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Title: Map showing the location of anthracite coal regions. Th


1
Congressional Elections
  • POLS 125 Political Parties Elections

We would all like to vote for the best man but
he is never a candidate. Frank McKinney
Kin Hubbard
2
The Electoral Connection
Members of Congress are faced with three primary
goals
  • Getting elected
  • Achieving influence in Congress
  • Making good public policy

Specifically, I shall conjure up a vision of
United States congressmen as single-minded
seekers of reelection, see what kinds of
activities and goals that implies, and then
speculate about how congressmen so motivated are
likely to go about building and sustaining
legislative institutions and making policy
David Mayhew, Congress The Electoral
Connection (1974)
3
Who are these people?
Richard Tarrant, Republican candidate for U.S.
Senate in 2006
LEAHY
Cris Ericson, Independent candidate for U.S.
Senate in 2006
Jack McMullen, Republican candidate for U.S.
Senate in 2004
SANDERS
Craig Hill, Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate
in 2006
4
Who are these people?
Peter Moss, Peace Prosperity candidate for U.S.
Senate in 2012
WELCH
Mark Donka, Republican candidate for U.S. House
in 2012
John MacGovern, Republican candidate for U.S.
Senate in 2012
SANDERS
Jane Newton, Liberty Union candidate for U.S.
House in 2012
5
The Power of Incumbency
The chance of unseating an incumbent member of
Congress is slim. Most incumbents run for
reelection and most of them win by substantial
margins. Even in 1994, when an anti-incumbent
mood hung in the air, 90 of incumbent House
members, and 92 of incumbent Senators were
returned to office. In Vermont,
  • PATRICK LEAHY (D) was first elected to the U.S.
    Senate in 1974. He is currently serving his 6th
    term.
  • BERNIE SANDERS (I) was elected to the U.S. House
    of Representatives in 1990. He served in that
    office continuously until 2006, when he was
    elected to the U.S. Senate.
  • PETER WELCH (D) was elected to the U.S. House of
    Representatives in 2006.

6
Incumbent House and Senate Members Running for
Reelection, 1964-2010
7
Reelection Rates of House and Senate Incumbents,
1946-2006
Why is incumbency a less powerful force in Senate
elections?
8
Poll Finds Anti-Incumbent Mood
Now thinking about all the federal, state and
local offices you are going to vote for this
November. Compared to previous years, are you
more likely to vote for an incumbent who
currently holds an elected office, or are you
more likely to vote for the challenger?
9
Incumbency Advantage
  • Redistricting
  • Decline of party
    loyalty
  • Familiarity
  • Experience
  • Resources

10
Dubious Democracy?
  • Sky-high incumbency rates. Only five incumbents
    lost to challengers in 2004the second lowest in
    our nations history. Nearly nine in ten
    incumbents were re-elected by landslide margins
    of at least 20 percent.
  • Landslides. In 14 states, every race was won by a
    landslide margin of at least 20 percent in 2004.
    Only four states (all with less than three seats)
    recorded no landslide wins.
  • High victory margins. The average victory margin
    was a whopping 40 percent. Seven of every eight
    (83) U.S. House races were won by landslide
    margins of at least 20 percent in 2004. Only 23
    races (5) were won by competitive margins of
    less than 10 percent.
  • Apathy. Nearly one out of every 11 voters skipped
    over their House race on the ballot. Despite a
    surge in turnout due to the presidential race,
    more than 62 percent of eligible voters nearly
    two in three did not vote for a winning House
    representative.

