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Congressmen and their Constituents: 1958 and 1978

Fiorina, Morris P. (1981) Congressmen and their Constituents: 1958 and 1978. Social Science Working Paper, 384. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

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In the wake of the 1978 CPS National Election Study the prevailing portrait of House elections has changed dramatically. The new portrait is more in harmony with theories developed to explain the increasingly idiosyncratic character of House elections in the 1960s and 1970s. As yet, however, there has been little direct attention devoted to the study of change at the level of the individual House voter. This paper reports on a preliminary effort in that direction based on comparisons of items from the 1958 and 1978 election studies. Four kinds of possible change are the focus of the research: (1) change in the prevalence of citizen perceptions of the House candidates, (2) change in the valence of candidate evaluations, (3) change in the substance of candidate evaluations, (4) change in the behavioral importance of particular variables. While the data show some indication of increased attentiveness to their districts on the part of contemporary incumbents, the overall impression from the data is one of less longitudinal change than might have been expected. These tentative null findings underscore the fact that the greatly changed contemporary portrait of House elections arises mainly from items newly included in the 1978 survey rather than from significant change in the data elicited by “comparable” items over time.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Additional Information:Originally prepared for presentation at the Symposium on The United States Congress, sponsored by the Department of Political Science, Boston College, January 30-31, 1981 (on the occasion of the dedication of the Thomas P. O'Neill Chair in American Politics). The research reported in this paper was supported by NSF Grant # SES 8010662. Thanks are due to Bruce Cain and John Ferejohn, who commented on an earlier version of this paper.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
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Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:384
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20171005-143759243
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:82128
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:06 Oct 2017 18:22
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:51

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