Mayhew Analysis Paper
In the book, Congress: The Electoral Connection, David Mayhew addresses his opinion about the political system, and centralizes his argument on the assumption that the only intent a member of Congress has is reelection. The bulk of his argument is the behavior by the members of Congress involving advertising, credit claiming, and position taking, which we discussed in class. Mayhew believes that these actions by the incumbent congressmen illustrate that they are more worried about keeping their seat, than anything else.
The first election activity mentioned in the book is advertising, which is defined by Mayhew as: “any effort to disseminate one’s name among constituents in such a fashion as to create a favorable image but having little or no issue content,” (49). By spending money on advertisement, the house incumbent has a sizeable advantage over their opponent. Mayhew’s distaste for this tactic comes from the sole purpose that most of it is done while the congressmen are in office. In my opinion, I feel that Mayhew thinks of congressional elections as more of a popularity contest based on this statement, “There are standard routines—frequent visits to the constituency, nonpolitical speeches to home audiences, the sending out of care booklets and letters of condolence and congratulation,” (50). Mayhew realizes this is an unprincipled manner to get reelected, but it will not stop and congressmen will continue to take advantage of advertising anyway possible.
The second behavioral motive Mayhew discusses in the book is credit claiming. This allows the incumbent to take credit for government accomplishments and look good to the constituents. The credit claiming tactic allows for a member of Congress to stick out as an individual rather than affiliated with a particular party. In order to do so, like we discussed in class, the congressmen must provide assets to the constituents that they can take absolute credit for. Mayhew...
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