Source http//www.fairvote.org/?page543
11
Confidence in American Institutions, 2011
"I am going to read you a list of institutions in
American society. Please tell me how much
confidence you, yourself, have in each one--a
great deal, quite a lot, some, or very little?"
Source CNN/USA Today/ Gallup poll, June 9-11,
2011.
12
Confidence in American Institutions, 2011
"I am going to read you a list of institutions in
American society. Please tell me how much
confidence you, yourself, have in each one--a
great deal, quite a lot, some, or very little?"
Confidence in government institutions is
comparatively low.
Source CNN/USA Today/ Gallup poll, June 9-11,
2011.
13
Congressional Approval, 1974-2012
Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress
is handling its job?
Americans are far more favorable towards their
own member of Congress
14
Candidate-Centered Campaigns
  • Today, campaigns are largely controlled by
    candidates.
  • Candidates spend a great deal of time raising
    money for their campaigns.
  • The old politics emphasized party rallies and
    door-to-door canvassing, which required
    organizations built around campaign volunteers.
    The new politics emphasizes effective use of
    the media, reliance on campaign consultants,
    pollsters, media producers and fund-raising
    specialists.
  • Old-style campaigns relied on party loyalty to
    bring out the vote whereas today's campaigns
    depend on creating and sustaining a favorable
    media image for the candidate and presenting a
    negative image of the opponent.
  • Modern day candidates have become increasingly
    dependent on televised ads, which means more air
    time is devoted to national rather than state and
    local races and candidates. Media campaigns also
    include debates and talk-show appearances.
  • Political parties have adapted to
    technology-based campaigns by increasing their
    services to candidates.
  • Parties have come to depend more on soft money
    donations to fund general advertising,
    registration and get-out-the-vote drives.
  • Candidates are increasingly using the internet to
    raise money, attract volunteers and increase
    public support. The internet lends itself to use
    of direct attacks on rival candidates.

Source http//highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/007
281733x/student_view0/chapter8/chapter_outline.htm
l
15
Reelection Rates of House and Senate Incumbents,
1946-2010
16
History of Congressional Elections
  • Throughout most of U.S. history, congressional
    elections were party-centered.
  • In the post-World War II era, campaigns have
    became increasingly candidate-centered,
    centered around images that are largely
    independent of party labels.

17
Creating an Appealing Image
18
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19
The Candidate-Centered Campaign
What factors have influenced the rise of the
candidate-centered campaign?
1. THE INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK
  • Separation of powers
  • Bicameralism
  • Federalism
  • Primaries

2. POLITICAL CULTURE
3. CAMPAIGN TECHNOLOGY
4. POLITICAL CLIMATE
20
President
0 4 8 12 16
20 24
The president is elected every four years by the
Electoral College
Presidential election years draw in higher
turnout.
House
The entire House is elected every two years by
voters within each congressional district
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18
20 22 24
Midterm congressional elections have lower rates
of voter turnout.
Senate
1/3 of the Senate is elected every two years by
voters within each state
0 6 12
18 24
2 8 14
20
4 10
16 22
21
Holding elections in this wayusing different
timetables and different constituencies
separates the electoral fortunes of members of
Congress from one another, and does little to
encourage teamwork in campaigning.
22
The institution of Congress supports the
electoral needs of its members remarkably well
  • Incumbency provides visibility
  • Congressional privileges (e.g., franking) allows
    members to advertise their issue positions back
    home
  • Political power is decentralized
  • The seniority system ensures that the value of an
    incumbent appreciates over time

23
The Candidate-Centered Campaign
What factors have influenced the rise of the
candidate-centered campaign?
1. THE INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK
  • Separation of powers
  • Bicameralism
  • Federalism
  • Primaries

2. POLITICAL CULTURE
3. CAMPAIGN TECHNOLOGY
4. POLITICAL CLIMATE
24
Incumbent House Members Running for Reelection,
1964-2006
25
Candidate-centered campaigns Incumbent
advantage
CONSEQUENCES?
26
The Responsible Party Model Revisited
A strong political party can generate collective
responsibility by creating incentives for
leaders, followers, and popular supporters to
think and act in collective terms. First, by
providing party leaders with the capability
(e.g., control of institutional patronage,
nominations, etc) to discipline party members,
genuine leadership becomes possible.
Legislative output is less likely to be a least
common denominatora residue of myriad
conflicting proposalsand more likely to consist
of a program actually intended to solve a problem
or move the nation in a particular direction.
Second, the subordination of individual office
holders to the party lessens their ability to
separate themselves from party actions. Like it
or not their performance becomes indentified with
the performance of the collectivity to which they
belong. Third, with individual candidate
variation greatly reduced, voters have less
incentive to support individuals and more to
support or oppose the party as a whole. And
fourth, the circle closes are party-line voting
in the electorate provides party leaders with the
incentive to propose policies which will earn the
support of a national majority, and party
backbenchers with the personal incentive to
cooperate with leaders in the attempt to compile
a good record for the party as a whole Morris
Fiorina
27
Some scholars claim that Congress rewards
individual responsiveness over collective
responsibility. Are stronger parties the
answer?
28
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29
Individual Responsiveness vs. Collective
Responsibility
What kind of political representation is produced
by American electoral politics and how does that
representation influence the laws Congress enacts?
  • Increasingly, we have seen the insulation of
    members of Congress from national political
    forceswhich makes it harder and harder to unseat
    incumbents once they are elected into office.
  • Candidate-centered campaigns allow members to
    escape responsibility for Congress performance
    as an institution.
  • As the electoral fates of Congress and the
    president diverge, so does their incentive to
    cooperate to get things done.
  • The fragmentation of the legislative process and
    the committee system often leads to gridlock.

