Because You Know I’m all about the Base, No Trouble: Legislator Opinion Formation and Constituency Congruence at the State Level

by Nathan Parsons

Much research in the field of Political Science has been done on the interplay between legislators and public opinion. Little research has been performed on determining how individual legislators form and change their particular political stances with regard to constituent pressure. How do legislators form political opinions? Are they merely guided by ideology and the leanings of their legislative peers? Are they swayed by media reporting? Can constituents influence policy from a grass-roots level? The vast majority of the work done in this area has been performed at the national level. What might we learn from studying these forces at the level of state legislator? In this paper, we will undertake to answer some of these questions, specifically, how legislators tend to form legislative opinions and the degrees to which and manner in which they are susceptible to constituent influence.


This analysis is focused on the way in which state-level legislators understand and reflect the views of their individual constituencies on public policy. There is a wide body of literature on collective representation, or the level to which the actions of legislative bodies are congruent with the opinions of their constituencies (Weissberg 1978). The body of scholarship on dyadic representation, or the degree to which and ways that individual legislators represent the interests of their specific personal constituencies, is much smaller. (Miller and Stokes 1963) There are a number of reasons for this lack of academic interest. Foremost among these is simply the difficulty that researchers encounter in finding data that reflects the views of small-scale constituencies on matters of public policy. This difficulty is magnified at the state and local level. National polls are widely available on any range of issues, but they are more interested in achieving a representative sample of views across political identification. This macro-level focus on partisan distinction makes analysis of distinct constituencies impossible. Polling is expensive and time consuming, necessitating resources not largely available to state and local politicians. Academic research on the views of bounded constituencies is similarly hampered by both cost and methodological concerns. (Uslaner and Weber 1979)

These limitations on data availability lend weight towards analyses of legislative bodies from the theoretical framework of collective representation. Dyadic representation necessitates a micro-level approach in order to determine the interaction between individual politicians actions and the views of the constituents within their respective political districts. Given the paucity of available data on constituent specific views, how are researchers to undertake an analysis of the congruence between the views of legislators and their constituents?

Legislator Perception           

One approach has been to attempt to understand how legislators themselves conceptualize their own constituencies. In his seminal work, Home Style: House Members in Their Districts, Richard Fenno utilized participant observation and ethnomethodolical practices in order to conceptualize how various members of the U.S House of Representatives formulate, understand, and represent their various constituencies. (1978) Over the course of eight years, Fenno developed an understanding of the way in which members of congress presented themselves to their home districts grounded in Goffman’s theories of the everyday presentation of self. More crucial to this analysis, however, are Fenno’s insights into the way that congressional representatives come to view their districts (as opposed to the way in which they are viewed by their districts).

Fenno argued that legislators conceptualize their districts as four nested concentric circles. Each circle represents a smaller slice of an individual legislator’s constituency and is more personally familiar to the elected individual. The first of the four circles is perhaps the most familiar to the student of Political Science: geographical. The geographical constituency is comprised of the demographic nature of an individual member’s district. Socioeconomic variables, political ideology, ethnicity, residential patterns, religion, partisanship, stability, and diversity are some of the variables that constitute the geographical constituency. Because this data is the most readily measurable for pollsters and political scientists, the geographical constituency tends to most commonly identified with a member’s ‘district’. Fenno is quick to tell us that this is the least meaningful conceptualization for elected officials. The kind of sanitized data that demographics provide does not provide people seeking political office with the kind of information necessary for political campaigns. Rather, this kind of information represents a kind of ‘prepolitical description’, in that it does not readily translate to specific political issues. Certain constituent interests or ideological leanings may be derived from this level of analysis, but constituent leanings on specific political matters remain opaque. (Fenno 1978:2–5) Instead, we should think more about what the data tells us about the relative homogeneity or heterogeneity of a particular district, as this is the kind of information that tells the elected official the manner in which they should represent themselves. (1978:5) Relative district homogeneity or heterogeneity may influence legislator voting patterns – not from an ideological basis, but because a legislator may feel more or less secure in voting along certain ideological lines based on his or her feeling about the make up of his or her district.

Fenno’s second circle is that of the legislator’s perceived supporters: the reelection constituency. These are the supporters that the legislator feels will support their next reelection bid. This is a purely political division that manifests along two axes: a cross-sectional axis that determines the upper and lower bounds of probable supporters within a given constituency and a longitudinal axis of changes within a given district over time. (Fenno 1978:8–9) This constituency is uncertain and amorphous; legislators cannot be sure that they will not experience a challenge from within their own party or that their reelection constituency will not shift ideologically over time.

