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Sample Essay on Congressional Elections

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Sample Essay on Congressional Elections

In the reading, a review is provided of what takes place in the United States congressional elections and its connection to the other aspects of American Political life. This is sorted out in three major dimensions; the congressional voters, the districts and the states as well as the Aggregate that explains the changes over time in mass representations. The reading enlarges the view on congressional systems by exploring legal and institutional contexts considered in the elections, the district-level theories, the individual voters’ concepts, the national – level hypotheses as well as the implications surrounding these theories for democratic governance. Most prominently, the reading considers ideas revolving around the incumbent advantage. In this respect, incumbents refer to a person holding a given office. In case of an election contest, these individuals usually posses the incumbent advantage, which makes them extremely difficult to beat in the elections. This is because incumbency gives these contestants substantial benefits, such as better name recognition, a track record of pork and casework, and privileges of congressional membership, like franking, which is the ability to mail letters to constituents for free. Over 90% of all the office bearers in most cases win reelection in House races. Essentially, challenging officeholders, especially one who has held a given office for a while, is a very difficult task. In his argument, Jacobson reiterates that, there is a clear linkage between the elections of the Congress, the politics and the performance of the institution. With the incumbency advantage, individual voters could be lured to vote in a low or non performing candidate into office.

Another idea inferred is the term limits for these congressmen and women. Opinion surveys typically find overwhelming majorities in favor of limiting legislative terms, and term-limit measures have passed in every state where they have been put up to a popular vote. Majorly, individual voters argue that these limits should not be left open to as many times as possible but to a limited duration in order to enhance democracy. They would probably make the parties much more important in the congressional elections and politics than they are presently. However, as much as the term limits exist for various offices including the office of the president, establishing these terms for the members of the Congress would require amendments in the Constitution. In a different view, these term limits would have most profound effects on the mass representation by diminishing members’ opportunities and incentives of developing stronger ties with their constituents. 

Most incumbency advantage has long grown since the 1960s as recorded in historical accounts. This was attributed to the abrupt increase in the quality effects than the direct effects. Much of the public resources increased between the 1960s and 1970s, which provided the incumbents with access to more privilege and finances used to manipulate the voters. With this in mind however, the question as to how would the inevitable conflicts that would arise in the Congress standings’ attempt to formulate public policies has not been fully addressed. This would be best posed as a challenge to the policy makers as what strategies they would employ to curb the looming conflicts within the Congress. Historically, most of the decisions were collective and in favor of the larger society, but with rise in the urge for more might and supremacy in the government systems, the majorities have dominated the standings pushing for policies directed to their advantage.

As per the narrative, the political parties are the most important addition made to the institutional frameworks. Rules and institutions are consciously made and shaped by political dynamics to help them accomplish their individual interests and goals. Although in the short view it seems that the formal framework establishes a set of independent parameters to which political actors are forced to adapt, it does not. Rather, the framework itself reflects the values and preferences prevalent among politically active citizens, and it changes as those values and preferences change. This discourse of the legal and institutional model of congressional elections has inevitably been brief; fulfilling all the details that would demand intensities. But it is sufficient to point out some of the very significant ways in which reference to the formal context is required to account for the activities of candidates, voters, and other participants in congressional elections.

The said classes and instances do not begin to exhaust the hypotheses, but are adequate in making the assertion that politically applicable conditions alter tremendously across various nations and districts and are such a vital source of sectionalism and idiosyncrasy in the electoral politics of Congress. For each contestant in the congressional election, a winning strategies as well as continuous maintenance of their respective voters’ support are on top of their priorities; nonetheless, no common formula has been devised yet. Nor is it surprising that candidates try to nurture an image of independence. However, recognition of the heterogeneity among states and districts cannot explain why political fragmentation and independence increased during the 1960s and 1970s, or why it has diminished so much since then.


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