In short, Congress often provides a kind of
hyper-responsiveness to the publics desires, but
without true collective responsibility for their
actions.
30
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31
Consequences?
  • Congress as a whole is unpopular, but incumbents
    can usually weather the storm.
  • What makes a member of Congress popular at home
    often involves them acting contrary to the
    national interest.

32
Incumbency Advantage
  • Redistricting
  • Decline of party
    loyalty
  • Familiarity
  • Experience
  • Resources

33
The Candidate-Centered Campaign
  • Advantages
  • Provide flexibility and new blood to electoral
    politics
  • Encourage national officeholders to be responsive
    to local interests
  • Disadvantages
  • Prominent influence of special interests and
    stress on campaign funding
  • Can degenerate into personality contests and
    "attack politics"
  • Blur the connection between campaigning and
    governing

34
Confidence in American Institutions, 2007
"I am going to read you a list of institutions in
American society. Please tell me how much
confidence you, yourself, have in each one--a
great deal, quite a lot, some, or very little?"
Confidence in government institutions is
comparatively low.
Source CNN/USA Today/ Gallup poll, June 11-44,
2007.
35
Accused of bribery, Congressman Dan Flood (D-PA)
sometimes known as Dapper Dan resigned from
the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980 after
serving 16 terms.
Map showing the location of anthracite coal
regions
36
Trust in Government
  • Whats Wrong with Congress?
  • Congress It Doesnt Work. Lets Fix It
  • Kick the Bums Out
  • The Best Congress Money Can Buy

Can the publics distrust of Congress be blamed
on the electoral system?
37
Incumbent House and Senate Members Running for
Reelection, 1964-2010
38
Incumbent House Members Running for Reelection,
1964-2006
39
An Incumbent Protection Plan
Beginning in early 2001, a great tragedy occurred
in American politics. It happened quietly, for
the most part behind closed doors, and with
minimal public input or oversight. The net result
of this tragedy is that most voters had their
cote rendered nearly meaningless, almost as if it
had been stolen from them. Yet the stealing
happened without faulty voting equipment, poorly
designed ballots, misused voter lists, or
campaign finance abuses. It was more like a
silent burglar in the middle of the night having
his way while American voters slept And it was
legal. Not only was it legal, but the two major
political parties, their incumbents, and their
consultants were participants in the heist.
Steven Hill, Behind Closed Doors (2002)
40
Reapportionment, as Defined by the U.S.
Constitution
ARTICLE 1, Section 2, Clause 3 Representatives
and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the
several States which may be included within this
Union, according to their respective Numbers,
which shall be determined by adding to the whole
Number of free Persons, including those bound to
Service for a Term of Years, and excluding
Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other
Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made
within three Years after the first Meeting of the
Congress of the United States, and within every
subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as
they shall by Law direct. The Number of
Representatives shall not exceed one for every
thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at
Least one Representative
41
What is Apportionment?
Apportionment (or reapportionment), is the
process of distributing seats for a legislative
body among different sectors of the country by
creating constituencies. Typically, this is done
proportionally to the population in the
individual sectors to prevent unequal
representation among different constituencies. In
the United States, for example, the 435 seats in
the House of Representatives are allotted
proportionately between the states, who then
create districts for House members to run
in. Malapportionment is broad and systematic
variance in the size of electoral constituencies
resulting in disproportionate representation for
a given voter.
Source http//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apportionmen
t
42
The Politics of Apportionment
  • At first there was 1 member of the House of
    Representatives for every 30,000 American
    citizens. Today, with a current population of
    300 million, that ratio has increased to about
    1690,000.
  • If we were to restore the original ratio between
    the House of Representatives and their
    constituents, it would require increasing the
    size of the chamber from 435 members (where it
    has been locked since 1911), to 10,000 members.
  • But remember, Article I of the U.S. Constitution
    says that The Number of Representatives shall
    not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, which
    means there will not be more representatives than
    that, not that there will not be fewer.

