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Some Problems in Studying the Effects of Resource Allocation in Congressional Elections

Fiorina, Morris P. (1981) Some Problems in Studying the Effects of Resource Allocation in Congressional Elections. Social Science Working Paper, 344. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

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After analyzing (1) data aggregated to the congressional district level, and (2) individual level data from the 1978 CPS Study, Johannes and McAdams conclude that congressional casework has no electoral impact. This commentary explains such null findings as the product of oversimplistic expectations and methodological weaknesses. Specifically, the Johannes and McAdams aggregate data analysis is misspecified on two counts. First, it attempts to reduce to a single regression equation a temporal sequence in which casework activity and electoral outcomes are mutually intertwined. Second, even were such a drastic reduction possible, the single equation employed would be poorly specified because of inattention to the differential productivity of cases, constituents, and representatives. The individual level analysis also is rife with statistical problems chief among which is multicollinearity aggravated by small numbers of cases. Analyses which do what is possible to minimize such problems reveal a statistically and substantively significant impact of casework on electoral outcomes. Further analyses which go beyond the Johannes and McAdams limitation of casework effects to the individual(s) directly helped suggest that the electoral effects of an incumbent's reputation for service may approach the effects of party identification.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
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URLURL TypeDescription ItemPublished Version
Other Contributors:
ContributionOther Contributors NameIdentifierPersonID (may be blank)
CollaboratorCain, Bruce E.Cain-B-EUNSPECIFIED
CollaboratorFerejohn, John A.Ferejohn-J-AUNSPECIFIED
Additional Information:Revised for publication in October 1980 and January 1981. The research reported in this paper is part of a larger project undertaken in collaboration with Bruce Cain and John Ferejohn and supported by the National Science Foundation (SOC 78-15413). The paper relies heavily on data from the 1978 CPS/NES National Election Study. Neither the National Science Foundation nor CPS/NES is responsible for the interpretations offered herein. Published as Fiorina, Morris P. "Some problems in studying the effects of resource allocation in congressional elections." American Journal of Political Science (1981): 543-567.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSFSOC 78-15413
Subject Keywords:Incumbents, Voting, Congressional elections, Political parties, Political science, Political candidates, Seniority, Congressional districts, Congressional voting, Constituents
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:344
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20171009-142540304
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:82227
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:09 Oct 2017 21:47
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:52

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