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The case of the vanishing marginals: The bureaucracy did it

Fiorina, Morris P. (1977) The case of the vanishing marginals: The bureaucracy did it. American Political Science Review, 71 (1). pp. 177-181. ISSN 0003-0554. doi:10.1017/S0003055400259376.

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Several authors have addressed the postwar decline of electoral competition on the congressional level. Some have attributed the decline to institutional change such as the redistrictings of the 1960s. Others have remarked on the growing use of the growing resources of incumbency. Still others, like Ferejohn, have focused on behavioral change in the larger electoral system, such as the erosion of party identification. In this comment I suggest that while electoral behavior has changed, the change is at least in part a response to changing congressional behavior, which in turn is a reaction to institutional change for which Congress is partly responsible. Specifically, over time congressmen have placed increasing emphasis on district services: more and more they operate as and are perceived as ombudsmen rather than as national policymakers. This behavioral change is an understandable response to an expanding federal role and an increasing involvement of the federal bureaucracy in the lives of ordinary citizens, an institutional change Congress has helped to bring about.

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Additional Information:© 1977 American Political Science Association. Without implicating any of them, I wish to thank Richard Fenno, John Kingdon, Charles Bullock, David Mayhew, Douglas Price, and Glenn Parker for their thoughtful comments and criticisms. Formerly SSWP 100.
Subject Keywords:Incumbents, Government bureaucracy, Congressional districts, Voting, Political parties, Congressional elections, Voting behavior, Party identification, Reelection
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20171205-133705200
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:83695
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:02 Jan 2018 23:03
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 20:13

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