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The Nature of Congressional Representation

Monday, November 9, 2015
12:15pm – 1:30pm

Storrs Campus
Oak Hall Room 438

Colloquium Event

The Nature of Congressional Representation in an Era of Polarization

Brian Schaffner University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Monday, November 9 12:15pm-1:30pm Oak 438

About the Event: With the increasing polarization in Congress, policy representation is almost entirely defined by whether one's member of Congress shares her party affiliation. In such an environment, how do citizens who are in the minority in their congressional districts assess their representatives? In this talk, I describe work from two working papers to show that legislators are still able to win support from some constituents of the opposite party. I then shift attention to investigating whether citizens assess their representatives based on more than just how well they are personally represented. I show that while individuals mostly draw on individual self-interest when evaluating their representatives, they do appear to account for the broader interests of their district as well. This insight points to a broader view of representation than typical dyadic models presume.

About the Speaker: Brian Schaffner is Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a faculty associate at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University. His research focuses on public opinion, campaigns and elections, political parties, and legislative politics. He is the co-author of the book Campaign Finance and Political Polarization: When Purists Prevail, co-editor of the book Winning with Words: The Origins & Impact of Political Framing, co-author of Understanding Political Science Research Methods: The Challenge of Inference and author of Politics, Parties and Elections in America (7th edition). His research has appeared in over thirty journal articles and has received over $2 million in external funding. He is also the Founding Director of the UMass Poll and a co-PI for the Cooperative Congressional Election Study.

This event is hosted by the Department of Political Science


Prof. Vin Moscardelli (

Political Science (primary), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, UConn Master Calendar

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