The next smallest circle is that of the ‘primary constituency’. Elected officials divide their reelection constituency into ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ supporters. The constituents that comprise the primary constituency are those voters that the legislator can feel reliably sure will support their next election bid. Legislators feel a special connection with this voter bloc – a connection that moves both ways. The elected official feels that he or she shares a special ideological bond with this segment of their constituency, a bond that potential challengers would be unable to disrupt. This understanding is largely reciprocated as the legislator will receive the bulk of their financial support and the majority of their campaign volunteers from this circle. (Fenno 1978:18)

Finally, Fenno highlights the ‘personal constituency’ or those constituents that comprise the legislator’s ‘inner circle’. These can be large contributors, close political consultants, business associates, or long-time friends. For Fenno, these are the few individuals whose relationship with the legislator is so personal and so intimate that their relevance cannot be captured under the moniker “very strongest supporter”, rather, they are the official’s closest and most trusted friends. (1978:27–28)

Fenno’s concentric circle model complicates the traditional legislator/constituency congruence dichotomy. Rather than an understanding based upon a “trustee” (legislator that exercises independent judgment in the interests of the electorate) or “delegate” (a legislator that follows the wishes of their constituency) typology, Fenno offers that elected officials harbor variegated and nuanced views of their constituencies and asks us to consider which constituency may be at issue with regard to different aspects of public policy. (1978:27–28)

Information Theory

Uslaner and Weber offer a quantitative alternative to Fenno’s perception model. Undertaking a national survey of state legislators in 1974, Uslaner and Weber sought to understand the role of the constituency in shaping legislator opinions. Four alternative explanations for divergence were tested. A “poorly informed elite” would indicate that legislatures, particularly at the state level, simply do not have the resources in order to fully understand the wishes of the electorate. An “isolated elite” would tell us that legislators simply do not care to understand the opinions of the electorate. The “uninformed electorate” model posits that legislators are able to formulate a picture of the preferences of the electorate, but that they understand the electorate’s policy preferences to be made from a place of ignorance or misinformation. Finally, an “electoral security” model would indicate that legislators in ‘safe’ or uncontested districts would feel freed from the need to vote according to the preferences of the electorate. (Uslaner and Weber 1979)

Uslaner and Weber found statistical support for their “poorly informed elite” model. Especially at the state level, low correspondence between the views of political actors and constituents on matters of public policy were a consequence of an inability of elected officials to properly understand the wishes of their electorate. It may be noted that Uslaner and Weber undertook their analysis in the late 1970s, before the modern era of swift digital communication. However, this fact should not dissuade researchers from attempting to gauge the level of ambivalence in the modern politician for learning the preference of the electorate. Uslaner and Weber’s finding may still stand even in today’s internet age.

Issue Salience

Fenno touches upon the idea of issue salience very briefly, explaining that expanse of coverage or of consequence created by a political issue may effect the way in which a given legislator is willing to allot that issue energy. Issue salience is a difficult theoretical concept to quantify or measure. Scholars of issue salience encounter difficulty in understanding the amount of sway that the relative level of contention a given issue may exert upon legislators. In order to solve this problem, some scholars have attempted to utilize various levels of media coverage in order to understand the power that issue salience might exert within the political arena.

Epstein and Segal put this technique towards an analysis of issue salience and its effect upon Supreme Court justices. They distinguish between retrospective salience (understanding the importance of a past issue in hindsight) and contemporary salience (understanding the importance of an issue at the time). However, this kind of analysis tends towards the tautological and offers little to assist in the present inquiry. Either a legislator understands that an issue is important or they do not – issue salience theory offers little by the way of understanding in how legislators make these kind of distinctions. (Epstein and Segal 2000) Mustafaraj et al. take steps towards bringing the notion of issue salience into the digital age, but this field of study remains far from useful. (2011)


In order to more fully understand the nature of congruence between legislator opinion and constituent influence, we will turn to an examination of two bills that came before the Oregon Senate during the 2015 Legislative Session. Both bills address issues of public safety and individual liberties; both bills possessed overwhelming state-wide public support but were opposed by extremely vocal minorities. One bill was pulled from consideration by its chief sponsor, and the other was signed into law a month and a half after it was proposed.

