Political Science Now

Are Members of Congress Simply ‘Single-Minded Seekers of Re-election?

Are Members of Congress Simply ‘Single-Minded Seekers of Re-election? An Examination of Legislative Behavior in the 114th Congress

by Lisa HagerSouth Dakota State University

There is a substantial body of work in political science on how members of Congress pursue reelection and public policy; however, little is known about how legislators balance campaigning and governing during their term. Lisa Hager draws upon her experiences as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow in the 114th Congress to offer some perspective on how members of Congress balance their reelection and policy goals. Hager begins by summarizing her placement in the office of Representative Dan Lipinski (IL-3), a fellow political scientist and former APSA Fellow. Her essay continues by introducing political science research on the electoral policy goals of members of Congress. This research is then used as a framework to examine her work as a legislative staffer and present her perceptions of whether tradeoffs occur between reelection and policymaking. Her essay concludes by discussing the implications of legislators pursuing reelection and policy simultaneously and addressing directions for future research.

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PS: Political Science & Politics / Volume 51 / Issue 1 / January 2018