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date: 18 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

We examine the history of political representation in the United States using a multi-stage statistical analysis of the changing relationship between roll call votes in the US House of Representatives and the preferences of citizens (as measured by presidential votes). We show that members of Congress have become considerably more responsive to constituents’ preferences over the past 40 years, reversing a half-century drought in responsiveness stemming from the South’s one-party Jim Crow era. However, the House as a whole has become less representative, veering too far left when Democrats are in the majority and too far right when Republicans are.

Keywords: political representation, political ideology, congruence, electoral responsiveness, incumbent responsiveness, partisan polarization, Jim Crow era, US House of Representatives

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