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The Impression of InfluenceLegislator Communication, Representation, and Democratic Accountability$
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Justin Grimmer, Sean J. Westwood, and Solomon Messing

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691162614

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691162614.001.0001

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Representation, Spending, and the Personal Vote

Representation, Spending, and the Personal Vote

(p.1) Chapter 1 Representation, Spending, and the Personal Vote
The Impression of Influence

Justin Grimmer

Sean J. Westwood

Solomon Messing

Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of how political representation occurs on government spending decisions—one of the most consequential powers of government. Political representation in Congress is, in large part, about how elected officials decide how to spend federal money. While a large literature analyzes how district expenditures affect support for congressional incumbents, it remains unclear how constituents hold legislators accountable for expenditures—how constituents attribute spending to legislators, how constituents evaluate those expenditures, and how constituents reward or punish legislators for spending on projects. One reason for this lack of clarity is that constituents are unlikely to learn about the projects on their own. However, constituents' inability to track spending is not an indictment of their democratic competence. Instead, it reflects the many activities representatives perform and the subtle ways that federal expenditures occur.

Keywords:   political representation, government spending, federal spending, democratic competence, federal expenditures

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