Public opinion and congressional representation

Cheryl Lyn Herrera, Richard Herrera, Eric R A N Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The political views of citizens should be reflected in the government of a democratic society. Typically, citizens' views are expressed by their elected representatives. We used the Center for Political Studies (CPS) 1986 National Election Study and a mail survey of the U.S. House of Representatives to look at representation collectively and dyadically. Collectively, we find some degree of congruence between leaders and followers. However, there are significant differences between them on half of the issue items, with the leaders usually taking more extreme positions than the followers. We looked at leaders and followers dyadically in 33 districts using Achen's measures of representation. We found that the representatives' views are fairly close to those of their constituents, that representatives are efficient at positioning themselves at the mean constituent position, and that representatives respond to shifts in liberalism/ conservatism in their districts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-205
Number of pages21
JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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