The policy origins of congressional approval

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Abstract

It is widely presumed that political support is contingent on satisfaction with the policy decisions made by political authorities. Yet, there is little evidence that support for the nation's chief legislative branch is a function of its policy outputs. This research shows that Congress' approval ratings are linked to the degree important legislation deviates from the public's ideological mood. The results of an error-correction model show that these policy origins of support are as important as other determinants of approval such as partisan conflict and the economy. The effect of policy divergence from public opinion is also accentuated during periods of unified government when there might be a normative expectation that shared partisan control should translate into policy success. The findings substantiate conventional wisdom regarding the relationship between congressional approval and policy, spatial theories of voting, and models of the electoral behavior of congressional members.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-209
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Politics
Volume75
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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