Evaluate the factors influencing a member of Congress to vote the way they do - OCR A2 F853 Government and Politics


Evaluate the factors that influence Congressional members to vote a certain way

In this essay I will assess the varying levels of importance of the main factors contributing influence to the way a congressional member votes. For example I will weigh up the factors such as party affiliation and pressure groups and, where relevant, the differing significance these factors have on the separate chambers of the American Congress.

Perhaps one of the most important factors influencing the way a congressional member votes is the “folks back home.” This factor is more significant in the House of Representatives as they are elected once every two years and are therefore held accountable on a more frequent basis in comparison to the Senate, who are elected once every 6 years. The voters in each congressional district are important because the congressional members, if not voting in a way that would best please the constituents, may not be re-elected for a second term. For example the LCV, who publish their “dirty dozen” list, show which way a congressional member has previously voted. This means that a member cannot hide what they have previously voted for. The House of Representatives, in Article 1, Section 2, Clause 2, is said to have members who are only eligible for election if they are an ‘inhabitant’ of the state they are intending to Represent. This is also true of the Senate. This is an important factor because members such as Elizabeth Dole have lost their Senatorial role. Dole, a Republican, lost hers because she only went to her state of North Carolina 13 times in total in her term. There was scrutiny for this because she had traveled to 12 states to promote George Bush in 2008 but she did not bother to visit her own state enough and pay attention to the wishes of the people resident there. More recently social media has come in to play significance in the communication between voter and congressional member. For example, in 1996 Congressional members each had a total of 90,000 emails and communications. This soared in 2004 to 350,000 each, which then increased to 313 million in total. This shows how increasingly influential and important this voter factor is on the way congressional members vote and how it may be the most important as if they were not sufficient in their fulfilling of the mandate by the people any other factors would be irrelevant as they would not be able to be carried out.

A further important factor, though perhaps, due to the lack of internal discipline, is that of the Party’s own influence. The importance of party affiliation is increasingly important due to the evident increase in partisan politics within Congress. This is clearly seen in Democrat Obama’s move towards the left with the Affordable Care Act 2010 and the Republican Tea Party’s strengthening the party’s move to the right. Furthermore, cases such as Manchin-Toomey show this partisan increase, as Republican’s overwhelmingly opposed it. Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial…


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