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Conventional wisdom has long suggested that legislators tend to "run against Congress," denigrating the institution in their rhetoric. Using a unique, systematic analysis of the communication from members of Congress to their constituents over a five-year period, Daniel Lipinski challenges this notion, showing key partisan differences in representatives' portrayals of Congressional activities. While those in the majority tend to report that the institution—hence, their party—is performing well, those in the minority are more likely to say that Congress is doing a poor job. These findings offer the first strong empirical evidence from the electoral arena supporting controversial party government theories. Moving beyond previous studies that look only at legislators' messages, Lipinski's research also reveals the effects that these politically strategic claims have on voters, whose interpretations don't necessarily lead to the legislators' intended outcomes.
"Lipinski's impressive analysis of members' communications with constituents yields major insights about partisanship, effects on reelection prospects, and constituent evaluations."
—Bruce Oppenheimer, Vanderbilt University
"In sum, Congressional Communication is a timely reminder of the dynamic nature of Congress and how members adapt to changing political contexts. This is not a "big" book in terms of its length or scope, but it is relevant to big questions of representation that are of perennial interest to legislative scholars."
—Linda L. Fowler, Dartmouth College