Do Republicans give their representatives more ideological slack?

I found this intriguing:

According to several years of nationally representative survey data, about two-thirds of Americans believe that elected representatives should “try their hardest to give the people what they want.” Remarkably, however, Republican voters are between 20 and 30 points less likely than their Democratic counterparts to agree. Moreover, people represented by a Republican member of Congress are almost 20 percentage points less likely to perceive their member as behaving that way, regardless of their own party identification.

It’s not as nefarious as it sounds. Republican voters, whether they consciously realize it or not, are more comfortable with what political scientists call “trustee-style representation,” whereby representatives use their own principled judgment when casting votes. In contrast, the “delegate style” binds legislators to constituent demands. Many Republicans — voters and lawmakers alike — cherish their principles more than they do the whims of a mostly uninformed and inattentive mass public.

…members of groups that comprise the Republican base seem especially averse to delegate-style public overtures. Even after taking account of other forces that might shape citizens’ views of lawmakers, we found that traditionalistic Christians are 23 points less likely than seculars to say that representatives should “give the people what they want.” Instead, they should “stick to their principles, no matter what the polls might say.”

…when Republicans think their representatives are getting soft, they try to hold them accountable. In surveys, we asked respondents to tell us not only what kind of representation they wanted but also the kind they thought they were actually getting. Democrats proved 23 points less supportive of their representatives when they perceived them paying too little attention to public opinion. In contrast, Republicans were up to 50 percentage points less supportive when they saw them paying too much attention.

Fourth, judging from legislative roll-call data since 1985, Republicans in Congress have been considerably less likely than Democrats to follow their constituents’ policy preferences — a tendency that has grown over time. We found that the ideological convergence between voters and legislators is more than three times greater among Democratic legislators than among Republicans.

There is yet more of interest at the link, from Monkey Cage, by David C. Barker and Christopher Jan Carman.


Sure, that's what a republic is all about. Those elected act on their own judgements. Otherwise a 100% democracy would make more sense. The rest of the post shows that Republicans are basically following the Democrat line, which might explain something about Trump's election.

114] "Sure, that’s what a republic is all about"

well, a republic is certainly not about Republicans & Democrats nor how their party members might perceive those elected.

A republic is a government with a restricted group of selected citizens wielding supreme political power over a society... usually under a charter directing the election of that ruling group and perhaps some theoretical limits on their power.

The factors determining who a citizen votes for are totally subjective by the individual. Likewise, perceptions of elected representatives and overall political party performance are subjective and diverse. Very unlikely that crude polling procedures accurately capture the diverse mood of grass roots Republicans/Democrats.

That ""...two-thirds of Americans believe that elected representatives should “try their hardest to give the people what they want.” "" ... is a meaningless (and laughable) pollster opinion on the current status of the American "republic".

How does this square with the observation that the detail oriented Democrats make better pols than broad principled Republicans? At least for presidents.

"Better pol" is in the eye of the beholder, but the broad principled Trump calls this assertion into question.

Not in the past 100 yrs. How far you going back?

Is that the Republicans giving their representatives more slack? It sounds like they want their elected representatives to believe in something. The Democrats don't want people with any principles except winning elections and being in power.

What is odd about that is that the Republicans used to be the party of ideological purity to some extent. But now the Democrats have overtaken them. Because they pander to their Twitter-lynch mob Left. So the Blue Dogs have been driven out of the party. There is more ideological diversity in the Republicans than in the Democrats now. Hell, there is more ideological diversity between Trump and any one member of the Congress than within the entire Democratic Party put together from what I can see.

"The Democrats don’t want people with any principles except winning elections and being in power."
Apparently they want to elect people who agree with them. I can not say I blame them. At least we do not read as many Democrats whinning about every important Democrat politician being a Democrat in name only as we read Republicans whinning about every Republican being a RINO. Both Trump candidacy and the Tea Party's foundations were the supposed fact mainstream Republicans were playing the Washington game instead of following Republican ideals.
"We found that the ideological convergence between voters and legislators is more than three times greater among Democratic legislators than among Republicans."
Unless voters are what you call "Twitter-lynch mob Left", I do not see the problem here.

In most other countries and parliamentary systems, it would make sense for the Republicans to splinter into at least 3 different parties. Susan Collin, Rand Paul and Jeff Sessions have little they actually agree on policy-wise, except opposing Dems and bowing to the same donors.

... and the Dems should splinter into about 8.

