home Pages

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Congressional Elections
Free-Write
Write a short essay discussing what constitutes
good representation, in your mind. What
characteristics of a representative would make
you feel like he or she should do a good job
representing you and your interests? What
behavior should a good representative engage
in? When, if ever, should a representative put his
constituents’ interests aside and think of the
greater good?
You will turn this essay in for participation credit.
Values associated with representation
• Looking like me, having my background
– “Symbolic representation”
• Rep. uses own judgment to act on my
behalf
– “Representative-as-delegate”
• Doing exactly what I would do
– “Representative as agent”
• Communication with me
Questions to consider:
• Who do Members of Congress represent?
• Do congressional elections ensure
accountable representatives?
• What kinds of candidates do elections
favor?
Rules governing election to
Congress
• The Constitution
Constitution: election to the
House of Representatives
•
•
•
•
•
Election every 2 years
Must be 25 years old
Citizenship for 7 years
Live in the state
Selected same way as largest house of state
legislature (popular vote)
• Apportioned among states based on population
Constitution: election to the Senate
• Election every 6 years
– Three Classes
•
•
•
•
•
Must be at least 30 years old
Citizen for 9 years
Live in the state
Selected by state legislatures
2 per state
Rules governing election to
Congress
•
•
•
•
The Constitution
Single-member, winner-take all districts
Reapportionment and redistricting
Primary election laws
– Open vs. Closed
• FECA
Federal Election Campaign Act
(as amended by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002)
• Contribution limit (individuals) = $2000
• Total cycle contribution limit = $95,000
• Contribution limit (PACs) = $5000
How do voters decide?
Heuristics:
• Party ID
• Name recognition
• Incumbency!
Sources of incumbent advantage
•
•
•
•
Voters recognize their name
Gerrymandering
Privileges of office
Ease of raising money
How do voters decide?
• Heuristics
• Campaigns
Cost of campaigns
2000 House:
• Ave. expenditures: $693,952
• Incumbents’ ave. expenditures: $814,507
• Challengers’ ave. expenditures: $369,823
Where does money come from?
House candidates' ave. funding sources,
2000
Candidate
11%
Other
5%
Party
2%
Individuals
51%
PACs
31%
Individuals
PACs
Party
Candidate
Other
Where does money come from?
Senate candidates' funding sources, 2000
Other
6%
Candidate
24%
Individuals
53%
Party
4%
PACs
13%
Individuals
PACs
Party
Candidate
Other
Budget of a typical House campaign
Campaign
literature
8.00%
Voter
reg/GOTV
1.30%
Other comm.
3.90%
Staff salaries
17.80%
Newspaper
ads
.4%
Fundraising
9.40%
Radio ads
12.30%
Travel 2.5%
TV
21.80%
Direct mail
8.10%
Polling
2.1%
Overhead
10.50%
Median Voter Theorem
• Assume that Ideology and issue positions
are normally distributed in the population
• In a winner-take-all system, candidates will
try to get one more vote than the other
candidate by moving toward the center.
• Goal is to win over the “median voter”
Who gets elected?
• White men
Who gets elected?
• White men
• Lawyers
• Christians
• Previously elected officials
Questions to consider:
• What kinds of candidates does this system of
elections favor?
• Do you think these elections produce people
who are representative of the whole population?
• Do they produce people who can represent the
whole population well?
• Do these elections have the potential to hold
members accountable to their constituents?
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