Casework, issues, and voting in state legislative elections: A district analysis

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Congressional research has addressed questions regarding the electoral consequences of service and policy responsiveness, as well as whether service responsiveness eliminates the need for policy responsiveness. However, less is known about the criteria by which constituents reward their state representatives. Part of the problem with resolving these questions at the state level has been the absence of data, since individual-level data on state legislative districts are hard to find and are unlikely to combine measures of both kinds of responsiveness. This study utilizes data gathered in a particular state legislator's district (both data on actual member-constituent contacts and survey data) to discern more explicitly whether ombudsman service and constituent issue proximity to the incumbent affects vote choice. Our findings support the proposition that like their counterparts in Congress, state representatives prosper when paying attention to both service and policy responsiveness; however, we find convincing evidence that casework enables state legislators to gain support from constituents who otherwise would not vote for them.

Original Citation

Serra, G., & Pinney, N. (2004). Casework, issues, and voting in state legislative elections: A district analysis. Journal of Legislative Studies, 10(4), 32-46.