Constituent Perceptions of Representation Styles and Democratic Accountability

David C. Barker and Christopher Jan Carman

in Representing Red and Blue

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199796564
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199979714 | DOI:

Series: Series in Political Psychology

Constituent Perceptions of Representation Styles and Democratic Accountability

Show Summary Details


This chapter explores other ways that trustee-style representation preferences within constituencies could ultimately translate into trustee-style governing styles on the part of elected representatives (and vice versa). Using the same data from previous chapters, the chapter demonstrates that citizens who are represented by Republicans are more likely to say that their representative is a trustee, regardless of their own preferences regarding one or the other style. The chapter also explores matters of democratic accountability: does disappointment in a legislator's representation style translate into lower job-approval ratings (and thus job insecurity) for that representative? And is it worse for those representatives who are deemed not responsive enough, as opposed to those who are considered too responsive? Democratic theory answers both of these questions in the affirmative, and so do our empirical tests. However, Christian traditionalists (and Republicans) are much less likely to express disapproval toward a legislator who is perceived as nonresponsive than are secular progressives (and Democrats). This pattern suggests that trustee-style representatives are much less likely to suffer electoral defeat if they represent culturally Red districts than if they represent culturally Blue ones.

Keywords: representation style; congruence; democratic accountability; job approval; Members of Congress; Christian traditionalists

Chapter.  4360 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Psychology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.