Instead, the Dems have an 8-point bullet-item list, where all pols must have the "correct" opinion on all of them, and very strongly so. If you do, you are in, and you will rise as far as they think they can market your particular tribal characteristics.

It doesn't matter if you are ancient, sickly, easily-confused felon with a penchant for bathroom servers - you are in for just as long as you Stick To The Bullet List.

Dems are relatively aligned, compared to Republicans. Look at some of the comments above. And it's not feigned. They have common policy views and there about as many of them as there are Republicans. On the other hand, Republicans are mainly united by hate for Dems more so than actual policy alignment and it's tough a way to get things done in the long-term. Case in point -- the struggles we see with Republican majorities in both houses and an R president, but almost no progress on policy. (To be fair, you can debate whether Trump is really an R -- his only true, long-held principles/beliefs are nativism, sexism, egoism and disregard for the truth. Everything else is negotiable.)

@Jan, the way I see it, young Democrats are increasingly "leftist" and unabashedly Marxist. These clueless children hate hate hate "the liberal establishment". Reap the whirlwind. The GOP has a similar problem with its own wrongheaded "victims".

Curiously, in both cases, the bellyachers are overwhelmingly white. Seems like white people used to be made of sterner stuff. Before victim culture took hold or before we became rich or something.

@Brian Donohue

You put your own children in a race to the bottom with the global poor for wages and global rich for housing and education, then harrumph because they reject your "principled conservatism?"

Remind me again what conservatism has actually conserved?

@AG, not so long ago (600 years), our ancestors were part of what was then the universal global poor, trailing Chinese civilization by a good bit and even Islamic civilization on a lot of measures.

Europeans were poor and hungry, and they ate the world. As recently as a century ago, the West looked down our nose at lazy orientals.

Now, China is complaining about hard to find American workers for their plants in this country. The worm is turning, and we are not the people our ancestors were.

Something about soft times making weak men maybe.

Re: the way I see it, young Democrats are increasingly “leftist” and unabashedly Marxist.

I have to disagree about the Marxism part. American Leftists show a remarkable lack of interest in class-based analysis and are known to disparage people who do. Everything in the modern Left comes down to Race and Gender. "Black Lives Matters" exists. There is no "Workers Lives Matter" movement,

No, it would not. Single-member constituencies and first-past-the-post promote aggregation.

Susan Collins resides in the tail of two bell curves. Members of the Senate who have a voting record closer to hers than they do to the Republican median numbered about three in the last Congress; the number closer to her than to the Democratic median numbered about 3. Of these six people, two were voted out of office last November, two are electorally insecure, and one is an intraparty dissenter for reasons fairly dissimilar to those of Susan Collins. The sensible center inspires no sensibility at all.

As for Rand Paul, we've a passable idea of what share of the Republican vote his sort accounts for: single digits, if that. His father set up a 'Liberty Caucus' in Congress. It had 7 members, 4 of whom refused to endorse his presidential campaigns.

It's odd. There is certainly more rhetorical conformity among Republican politicians. Obama had to be bad at everything, taxes are always bad, religion should have more role in public life, the government can't solve problems. Any breaking of those lines or a few other sacred ideas are taboo. While the liberal Twitter mob might be highly reflecive, but the actual Democratic politicians aren't, except maybe that Trump is dangerous? Though that's pretty much the median opinion of the entire world. Bush was certainly demonized by some Democrats, but also certainly not all elected Democrats.

You could maybe come up with an explanation that accounts for both. That if those few ideas strongly segregate 'us' Republicans from the 'other' Democrats, then once you accept the core tenets, the rest becomes easier to overlook.

The Republicans had 17 Presidential candidates for 2016. They chose the one not like the others after getting very little from the Republican House and then the Republican Senate. 2018 will be a good time to upgrade some of our Congressmen.

Keep reading the Amazon Post and you'll never get any smarter.

The Post does some of the best reporting during this fairly insane period of US politics. I do read lots of good stuff in the WSJ as well, but that's probably fake news or some such. Breitbart is good for shoveling horse excrement into one's own mouth, which a lot of people enjoy these days.

Point proven: Jan has clearly not gotten any smarter.

Thanks Rich!

Jim claps because his tribe is in power, but doesn't have the sense to realize they embarrass the country and themselves. And they are incapable of advancing any of the ideas they claim to believe in. Feckless, misguided and angry.

