Service Impacts On Elections Essay

2307 words - 10 pages

This literature review seeks to provide how constituency service has impacted the outcomes of elections. According to Fenno, he states that a sitting congressman told him “What political scientist have to understand is that incumbent congressmen can get reelected by the services he is in a position to do for people” Legislators make choices about getting reelected and the choice of service versus policy is one of them. The service-policy divide is consequently an important theoretical lens through which legislative behavior can be viewed, and it suggests several potential hypotheses. It is hypothesized that most scholars believe that the increasing levels of constituency service have given ...view middle of the document...

The focus of the study was on Legislators’ home styles in relation to service versus policy. The study provides insights that assist us in developing models to determine whether legislators prioritize service over policy in their responses to constituent mail. Three specific points were addressed. First, that service allows legislators the opportunity to develop an image of helpfulness, sympathy and hard work. Second, how legislators may truly feel that they have a duty to assist constituents when they have questions in regards to government. Lastly, how service may be a method for defending local interest or pleasing local activist by solving problems of special interest. The article stated that the concern was not that legislators are providing service, but the image they portray to voters. In comparison the article by Adler, Gent, and Overmeyer (1998) states that there is a distinguished exception that examines whether legislator’s characteristics moderate how much members of Congress mention constituency service on their website. Their home style might intentionally eliminate policy because they care much more about their own policy views than about the policy views of constituents (Jacobs and Shapiro 2000). An article by Bone (2014) states that representatives and political scientist understand the importance of constituent service and they have long acknowledged that representatives develop a “home style” distinct from the members style they employ within the legislature. However, constituent service has escaped the attention from legal scholars and judges. Bone argues that election law scholars and judges should take constituent service more seriously because then courts can prevent legislators from weakening the political competition.
The results of this study showed that when given an equal opportunity to communicate about service and policy, both state and federal legislative officers are more concern about service request as opposed to policy request. The results also indicated that the federal level Democrats prioritized service over policy. However, it has not been determined that these representatives prioritize service purely for the purpose of gaining leeway in elections. If indeed legislators privilege service over policy, then they would find it difficult for constituents to hold them accountable on issues. The evidence strongly states that legislators do prioritize in that exact way. However, the legislators who are new or who have not served for a long period of time might put more effort into service than those veteran legislators. According to Ashworth and Bueno de Mesquita (2004) house members do more constituency service today, more than they did forty years ago which has caused an increased in incumbency advantage. In contrast, Bone (2014) states that it is not clear that seniority actually leads to a greater awareness of distinct interest. In fact, political scientists have often determined that veteran...

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