Both houses of the Oregon legislature during the 2015 session were held by the Democratic party. A Democratic governor ensured that legislation passed by this Democratic Super-majority would readily be signed into law. In theory, the Democrats in the Oregon Legislature could simply pass through any and all legislative priorities that they possessed. In this environment, a comparison of SB 442 and SB 941 will hopefully give us insight into the nature of constituent influence over individual legislators.

Removing the religious exemption for vaccination

Data for the 2014 school year indicated that Oregon’s vaccination rate among enrolling primary students was one of the lowest in the nation. (Foden-Vencil 2015) A reinvigoration of the anti-vaccination movement in the 1990s brought together strands of anti-corporatist and holistic health-centered parents in questioning both the safety and efficacy of vaccination programs. The expansion in accessibility of digital media and a number of celebrity spokespeople linked disparate but like-minded communities of parents fearful for their children’s health. The erosion of public confidence in compulsory vaccination programs became so severe that a 2001 study by the Journal of Pediatrics found that “the broad cultural consensus that has enabled the United States’ universal childhood immunization programs of the past 50 years shows signs of eroding.” (Colgrove 2006:219)

An outbreak of measles among unvaccinated children in early 2015 quickly spread from its epicenter at Disneyland, CA across the rest of the nation. In 2001, U.S. Health officials had declared measles to be eliminated in the United States; in 2014 there were at least 648 confirmed cases – largely found among unvaccinated populations. (Iannelli 2015) Lane County, Oregon’s epicenter for the 2015 measles outbreak, ranked in the middle of Oregon counties with regard to non-medical vaccine exemption rates. (Anon n.d.)

In this atmosphere of potential public health crisis, the Oregon Senate introduced SB 442. The bill removed the nonmedical exemption for children attending the public school system and was aimed at raising Oregon’s vaccination rates overall. SB 442 was assigned to the Senate Health Care Committee and had public hearings on Feb. 18th, 2015. Over 100 people signed up to testify on the bill. Legislative offices received thousands of emails from both constituents and interested parties. The office in which this author worked received over 1,600 emails from as far away as Guam. Both the discredited vaccine researcher Andrew Wakefield and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. visited the Oregon State Capitol in order to meet with legislators. (Yoo 2015a, 2015b)

A few days after the public hearing on the bill, Sen. Steiner Hayward pulled it from consideration, citing waning support for it among her Democratic colleagues.

SB 941: Universal background checks

In March, 2015, Sen. Prozanski introduced SB 941, the “Oregon Firearms Safety Act”. This bill sought to close the private sales loophole in gun sales, mandating background checks for almost every firearms sale in the state (the bill contained a number of exemptions including both sales to law enforcement and between family members). Drawing upon a number of studies that demonstrated that universal background checks reduced homicide rates, Sen. Prozanski sought to add Oregon to the 12 other states in the U.S. that have passed this kind of legislation.

The reaction was immediate and immense. Hundreds of people showed up to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. When the bill went before the House Rules Committee it was allowed a rare nine hours of public testimony. The office in which this author worked received over 1,700 emails and letters from constituents. Some offices in the Senate wing were inundated with phone calls from supporters and opponents alike. State-wide polls put the level of support for SB 941 at 87%, but the vast majority of communications received in individual Senate offices were from gun rights advocates.

On May 11th, SB 941 was signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown.


From January 2015 to May 2015 the author engaged in participant observation-based research of an office in the Oregon State Legislature. As an intern for a State Senator, the author was responsible for sorting, counting, and analyzing the various constituent communications received by the office. In addition, this position granted access to a number of different potential sources of information and influence: other legislators, constituent groups, lobbyists, and other legislative support staff.

During this time period, the author engaged in 27 distinct interviews, ranging from highly informal (conversations had in passing or while waiting for meetings to start) to scheduled, formal meetings with individuals and groups. Notes were kept on these interactions in various media, oftentimes by jotting down data on interactions on note pads immediately following the interaction. The commute home was often also a research space as it was used to collate and organize the various data collected over the course of a day. In keeping with responsible ethnographic practice, despite the lack of the formal dictates of an IRB-overseen ethnographic field study, field notes were kept securely – for physically extant media, a secure location within the author’s personal residence; for digital media, an encrypted volume on a personal computer. Additionally, in keeping with formal ethnographic practice, these media were destroyed upon completion of this assignment.

