Out of Step, Out of Office: Electoral Accountability and House Members' Voting
|BRANDICE CANES-WRONE a1, DAVID W. BRADY a2 and JOHN F. COGAN a3|
a1 Assistant Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science, California Institute of Technology, Division of Humanities and Social Sciences 228-77, Pasadena, CA 91125 ([email protected]).
a2 Professor of Political Science, Standford University and Fellow, The Hoover Institution, 241 Littlefield, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5015 ([email protected]).
a3 Senior Fellow, The Hoover Institution and Professor of Public Policy, Standford University, HHMB Room 347, Stanford, CA 94305-6010 ([email protected]).
Does a typical House member need to worry about the electoral ramifications of his roll-call decisions? We investigate the relationship between incumbents' electoral performance and roll-call support for their party—controlling for district ideology, challenger quality, and campaign spending, among other factors—through a series of tests of the 1956–1996 elections. The tests produce three key findings indicating that members are indeed accountable for their legislative voting. First, in each election, an incumbent receives a lower vote share the more he supports his party. Second, this effect is comparable in size to that of other widely recognized electoral determinants. Third, a member's probability of retaining office decreases as he offers increased support for his party, and this relationship holds for not only marginal, but also safe members.