Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy > Vol 4 > Issue 1

Different Rules, Different Legislators? Direct and Indirect Elections to the U.S. Congress

Joel Sievert, Department of Political Science, Texas Tech University, USA,
Suggested Citation
Joel Sievert (2023), "Different Rules, Different Legislators? Direct and Indirect Elections to the U.S. Congress", Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy: Vol. 4: No. 1, pp 29-50.

Publication Date: 27 Feb 2023
© 2023 J. Sievert
Elections: Electoral institutions,  Legislatures: Lawmaking,  American political development,  Congress,  Electoral institutions,  Legislatures,  Political history,  Representation
Congressinstitutional developmentelectionselectoral reform


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In this article:
Electoral Institutions and Legislator Selection 
Legislators and Indirect Elections 
Research Design 
Data and Analysis 


I examine whether indirect and direct elections lead to the selection of different types of legislators. My research design, which compares senators to representatives who were elected from statewide districts, takes advantage of two unique features of the nineteenth century congressional districting process. First, some states elected their entire congressional delegation in at-large districts. Second, many states that gained a seat during reapportionment would elect the new representative in a statewide contest rather than redrawing district lines. As a result, there are not only more representatives elected statewide, but they also come from a more diverse set of states than in contemporary elections. Overall, I find that indirectly elected legislators were more comparable to directly elected legislators on some dimensions than prior studies suggest.