At all times during both this research and this analysis every effort was made to ensure the confidentiality of all informants, utilizing a set of pseudonyms in both note-taking and when data was collated for analysis. The people who form the core of this analysis remain active in their respective professional and community capacities, and all possible measures were taken to ensure their ability to avoid censure in those respective capacities.

The objective of this approach was to utilize the information collected from informants in order to achieve a ‘thick’ description of the ways in which legislators understand and undertake the activity of representation at the state level. This ethnomethodological approach allowed the author to develop a grounded theory of the ways in which legislators understand and represent their respective communities. That grounded theory was then adapted and shaped by the aforementioned preexisting scholarship into the following analysis.


            In this section, we will turn to an analysis of the various sources of information available to State Senators in the Oregon Legislature. Breaking these sources out into four general groups will allow us to better understand the difference between the passage of SB 941 and the withdrawal of SB 442.

Legislative Staff

Legislators staffs are comprised of a plethora of different individuals that reflect the preference of the individual Senator. Family members, retirees, volunteers, ex-campaign staffers, and professional legislative aides may all be tapped in order to staff a Senate office. Despite this variety, the offices of Oregon State Senators fall into a generally similar form and perform largely similar functions.

The most fundamental function of a legislative staff is to act as a gate-keeper for the legislator. Staff handle the appointment calendar, interact with constituents and lobbyists, and maintain the physical boundaries of the office space. Staff themselves are generally organized into two ranks: interns and Legislative Aides (LAs), allowing for even greater control of information flow to the Senator.

Legislative Interns are the first line of defense, tasked with acting as a filter for the LAs. In taking constituent messages and appointment requests, guarding the entrance to the office, and receiving all variety of correspondence, the Legislative Interns function as an initial sorting mechanism for the LAs, allowing physical and temporal space for the Aides to sort through requests for the Legislator’s time and attention. Legislative Interns exercise little in the way of discretion in this task. As volunteers with limited scheduling, Interns are generally not as informed about the legislative and informational priorities of the moment. In dealing with the volumes of constituent correspondence, however, Interns may be some of the most informed individuals in the office with regard to the volume and tenor of political opinion on various pieces of legislation. As such, one of the primary duties of an Intern is to collate and summarize the nature of constituent correspondence for the LAs.

Legislators in the Oregon Senate receive funding for two Legislative Aides over the course of the legislative session. These Aides do most of the heavy lifting with regard to information flow in a legislative office. They are responsible for both collecting and delivering information requested by the legislator, setting meetings with various lobbying groups and government departments on specific issues, and for a certain level of expertise on particularly intricate or troublesome issues. The legislator relies heavily on Aides in order to manage both information flow and time.

In the course of this research, it became clear that despite a high degree of partisanship, both Interns and Aides expressed a certain amount of pride in their objectivity and their ability to present information to the legislator without bias. One Aide reflected on this tendency: “It is our job to simply give him the information that he’s looking for and get out of the way. The people elected him, not us, and it would be a complete disservice to them if I gave him a bunch of my opinions instead of facts.” Another Aide expressed a similar sentiment in outlining what she expected of Legislative Interns:

You’ve got to allow him the room to make up his own mind. If an Intern or one of us Aides is picking and choosing the information he gets, well, he’s the one that has to go back to district and get yelled at by folks if he gets it wrong. And that means we get yelled at for trying to make his decisions. That’s not even close to our job.

This striving for a relative sense of nonpartisanship in communication of information to the legislator does not necessarily square with the public’s perception of the workings of the office of a State legislator, but this author found it to be a widely held understanding of the function of the various positions within the legislative office.

Professional Lobbyists

Similarly, this author’s findings of the function of professional lobbyists in the State Legislature did not resemble commonly held public conception. Popular media encourage a conception of the professional lobbyist as a puppeteer, bribing and influencing lawmakers into passing legislation advantageous to their corporate clients. This may in fact happen, but this kind of behavior was not witnessed during the course of this analysis.

Rather, lobbyists were utilized in two fashions: sources of information and agents of coalition building. Lobbyists were understood to be partisan forces, but were largely trusted to provide information on various topics directly to legislators. Often their contribution was balanced by a lobbyist with a competing interest in order that legislator understand the full complexity of an issue and be able to make a decision based on the fullest possible picture of the problem. Lobbyists that had not demonstrated an ability to provide information in a largely factual way seemed to be held in a lower regard and were not often granted time with the legislator; instead, their meetings were with lower level staff, Aides, who would then exercise a certain amount of discretion in passing that information along to the legislator.

