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This book explores how legislators respond to their electoral challengers' critiques. The conventional wisdom is that winners ignore their challengers, but Sulkin shows that their campaigns have a lasting legacy in the content of legislators' behavior in office.
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"This book is a major contribution to the study of Congress and, more generally, to the fields of legislative studies and American politics. It is rigorously organized, well-written, and thorough. With this book, Sulkin unifies the work on congressional elections with work on Congress as an institution, as she links the study of congressional campaigns to the study of agenda-setting and participation in Congress." Gerald Gamm, University of Rochester
"...Tracy Sulkin's Issue Politics in Congress...is a strikingly, refreshingly original work. It's probably the best book on legislative representation in decades and one of the best books on Congress in recent memory. Sulkin identifies a feature of representation mostly missed in the voluminous literature on the subject, what she calls "issue uptake." Issue uptake occurs when, in response to the criticisms of her challenger, the reelected incumbent changes her legislative agendas in the ensuing congress. Sulkin's account of legislators' uptake level is smart, focusing on the psychology of issue attention and, more prominently, the strategic considerations of incumbents contemplating running the next time round. The empirical analysis of the book employs data on a variety of legislators' activities, including both cross-sectional and over time data, from both House and Senate. The results are rich and almost always compelling. But it's the larger implications of the book that make it exciting scholarship. It is unusual in that it connects, systematically rather than speculatively, the electoral and the legislative arenas. It shows us that campaigns matter, even if they don't actually affect who gets elected to Congress. Campaigns matter even if incumbents get reelected time after time. And challengers matter . . . Issue Politics in Congress will be an important book for a long time to come." Richard Hall, University of Michigan
“This important study provides fresh understanding of national legislators' responsiveness to their constituents mediated through an unusual channel. A necessary read for congressional scholars. Highly recommended.”
"This book immediately places "issue uptake" on the list of concepts that all students of Congressional politics and electoral behavior need to know. Through sophisticated data analysis and telling examples, Sulkin explains why legislators adopt the agendas of their challengers, when they do so most vigorously, and what the payoffs are for theirs careers and for legislative representation. She adds a subtle yet critical piece to our disciplineas account of how campaigns influence policy." Thad Kousser, University of California, San Diego
"....Tracy Sulkin examines legislators' actions on their own and on their opponents' campaign issues and in doing so provides new and important insights into the ways in which campaigns affect governing and incumbents use their opportunities in office to secure their reelection....this book is exploratory....Issue Politics in Congress will be a substantial contribution to the literature because it goes to the core of the nature of republican democracy....It is an extremely creative and meticulous empirical approach to studying representation..."
--Eric S. Heberlig, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, Political Science Quarterly
Tracy Sulkin is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She received her PhD from the University of Washington in 2002. Her work has appeared in the American Political Science Review, Political Analysis, American Politics Research, and Political Psychology. This book is based on her dissertation, which won APSA's Schattschneider Award in 2003.
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