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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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Solving the Representative’s Problem and Creating the Representative’s Opportunity

Solving the Representative’s Problem and Creating the Representative’s Opportunity

(p.15) Chapter 2 Solving the Representative’s Problem and Creating the Representative’s Opportunity
The Impression of Influence

Justin Grimmer

Sean J. Westwood

Solomon Messing

Princeton University Press

This chapter explains when strategic legislators will associate themselves with spending and how constituents are likely to allocate credit in response to legislators' credit claiming messages. The complicated appropriations process makes it nearly impossible for constituents, on their own, to track their legislators' activities. This complexity creates a need for legislators to explain their work to constituents. Reelection-oriented legislators face a trade-off between adopting a nonpartisan reputation as an effective advocate for the district or cultivating an image as a partisan who effectively advocates for their party. As a result, who legislators represent affects how legislators balance these considerations in their public messages. Constituents are responsive to legislators' credit claiming efforts, but lack both the context and the information necessary to be responsive to the amount legislators claim credit for securing. Instead, constituents will seize on information they are better equipped to evaluate: the action legislators report, the recipient of the expenditure, and the purported benefits.

Keywords:   spending, credit, legislators, nonpartisan reputation, partisan reputation, credit claiming messages

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