a1 San Francisco State College
“Ambition,” Joseph Schlesinger argues, “lies at the heart of politics.… The central assumption of ambition theory is that a politician's behavior is a response to his office goals.” But the structure of opportunity and the structure of ambition have proved extremely difficult to link empirically.
Some years ago Harold Lasswell ridiculed the notion of a political escalator carrying politicians in an orderly and inevitable fashion from the lowest to the highest positions of power in the United States. Various structural and motivational factors do not support such a conception.
Jeff Fishel, Assistant Professor of Political Science at San Francisco State College, has contributed articles on American and West German legislative candidates to other journals and is working on a larger study of electoral opposition in the United States.
* My thanks go to Dwaine Marvick, Harry M. Scoble, and Louis Loeb for their critical and helpful comments on this manuscript. Financial support was provided by the Falk Foundation, through the Political Behavior Archives at UCLA. I'm also grateful to The Bookings Institution for use of their facilities while I was in residence as a Guest Scholar.