Has political representation been diluted by
population growth?
43
Baker v. Carr (1962)
In the 1962 case before the U.S. Supreme Court,
the state of Tennessee had failed to reapportion
the state legislature for 60 years despite
population growth and redistribution. Charles
Baker, a voter, brought suit against the state
(Joe Carr was a state official in charge of
elections) in federal district court, claiming
that the dilution of his vote as a result of the
states failure to reapportion violated the equal
protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to
the Constitution. The court dismissed the
complaint on the grounds that it could not decide
a political question. Baker appealed to the
Supreme Court, which ruled that a case raising a
political issue would be heard. This landmark
decision opened the way for numerous suits on
legislative apportionment .
Source http//www.encyclopedia.com/html/B/Bakerv
C1a.asp
44
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45
(No Transcript)
46
(No Transcript)
47
(No Transcript)
48
Electoral Map for 2012
49
(No Transcript)
50
Redrawing District Lines
  • What is gerrymandering?  Gerrymandering is a term
    that describes the deliberate rearrangement of
    the boundaries of congressional districts to
    influence the outcome of elections.   
  • Where did gerrymandering come from? The original
    gerrymander was created in 1812 by Massachusetts
    governor Elbridge Gerry, who crafted a district
    for political purposes that looked like a
    salamander.   
  • What is the purpose of gerrymandering? The
    purpose of gerrymandering is to either
    concentrate opposition votes into a few districts
    to gain more seats for the majority in
    surrounding districts (called packing), or to
    diffuse minority strength across many districts
    (called dilution).   
  • How has Congress regulated redistricting? In
    1967, Congress passed a law requiring all U.S.
    representatives to be elected from single member
    districts in the system we use today. Congress in
    1982 amended the Voting Rights Act to protect the
    voting rights of protected racial minorities in
    redistricting. Within those laws, states have
    great leeway to draw districts, which often leads
    to gerrymandering.

Source http//www.fairvote.org/redistricting/ger
rymandering.htm
51
The Original Gerrymander
52
Cracking and Packing
Redrawing the balanced electoral districts in
this example creates a guaranteed 3-to-1
advantage in representation for the blue voters
as 14 red voters are packed into the light green
district and the remaining 18 are cracked across
the 3 remaining blue districts.
Source http//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymanderi
ng
53
Redistricting Software
Maptitude for Redistricting is a special edition
of Caliper Corporations Maptitude GIS for
Windows that includes everything you need to
build and analyze redistricting plans. As you
assign area features to a district, the district
boundaries are redrawn and selected attributes
are automatically summarized to reflect the
districts characteristics
54
Majority-Minority Districts
The unusual earmuff shape of the 4th
Congressional District of Illinois connects two
Hispanic neighborhoods while remaining continuous
by narrowly tracing Interstate 294.
My contribution to modern art!
Source http//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymanderi
ng
55
Majority-Minority Districts
Consider North Carolinas 12th congressional
district (the 1st, drawn in dark green, is nearly
as strange) The joke in the mid-1990s was
this If you drove down the highway in the 12th
district with your car doors open, you would kill
everyone in it! Why were such irregular district
lines drawn by the state legislature? The
idea, as one newspaper columnist explained, was
to gather enough black voters to elect a black
representativea so-called majority-minority
districtand it worked. In the eastern part of
the state they produced a second black-majority
district whose shape recalls a bug splattered on
a windshield. The states remaining districts
variously resemble a pterodactyl, a rag doll, a
broken nutcracker and the lymphatic system of a
chipmunk.
56
The Fight Over North Carolinas 12th
Congressional District
District lines have been redrawn several times in
response to legal challenges.
Gerrymandering based solely on race has been
ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court
under the Fourteenth Amendment, first by Shaw v.
Reno (1993) and subsequently by Miller v. Johnson
(1995). Partisan gerrymandering remains legal.
57
Legal Standards on Racial Gerrymandering
  • It is permissible to be aware of race in the
    districting process and to consider issues of
    race.
  • Race, however, may not be the predominant factor
    in the redistricting process to the subordination
    of traditional districting principles.
  • Districts are not necessarily unconstitutional
    because they have odd shapes however, a bizarre
    shape may be evidence that strongly suggests that
    race was the predominant factor driving the
    districting decision.
  • If race was the predominant consideration in the
    districting decision, the districts are subject
    to strict scrutiny analysis and the governmental
    body must demonstrate that they are a narrowly
    tailored means of addressing a compelling
    governmental interest.
  • Compliance with Section 2 of the Voting Rights
    Act is a compelling governmental interest.
  • The Court has been willing to assume that
    compliance with Section 5 of the Voting Rights
    Act is a compelling governmental interest, but it
    has never been required to decide the issue.
  • Districts drawn to comply with Sections 2 or 5
    must be narrowly tailored. That means, among
    other things, that they use race no more than is
    necessary.

