Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I say who wrote them.
Arnold. 1990. The logic of Congressional action.
Members of Congress (MCs) want to provide policies with concentrated benefits and diffuse costs, but voters want policies with diffuse benefits (and perhaps concentrated costs). The purpose of this book: What makes us move from one to the other?
Legislators estimate the political consequences of their voting decisions, taking into account both (1) the degree to which the particular issue is (at least potentially) salient to a large number of voters and (2) the availability of talented coalition leaders who can use strategies to help legislators receive credit for diffuse policy benefits.
Main variable: Strategies of procedure (explained below). Provide diffuse benefits without having your fingers on the concentrated costs.
Uses Mayhew's reelection assumption to show how Congress passes politically difficult policies. Mayhew's analysis created the puzzle (how does Congress overcome common pool resource problems), Arnold attmempted to solve it it.
MC's (Members of Congress) care intensely about reelection, although they are not single-minded reelection seekers. When they have to make a decision, they first ask which policy alternative contributes more to their chances of reelection. (If they do not see any difference, they base their choice on any other relevant criteria.)
To reach a decision, MCs have to identify all attentive and inattentive publics who might care about a policy; estimate the direction and the intensity of their preferences and potential preferences; estimate the probability that the potential preferences will be transformed into real preferences; weight all these preferences according to the size of the various attentive and inattentive publics; and finally give special weight to the preferences of the legislator's consistent supporters.
Citizens express their views at the ballot box either prospectively (based on issue platforms) or retrospectively (based on perceived outcomes). When making their prospective or retrospective judgments, some voters focus on party while others focus on candidates.
Informed citizens have preferences, while uninformed citizens have only potential preferences. The probability that preferences will matter depends on four factors:
Coalition leaders (either MCs or outside activists) adopt strategies for enacting their policy proposals by anticipating legislators' electoral calculations, which in turn requires that they think about citizen preferences the way MCs do. Coalition leaders select a strategy (from the list below) in an effort to convince MCs to vote for a particular policy.
Research on similar subjects