Congressional Campaigns

Tracy Sulkin

in The Oxford Handbook of the American Congress

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199559947
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

 Congressional Campaigns

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Congressional campaigns are central to democratic governance. They are deemed as the “place where the representative form of government begins and ends” and they serve as institutional mechanisms for interactions between legislators and their constituents. While legislative scholars have long been interested in the dynamics of congressional campaigns, the field is still a largely untilled area compared to other studies. While public knowledge on the legislators as casters of roll-call votes, as members of the committee, and as introducers and cosponsors of legislations is vast and extensive, their activities as campaigners was less known about. Luckily, in the past decade, there has been increased attention given the subject. Studies on the representatives' and senators' campaign experiences and behavior lend sight into the different aspects of quality of campaign and the health of the democratic process. Studies on congressional campaigns provide insight on the information provided by the congressional campaigns to the voters; the assumed advantages of incumbent and of quality challengers compared to inexperienced politicians in terms of holding successful campaigns; and the sincerity or the lack of sincerity (cheap talk) of campaigners in their campaigns. Less obviously, but equally important, evaluation of congressional campaigns provides a rich and nuanced view of legislators' behavior in Washington. Their campaigns give perspective on their strategies and priorities, elucidate on the amount and extent of their activities in the office, and provide a broader conception on electoral connection. This article discusses current knowledge on these topics. It also highlights areas that are ripe for further research.

Keywords: congressional campaigns; campaigns; legislators; campaign experiences; campaign behavior; campaigners

Article.  11471 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Institutions

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