Compared to other democratic assemblies, the parties within it are weak. Often, the President and Congress are of opposing parties — further complicating issues of whom to hold accountable when things are going poorly and whom to reward when things go well.
Mayhew Mayhew builds his argument on the assumption that Congressmen motivated solely by the quest for reelection. He argues that there are three types of activities that Congressmen can engage in to aid in their electoral efforts: When Congressional policy-making is motivated by these factors, it creates predictable policy effects, including delay, particularism, servicing of the organized, symbolism, lack of interest in transfer programs, and a focus on blunt, simple laws.
Though the electoral quests or Congress threaten to cause it to lose its power, institutional maintenance is achieved through the three control committees in the House Rules, Appropriations, Ways and Means. These committees, which provide prestige to their members, arrange the agenda, guard the treasury, and put a damper on particularism.
Introduction In this book, Mayhew assumes that Congressmen are single-minded seekers of reelection. He believes that this assumption is valid because it 1 fits political reality well, 2 puts the spotlight on men rather than on parties or pressure groups, 3 politics are best studied as a struggle among men to gain and maintain power, and 4 the reelection quest establishes an accountability relationship with an electorate, and any serious thinking about democratic theory has to give a central place to the question of accountability.
Mayhew is interested looking at the effects of this motivation in the functions of legislating, overseeing the executive, expressing public opinion, and servicing constituents. Though he focuses primarily on the U. Congress, he says that a representative assembly legislature is defined by Loewenberg to include two things: The Electoral Incentive The aim of part one is to show what activities are electorally useful to Congressmen.
His argument hinges on the assumption that U. Congressmen are interested in getting reelected, so he begins by answering a few questions that this may raise.
Congress is a place where members wish to stay once they get there? Yes, turnover figures show that over the past century increasing proportions of members in any given Congress are holdovers from previous congresses. Congress is largely an assembly of professional politicians aiming to have political careers.
Yes, though there may be other goals, reelection underlies everything else if we expect relationship between politicians and public is one of accountability. Yes, in the United States, politicians rather than parties are the prime movers in electoral politics. He contrasts this situation with that for British M.
In Congress, 1 The way in which congressional candidates win party nominations is not one that fosters party cohesion in Congress — direct primaries, not party caucus or convention, 2 The typical American congressmen has to mobilize his own resources initially to win a nomination and then to win election, and 3 Congress does not have to sustain a cabinet, so party-loyalty has less reward.
It may seem that the minority subset of Congressmen who serve in marginal districts or states those evenly balanced between the parties would engage in more distinctive electoral activities. It is true that some people may vote on national partisan swings not on the performance of the individualbut Congressmen are not in a place to affect these votes.
They introduce more floor amendments and are generally more active. These Congressmen believe that they can affect their own percentages in primary and general elections, and they try to do so.
Though we focused on marginal Congressmen, non-marginal congressmen also try to affect their percentages in elections. This is in part because Congressional seats are not as safe as they seem — the typical congressman has had at least occasionally won a narrow victory.
Further, in the U. House elections only about a third of the variance is due to national swings; about half is unexplained and hence possible to control by Congressmen. Mayhew provides a brief conceptual treatment of the relation between congressmen and their electorates. Congressmen must be sure the resource balance favors himself rather than someone else, and should be aware of what groups might have sway in both primary and general elections.
Congressmen are not attempting to maximize their vote percentage in elections. The goal is to remain in office, not to win the entire popular vote.Nov 17, · Despite these potential problems and complications, Congress, according to David Mayhew, still performs remarkably well in representing the interests of its constituents and members.
(81) His book, Congress: The Electoral Connection, provides the theoretical framework to explain how Congress operates.
Mar 27, · Congress: The Electoral Connection By David R. Mayhew Mayhew builds his argument on the assumption that Congressmen motivated . David Mayhew's Congress: The Electoral Connection examines the activities of the individuals and the specifics of the institutions of the US House of Representatives, in an effort to determine the primary goals of House members elected to serve America and their constituents in the House/5(5).
provider. 98 A good example of Capitol Hill lore on electoral impact is given in this account of the activities of Congressman Frank Thompson, Jr. (D., N.J., 4th district): In , the 4th was altered drastically by redistricting; it lost Burlington County and gained Hunterdon, Warren, and Sussex.
He argues that the structure of Congress offers members the ability to pursue these activities; committees, staff, salaries and parties serve the electoral needs of all Congress members (Mayhew 7). In the United States, Congress members rather than parties are the ones who drive the electoral politics; in this process a lot of resources and time are put into the electoral connection.
Congress has become a professionalized institution, where members seek not to benefit the party but to build a professional career and advance in office; thus the prime goal becomes reelection.