58
The Texas Redistricting Case
Gerrymandering based solely on race has been
ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
However, partisan gerrymandering remains legal.
Some argue that Lays plan strengthened the GOP
majority in the House by as many as 5 seats.
59
The Texas Redistricting Case
Some argue that Lays plan strengthened the GOP
majority in the House by as many as 5 seats.
60
Reform in Redistricting
61
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62
Do these commissions really create more
competitive elections? No, says Alan Abramowitz
During the 2002-2002 round of redistricting,
eight states with a total of 75 House districts
used nonpartisan commissions to redraw their
district lines or had their lines drawn by the
courts. In the 2002 elections, 9 percent of
House contests in those states were decided by a
margin of less than 10 percentage points compared
with 8 percent in all other states. Of the 65
incumbents who ran for reelection in states who
districts were redrawn by the courts or
nonpartisan commissions, not one was defeated.
63
Does Redistricting Produce Uncompetitive
Elections?
  • Scholars argue that there is little evidence
    that redistricting generally makes elections less
    competitive.
  • Why? Because party leaders face a tension
    between incumbent protection on the one hand and
    the growth of the partys majority on the other.
  • In Texas, the GOP-controlled legislature shifted
    some Republican precincts out of the Tom DeLays
    district in order to make neighboring districts
    more Republican. As a result, DeLays own
    district is less assured.

64
http//www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-november-6-2
006/daily-show-rock----mid-term-elections
65
  • Voters are apathetic, turnout is low
  • A rigged and corrupt system ensures the
    reelection of incumbents
  • Midterm elections dont matter

66
Losses by the President's Party in Midterm
Elections, 1862-2010
67
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68
2006 Midterm Elections
The Democrats share of the two-party vote
nationwide increased by 5.6 percentage points
(52-44).
5 Democrats, 1 Independent (Lieberman, CT)
69
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70
It was a thumpin.
71
Eriksons Theories on Midterm Loss
  • Midterm loss as regression to the mean
  • Midterm loss as surge and decline
  • Midterm loss as a referendum on presidential
    performance
  • Midterm loss as a presidential penalty

72
Turnout in Presidential and Mid-Term Elections,
1980-2010
41.3
73
Eriksons Theories on Midterm Loss
  • Midterm loss as regression to the mean
  • Midterm loss as surge and decline
  • Midterm loss as a referendum on presidential
    performance
  • Midterm loss as a presidential penalty

74
Tufte Model
75
Tufte Model
76
Eriksons Theories on Midterm Loss
  • Midterm loss as regression to the mean
  • Midterm loss as surge and decline
  • Midterm loss as a referendum on presidential
    performance
  • Midterm loss as a presidential penalty

77
(No Transcript)
78
Trends in President George W. Bushs Job Approval
September 11 terrorist attacks
Start of Iraq War
Capture of Saddam Hussein
79
Forecasting Midterm Elections
  • http//adambrown.info/p/tools/house

80
2006 Midterm Elections
Virtually every public opinion measure available
since June 2006 points to a Category 4 or 5
hurricane gathering for the November
elections. Thomas E. Mann
  • Presidential job approval in the 30s
  • Congressional job approval in the 20s
  • A Democratic advantage in the generic vote of
    more than 10 percent
  • Percent of Americans who believe that the country
    is on the wrong track in the 60s
  • Decidedly negative assessment of the economys
    performance under president Bush
  • Double digit lead for the Democrats as the party
    trust to do a better job in dealing with the
    nations problems
  • Scandals and blunders preoccupy voters minds
    (e.g., Abramoff, Foley, Iraq, Katrina)
  • Women voters and evangelicals are more jaded now
    than in 2004.

