, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 377-389

Voters and roll call voting: The effect on congressional elections

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The subject of this research is whether ideological preferences play a major role in explaining voters' refusal to reelect some members of the U.S. House of Representatives. If ideological control is important, one would expect to find a large difference between the voting record of a rejected incumbent and his or her replacement. In distinction, whenever voters must replace a congressman or congresswoman because that person had died in office or chose to run for higher office, the hypothesis of ideological tracking implies that the newly elected member of Congress will resemble his or her predecessor. The data confirm these hypotheses and show, as well, that ideological control exists within parties and not only between them; that the degree of voters' ideological control is as great over senior congressmen and congresswomen as over junior ones; and that voters' concern about ideology has increased over the last two decades.