"embarrass the country" Baby steps in the right direction. Democrats have no place to complain, being the worst offenders.

Interesting how the term "tribe" became a derogatory adjective that doesn't describe political alliances in any meaningful way. Of course advocates of the jingoistic, all-powerful nation/state need terminology to denigrate its competitors. When "tribe" loses its rhetorical power will "family" take its place?

Of course, Republican voters prefer Republican candidates but not their actual policies, so it's not surprising Republicans voters aren't particularly impressed by the policies but support and rely on the Republican brand instead.

This I think aligns well with what we are seeing in the health care debate. None of the polls show more than 20% of the public supporting the Senate bill to replace the ACA.

In short, Democrats view themselves as "the people." Republicans see themselves as independent from "you people".

One other element, which I don't see was explicitly covered, is that most Republicans may be more likely believe their representatives shares their principles. They simply don't want their reps taking positions based on what "the people" want, because the people includes a lot of folks who don't share their views. Which would make sense, because in general self-identified Democrats are less likely to turn out to vote than Republicans, especially in mid-term elections.

The only information the public has on the Senate health bill is being supplied by the opposition left-wing media. Chances are no senator can actually explain another convoluted piece of legislation designed to satisfy intense lobbying efforts. Why should polls of the public be any more accurate now than they were before the last national election?

I do think there are about 10 to 15 Republican senators who understand what is in the health bill and the impact it would have, even if not all the details. If you read some of the comments made by the more engaged Republican senators after their meeting with Trump on the health bill this past week, it's clear he has no idea what's in it, even in broad strokes. He has no credibility to help broker a deal. He can have his PAC run negative ads against wavering R's, but I think that actually helps the moderates. He's toxic.

As to public perception, it's telling that Fox News, Breitbart and the other hard right, non-mainstream outlets aren't covering this proposed legislation. I think R's and their media allies understand that it is at the same time terrible policy and very unpopular. If I were the Donald Trump TV network, I sure as heck wouldn't be covering it either. On the other hand, libertarian outlets, such as Reason, small as they are, hate this bill and have not been afraid to say so in their coverage.

Polls of 2016 election were accurate. It is a huge misconception that they weren't. Final tally was within margin of error - a swing of about 2 points iirc. It's just that commentators refused to acknowledge possibility of a Hillary defeat and interpreted a consistent but small lead in polls as a 99% chance of victory. That's an issue of interpretation not with the actual polls themselves

Substitute the words "the people" with "our nation" or "the majority", then see what happens to the pattern...

"Give" is also a loaded word. Talking about "giving" people what they "want" tends to move the mind to giving people free stuff, not so much giving people the tax level they would prefer, etc.

True to their names.

What forces an individual into the "Republican voter" category? While I would generally *presume* it requires the voter to predominantly or always choose the Republican candidate, when available, it's not clear to me what the measure is here. I *suspect* that this isn't talking about Republican voters, rather is referring to voters who last voted for a particular set of Republicans.

I looked and couldn't tell either. Lots of ways to do this: to which party do they lean; which party did they most recently vote for (split tickets are tough); what's their party registration; how do they self identify; etc.

Some of you seem to have crafted a fine contradiction. Republicans like Republics, so they cleverly choose representatives that don't do what they want?

Why don't they just choose any random television personality, then.

How does this quote mean "less ideological"?
"they should “stick to their principles, no matter what the polls might say.”"

"Do Republicans give their representatives more ideological slack?" Perhaps you've used the wrong tense. Should it read "Did Republicans give their representatives more ideological slack before 2016"?

It seems to me that in the Presidential election the people who voted for the Republican candidate voted for radical change. The Democratic vote was for ... oh, who knows? Free stuff, treachery, and gangsterism?

Some mild humor here, mostly self-inflicted.

So they're saying Republicans are more likely to want a Republic-style government, and Democrats are more likely to want a Democratic-style government?

I'm shocked...

Maybe we should call each group of people by some logical name which would indicate this information to those who don't have time to read in-depth articles on it?

I read this as confirmation that the Republicans have a strong authoritarian streak.

And when Republicans say that elected officials should not cater to the whims of the majority that is just the Republicans recognizing that the majority does not support the policies Republicans want.

The humbug here is incredible!

It's impossible for a voter to want a representative not to do what the voter wants; the double negation should make that obvious. The only way it makes sense not to want politicians to do as people wish is wanting them to ignore the wishes of other voters.

I leave the conclusion as an exercise for the reader.

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