Lobbyists engaged in a kind of internal policing of professional standards, talking to legislative staff about other lobbyists who had demonstrated a lack of trustworthiness. This may represent an attempt to achieve a higher level of regard with legislators and their staff, perhaps in order to garner more time speaking directly to legislators, but it appeared to be more of an informal mechanism that protected the interests of the group of lobbyists as a whole. Even lobbyists on opposite sides of a particular issue would be collegial and cordial with each other if both held a reputation for trustworthiness. One lobbyist, when asked about this propensity, remarked that this stemmed from a need for coalition-building: “If I get nasty with someone else, ‘cause I’m trying to get my point across, well, the next bill up might be something I need them on, and now I can’t get any sort of traction and I’m shut out. That’s not good for my clients.”

The building of coalitions was one of the primary functions of lobbyists for legislators. Oftentimes lobbyists will be tasked to ‘carry water’ for legislative priorities, building groups of support among the legislator’s peers or in the other legislative chamber. This aspect of the lobbyists’ role also had the subsidiary benefit of allowing the legislator to accomplish legislative aims without seeming to be pushing a personal agenda – something that allows the legislator to remain on good terms with his or her peers regardless of ideological difference.

Legislative Peers

The information received by a legislator from his or her legislative peers is the hardest to understand or qualify. Oftentimes, Senators will engage in conversation in the hall, in caucus meetings, or in brief one-on-one sessions, spaces that are not generally made open to either legislative staff or nosy academic researchers. This is a useful practice in the legislature as it encourages the building of coalitions between lawmakers themselves and may ease the passage of various parts of a legislator’s agenda. At the same time, for the reasons described above, it is difficult to understand the extent to which these types of interactions influence an individual legislator’s information store or voting predilections.


Communication with constituents can be broken out into two broad categories: personal interactions with constituent groups and communications received from constituents.

Constituent Groups

Groups of constituents will often organize and travel to the Capitol in the hopes of meeting with and personally delivering their legislative preferences to lawmakers. These groups may announce their intentions to legislative offices beforetime or they may simply arrive unannounced. This practice seems to increase in frequency around issues with higher levels of personal feeling: a bill inserting new language into a regulation overseeing the decibel level of hand dryers in restrooms, for example, drew no interested constituents to our legislative office. Both SB 442 and SB 941 drew multiple large groups of constituents.

These interactions are most often mediated by the Legislative Aides; absent a prior appointment, which can be very hard to get, a constituent group has a small chance of actually meeting with a legislator upon arrival at the Capitol. Again, there seems to be a sort of congruence here with the level of emotion generated by a given piece of legislation. A piece of legislation like SB 442 or SB 941 that generated a high amount of feeling among constituents and prompt large numbers of them to travel to Capitol would generally result in meetings only with legislative staff. Constituents visiting the Capitol in express advocacy on uncontroversial legislation experienced higher levels of success in meeting directly with legislators.

Constituent Communications

The digital age has completely opened the door to the flow of constituent communication. Stock emails, Facebook posts, and Twitter alerts allow the rapid mobilization of large number of constituents to communicate their views directly to legislative offices. As mentioned above, these communications are generally collated by legislative staff into rapidly digestible form: 1,600 total emails, 95% against, 35% sent by constituents in district, for example.

This is not to say that constituent preference either exerts a high amount of influence or that it goes unregarded, simply that even state legislators may expect a large volume of it in proportion to the amount of social angst generated by a given piece of legislation.

Guns and Vaccines

The most striking difference between the two senate bills under consideration lies here, in the nature of the respective constituent communication. Both bills generated a high level of social anxiety among extremely vocal minorities, they both dealt with issues of personal liberty and public safety, they both generated extraordinary levels of public comment and response. The relative levels of support and opposition among the professional lobbyists at the State Capital was remarkably similar; the only professional lobbyists that spoke out in testimony against either bill were from outside of Oregon: the NRA against SB 941 and Andrew Wakefield and Robert Kennedy, Jr. against SB 442. Both bills enjoyed overwhelming public support according to state-wide polls, and both enjoyed overwhelming initial support among the Democratic Senators in the legislature. Both bills had been guaranteed signature on passage by Gov. Kate Brown.

