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The Structural Advantage David Mayhews Congress The Electoral Connection centers around one fundamental argument the ultimate goal of members in Congress is to be reelected Mayhew expands on this point by first describing the electoral activities that members partake in specifically advertising credit claiming and position taking He then argues that the structure of Congress itself allows members to actively pursue these electoral activities One significant feature of Mayhews book is that it was written in 1979 Mayhew makes a convincing argument complete with numerous examples but are his points still valid twenty years later The structural units of Congress that Mayhew mentions parties staff and committees serve the electoral needs of members The Congressional schedule something not mentioned by Mayhew helps members pursue electoral goals as well In fact evidence suggests that the structural units in Congress today are even more attuned to helping members pursue their electoral goals Part One Summary of The Electoral Connection Mayhews introduction to the book nicely sets up his overall argument Immediately he poses the question why do legislators do what they do There are several possible reasons One way of explaining their behavior is by examining sociology Mayhew points to the research of the 50s and 60s that abounded in terms like role norm system and socialization Mayhew 1979 1 There is also the economic explanation which makes assumptions about human motivation and then speculates on the consequences as humans in this case congressmen pursue what is in their interests Mayhews analysis will more closely follow the latter of the two explanations He will assume that congressmen are driven by their goal of getting reelected With this in mind he will first analyze how they go about getting reelected Then he discuss the repercussions of these tactics namely how congressmen who are so motivated by their own reelections go about building legislative institutions and making policy Two other questions that will be addressed
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