Representation, Competing Principals, and Waffling on Bills in U.S. Legislatures, with Jeffrey J. Harden

Abstract: Legislators are often placed in the position of representing the interests of their constituents against the preferences of their own party leaders. We develop a theoretical framework indicating that these cross-pressured legislators are more likely to initially support legislation and subsequently change their minds than are legislators whose constituents and leaders share similar preferences. Moreover, we expect this pattern to be most pronounced among members of majority parties than minority party members. We test our expectations using data on bill cosponsorship and final passage votes from 46 lower state legislative chambers and the U.S. House, finding considerable support for our theory.

Published: Forthcoming at Legislative Studies Quarterly. Find a pre-publication version here.

Find the supplemental appendix here.

Find the replication materials here.