81
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82
Can the Democrats Win?
  • Get women to the polls (Ellen Malcolm, president
    of EMILYs list)
  • If Republicans want to make national security the
    fulcrum of the debate, say Bring it on (Rahm
    Emanuel)
  • Competence sells. Tell the truth the war in bad,
    the Republicans are incompetent and uncaring
    (Howard Dean)
  • Run on the economy and Iraq. We want this battle
    (Stanley B. Greenberg)
  • Take risks. Avoid a were not as bad as they
    are campaign (Joe Trippi)

83
Can the Republicans Hold On?
  • The priority must be to restore Congresss
    credibility with the broader public and to
    restore with conservatives. Embrace reform
    (OBeirne and Lowry).
  • Avoid the temptation to hope for the best. Hope
    is the enemy (OBeirne and Lowry).
  • Stop ignoring the elephant in the room. Face up
    to Iraq (OBeirne and Lowry).
  • Fall back on fundamentals (Social Security is up,
    gas prices down)
  • Rally demoralized voters on Election Day.
  • Focus on local aspects of races, not national
    priorities. Allow incumbency to save seats.
  • The idiocy of the other side knows no bounds.
    Democrats may not present a viable alternative.
  • Distract attention away from retrospective
    assessments of government performance (e.g.,
    reminds voters of the continued threat of
    terrorist attack).

84
Privately, even GOP operatives concede that they
see minimum losses of perhaps 18 seats in the
House, with 25 to 30 a more likely outcome. In
the Senate, they see four seats likely to tip to
the Democrats PA, RI, MT, and OH. President
Bush and Karl Rove remain upbeat.
85
2006 Senate Elections
By defeating incumbents, the Democrats picked up
Senate seats in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Montana,
Ohio, Rhode Island, and Virginia.
86
Reelection Rates of House and Senate Incumbents,
1946-2006
87
  • Midterm elections dont matter
  • Voters are apathetic, turnout is low
  • A rigged and corrupt system ensures the
    reelection of incumbents

88
2010?
  • BAD NEWS According to CNN, favorability for
    Republicans currently stands at 36 to 54 for
    Democrats, 53 to 41.
  • GOOD NEWS According to Rasmussen, Republicans
    outscore Democrats on trust when it comes to
    key issues. (e.g., the economy, national security
    and the war on terror).
  • BAD NEWS According to NBC/WSJ, 46 prefer a
    Congress controlled by Democrats, compared to 38
    by Republicans.
  • BAD NEWS According to ABC/WP, on the generic
    ballot question, 51 prefer the Democratic
    candidate in their district, while 39 prefer the
    Republican candidate.

89
Losses by the President's Party in Midterm
Elections, 1862-2006
90
Confidence in American Institutions, 2011
"I am going to read you a list of institutions in
American society. Please tell me how much
confidence you, yourself, have in each one--a
great deal, quite a lot, some, or very little?"
Source CNN/USA Today/ Gallup poll, June 9-11,
2011.
91
Congressional Approval, 1974-2006
Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress
is handling its job?
Americans are far more favorable towards their
own member of Congress
92
Confidence in American Institutions, 2005
"I am going to read you a list of institutions in
American society. Please tell me how much
confidence you, yourself, have in each one--a
great deal, quite a lot, some, or very little?"
Confidence in Congress is comparatively low.
Source CNN/USA Today/ Gallup poll, May 23-26,
2005.
93
Trust in Government
  • Whats Wrong with Congress?
  • Congress It Doesnt Work. Lets Fix It.
  • Kick the Bums Out.
  • The Best Congress Money Can Buy.

Can the publics distrust of Congress be blamed
on the electoral system?
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Campaigning
Governing
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The Impact of Campaigning on Governing
Contemporary campaigning has made contemporary
government more difficult. Campaigns raise
public expectations about government at the same
time that they lower trust and confidence in
government. They emphasize personal
accomplishments in a system designed to curb the
exercise of institutional and political power.
They harden policy positions in a government
system that depends on compromise. They have
increasingly brought partisan and ideological
rhetoric into the policy-making arena where a
pragmatic approach and quiet diplomacy used to
get things done. And the candidates have
developed a public persona that they continue to
pursue once in office, a persona that can get in
the way of behind-the-scenes compromises on major
issues with which they have been
associated. Stephen J. Wayne, Is This Any Way
to Run a Democratic Election? (2001)
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Identifying Problems
  • Low public esteem for the institution of Congress
  • Uncompetitive elections that favor incumbents
  • Highly parochial, individualized, and fragmented
    politics
  • Pressure exerted through campaign contributions
  • Frequent elections lead to permanent campaigns
  • Campaigns focus on style over substance
  • Prioritize elections over public policy
  • Poor representation (e.g., lack minority
    candidates, etc.)
  • Incumbency advantage leads to long congressional
    careers
  • Partisan wars over redistricting
  • Policy gridlock
  • Limited ability to punish/reward the institution
    as a whole

