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

The Quality of District Representation in U.S. House Committees

Josh M. Ryan, Department of Political Science, Utah State University, USA,
Suggested Citation
Josh M. Ryan (2023), "The Quality of District Representation in U.S. House Committees", Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy: Vol. 4: No. 1, pp 81-110.

Publication Date: 27 Feb 2023
© 2023 J. M. Ryan
Congress,  Legislatures,  Representation,  Lawmaking,  Political parties
House committee votingcongressional representationcommittee partisanshipinformational complexity


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In this article:
Roll Call Voting and District Representation 
Committee-Based Influences on Legislator Roll Call Voting 
Committee Roll Call Voting Behavior 
Incorporating Committee-Based Heterogeneity 
Varying Ideal Point Weights 
Measuring Committee Ideology, District Preferences, and Committee Heterogeneity 
Estimation Strategy for Predicting Committee Voting 
Leveraging Exogenously Imposed District Changes to Predict Committee Voting 
The Effect of District Partisanship on Committee Roll Call Voting 
Identifying District Effects on Committee Roll Call Voting Using Redistricting 
Committee Heterogeneity and Committee Roll Call Voting 
The Conditional Effect of Incumbent Vote Share 


How well do members of the House adhere to the preferences of their constituents within standing committees? Roll call voting behavior on the floor largely reflects district preferences, but voting in committees is not easily monitored by constituents. This may allow legislators to disregard constituent preferences without suffering electoral consequences. I use a dataset of individual committee votes to create Optimal Classification scores for legislators within committee-congresses. Two-way fixed effects estimates and a redistricting natural experiment show that members of the House are largely responsive to district preferences, but the quality of representation declines over time as the district changes. Representation quality is also conditioned by committee heterogeneity and electoral security. In committees where jurisdictional complexity is high and party preferences are outlying, legislators’ voting records diverge from the preferences of their district, though low incumbent vote share strengthens the relationship between district preferences and committee voting.