What is it about?

Legislators sometimes focus on making political points or grandstanding rather than making policy. Why do they take this approach, and what are they getting from political grandstanding? This paper demonstrates that US House representatives tended to gain higher vote shares in the following election when they increasingly made grandstanding remarks during their two-year term.

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Why is it important?

Previous studies assumed or argued that legislators grandstand in an expectation of gaining more votes in the following election, but this claim has not been studied systematically. This is the first study to empirically test this is really the case using legislators' "grandstanding score" measured based on what they said during congressional committee hearings in the past 20 years. The study further contrasts reactions from voters and donors. Interestingly, organized donors did not react to legislators’ political speeches but rewarded their legislative achievements instead. This raises concerns about how representative democracy works because legislators may represent organized interests when making policy while pleasing voters only by giving impressive, political speeches.

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This page is a summary of: Electoral rewards for political grandstanding, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2214697120.
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