Page, Shapiro, Gronke et al. – 1984 – Constituency, Party, and Representation in Congress


Using congressional districts as primary sampling units, the 1978 National Elec- tion Survey provides improved (though still imperfect) measures of district opinion. To- gether with Census data on district demography, roll call voting scales, and information on congressmen’s party and personal characteristics, they permit a new examination of repre- sentation in Congress. Using these data we found a high degree of representation of district opinion on social welfare and (surprisingly) on women’s issues, nearly as much on racial issues, and much less on law and order or on abortion. District demography and congress- men’s party add substantially to the explanation of roll call votes. There is not, however, much “responsible party” representation in Congress. Future representation studies must face questions about the complex interplay among these factors, including reciprocal influences.