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Finding Solutions
  • Replace partisan redistricting with non-partisan
    commissions
  • Enact term limits
  • Adopt longer terms in sync with presidential
    elections
  • Increase the size of the U.S. House of
    Representatives
  • Use proportional representation
  • Provide public financing of congressional
    campaigns
  • Encourage stronger parties that impose discipline
    and unity

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Questions
  • Are these solutions likely to address the root
    cause(s) of the problem?
  • What are the obstacles to effective reform?

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Rotation in Office
Washington, D.C. in the 19th century was
described as a swampy, mosquito-infested, rural
outpost.
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The Term Limits Amendment
  • Section A. No person shall serve in the office
    of U.S. Representative for more than three terms,
    but upon ratification of the Term Limits
    Amendment no person who has held the office of
    U.S. Representative or who then holds the office
    shall serve for more than two additional terms.
  • Section B. No person shall serve in the office
    of U.S. Senator for more than two terms, but upon
    ratification of the Term Limits Amendment no
    person who has held the office of U.S. Senator or
    who then holds the office shall serve more than
    one additional term.
  • Section C. This article shall have no time limit
    within which it must be ratified by the
    legislatures of three-fourths of the several
    States.

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Thereafter, within the first 100 days of the
104th Congress, we shall bring to the House Floor
the following bills, each to be given full and
open debate, each to be given a clear and fair
vote and each to be immediately available this
day for public inspection and scrutiny 10. THE
CITIZEN LEGISLATURE ACT A first-ever vote on
term limits to replace career politicians with
citizen legislators.
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Public Opinion on Term Limits
Respondents Yes No Total sample 61 21 By
party Republican 64 28 Democrat 60 30
Independent 58 33 By ideology Liberal
58 34 Moderate 64 30 Conservative
63 29 By race White 61 31
Black 61 27 By gender Men 57 35
Women 63 27
Do you think there should be a limit to the
number of times a member of the House of
Representatives can be elected to a two- year
term?
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Term Limits Good Idea!
  • Term limits are needed to increase electoral
    competition and counteract the political
    advantages of incumbents.
  • Restricting congressional tenure would produce a
    new breed of citizen- legislators, less aloof
    and more in tune with the day-to-day concerns of
    the people.
  • Ending careerism in Congress by bringing in new
    blood will change legislative behavior for the
    better. With new legislators come fresh ideas.
  • Term limits should be imposed because these laws
    have overwhelming public support.

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Term Limits Bad Idea!
  • We already have term limits. They're called
    elections.
  • Term limits are un-American. They deny citizens
    their foremost rightto choose who they would
    like to represent them in government.
  • Term limits fail to distinguish between
    legislators whose careers deserve to be cut short
    and those who deserve reelection.
  • The effectiveness of Congress would be impaired
    by term limits because representatives would have
    less time to acquire the on-the-job skills
    necessary for evaluating and implementing public
    policy.
  • While voters may support term limits in the
    abstract as a way to express frustration with the
    institution of Congress, most continue to defend
    the electoral success of their own member of
    Congress.

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The Citizen-Legislator
Joe the Plumber
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More Representative is Not Necessarily Better
If these reforms were put into place, would the
public suddenly love Congress? We do not think
so. Certain reforms, such as campaign finance
reform, may help, since they would diminish the
perception that money rules politics in
Washington. But the main reason the public is
disgruntled with Congress and with politics in
Washington is because they are dissatisfied with
the processes intrinsic to the operation of a
democratic political system - debates,
compromises, conflicting information,
inefficiency, and slowness. This argument may
seem odd on its face, so in the next few
paragraphs we provide our interpretation of why
the public questions the need for democratic
processes.
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