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Chapter 11 - Chapter 11 Congress Balancing National Goals...

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Chapter 11- Congress: Balancing National Goals and Local Interests Congressional elections tend to have a strong local orientation and to favor incumbents Leadership in Congress is provided by party leaders, including the Speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader The work of Congress is done mainly through its committees and subcommittees, each of which has its separate leadership and policy jurisdiction Congress lacks the direction and organization required to provide consistent leadership on major national policies, but it is well organized to handle policies of relatively narrow scope Congress’s policymaking role based on three major functions: lawmaking, representation, and oversight Congress as a Career: Election to Congress Using Incumbency to Stay in Congress The Service Strategy Constituency: o The body of citizens eligible to vote in the incumbent’s state or district Pork-barrel projects o Refers to legislation that funds a special project for a particular locale
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Service strategy o Respond to constituents’ individual needs Congressional staffers spend most of their time on constituency service and public relations The Frank o Permitted to each member of Congress o Is several free mailings annually to constituent households Campaign Fund-Raising: Raking in the Money Elections are expensive because of the high cost of polling, televised advertising, and other modern techniques Incumbents’ past campaigns and constituent service enable them to develop mailing lists of potential contributors Open-Seat Election o A race without an incumbent Redistricting: Favorable Boundaries for House Incumbents Reapportionment: o Every ten years the 435 seats in the House of Representatives are reallocated among the states in proportion to their population Redistricting o Process of redrawing House election districts after reapportionment
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o Responsibility of state governments Gerrymandering o Process of dividing a state into districts of nearly equal size, and the party in power in the state legislature will draw the new district boundaries in ways that favor candidates of its party Pitfalls of Incumbency Disruptive Issues Voters can be angry about existing political conditions – more likely to believe that those in power should be tossed out of office Personal Misconduct Fall prey to scandal Influence peddling, sex scandals, and other forms of misconduct Turnout Variation: The Midterm Election Problem There is a drop-off in turnout in midterm elections People who vote only in the presidential election tend to: o have weaker party affiliation o more responsive to the issues of the moment The voters in midterm elections tend to vote along party lines Voters view national politics through their opinion of the president’s performance Strong Challengers: A Particular Problem for Senators
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Vulnerable to strong challengers
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