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Ambition in the House: Behavioral Consequences of Higher Office Goals Among U.S. Representatives

John R. Hibbing
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 30, No. 3 (Aug., 1986), pp. 651-665
DOI: 10.2307/2111094
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2111094
Page Count: 15
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Ambition in the House: Behavioral Consequences of Higher Office Goals Among U.S. Representatives
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Abstract

The central assumption of ambition theory, it has been said, is that a politician acts today in terms of the electorate he or she hopes to win tomorrow. I used data on the roll-call behavior of U.S. representatives who have decided to run for the Senate, to test this central assumption. The results indicate representatives with progressive ambition alter their roll call behavior as the election nears more than representatives who are running for reelection to the House. Moreover, among those representatives who are running for the Senate, I found the ideological and population differences between their House and (desired) Senate constituencies to be reasonably accurate predictors of the direction and size of the change in roll-call behavior. In other words, those who are trying to appeal to many new constituents generally change more than those who need to appeal to only a few (or no) new constituents. Finally, the direction of the behavioral change is generally consistent with the difference in the ideological predispositions of the two constituencies.

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