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?