Why then did one bill pass and one bill fail? The difference between the two bills seems to lie in the way in which organized constituent communication was framed. The communications received by legislative offices on SB 941 were highly antagonistic in nature and largely did not address the substance of the bill. The concerns raised by these constituents – largely regarding issues of Constitutionality – were addressed both by material circulated by the chief sponsor of the bill and by conversations with professional lobbyists representing groups supportive of the bill. Legislators were well prepared with a high amount of information that simply put the lie to many of the concerns raised in the constituent communications. A minority of constituents who chose to express their legislative preferences in the form of threats of violence helped to sour legislator opinion against their cause.

In this case, we can see some parity with the ‘trustee’ model of legislator action, although Fenno cautions us to look beneath the surface in order to understand legislator opinion. One Senator expressed his reasoning thusly: “These people who are writing in against [SB 941], have they even read the bill? Idiots all of ‘em. And we can’t hear a damn thing from everybody who wants this [SB 941] ‘cause the idiots are all armed.” This legislator and the others who voted with him for passage of SB 941 had held up the constituent response their offices were receiving against both their own personal knowledge of the bill and their conceptions of what their own personal constituencies looked like in order to come to an opinion. Another legislator put it even more succinctly, “The gun nuts don’t vote for me anyway.”

Paradoxically, constituent response surrounding SB 442 initially took the same form as that of SB 941. Emails and phone calls received stressed personal liberty, accused lawmakers of going against the constitution, and hypothesized, in one particularly memorable case, the bill as the first step towards the creation of FEMA-run “vaccine camps” where citizens would be held for medical experimentation. However, over the course of the bill, the nature of these communications changed. From an initial constituent response of panic and hyperbole, the emails and phone calls that legislative offices began to receive stressed parental rights and child welfare. Lawmakers were implored to not interfere in the raising of children; to leave such prerogatives to parents and not the state.

The legislative office in which this author interned was subject to an unannounced constituent visit from a large group of people from district that wanted to express their extreme opposition to SB 442. It was interesting to note that the leaders of the group kept the conversation largely away from discussions of vaccine efficacy and personal liberty and more focused on issues of parental rights.[i] It is here, in this shift in message framing that fissures in the Democratic bloc began to appear. As lawmakers were increasingly able to identify the concerns of constituents who opposed SB 442 with their own mental pictures of their constituencies, they were no longer as able to justify their own opinion on the bill. One lobbyist observed:

On bills like this, I like to talk about a place called Crazy-town. Its where the extreme right and the extreme left curve back around and run smack into each other in support of the same thing. Its only because they managed to get the Crazy-town people back in their box that we’re not voting on this right now!

Again, we see the influence of Fenno’s circles of constituency – but in this case, lawmaker opinion on a particular piece of legislation was shifted as constituent advocates reframed their message in a more readily digestible fashion.


Participant observation of Oregon legislators at work demonstrated that they possessed high levels of information about various pieces of legislation, and were somewhat in tune with state-wide political polling. Similarly, it demonstrated that legislators were unlikely to be swayed, or even aware of, media coverage of bills. This analysis instead leans toward an understanding of the interplay between legislator opinions and constituent pressure as mediated by the individual legislator’s own perception of his or her district – and how closely the constituent advocates are able to frame their message to that perception.

This analysis was hampered both by temporal and workforce constraints. A more complete understanding might be achieved by a larger team spending more time with legislators and their staff. It is hoped that this study might prompt more research in this neglected area.

Works Cited:

Anon. n.d. “Kindergarten Nonmedical Exemptions, 2013-2014 (Oregon 7.0%).” Retrieved (

Cohen, Jeffrey E. 2015. Presidential Leadership in Public Opinion: Causes and Consequences. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Colgrove, James. 2006. State of Immunity: The Politics of Vaccination in Twentieth-Century America. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

DiMesio, Robbie Olivas. 2015. “Lane County Measles Case First in Oregon Tied to Disneyland Outbreak.” The Oregonian/OregonLive, January 20. Retrieved (

Epstein, Lee and Jeffrey A. Segal. 2000. “Measuring Issue Salience.” American Journal of Political Science 44(1):66–83.

Fenno, Richard. 1978. Home Style: House Members in Their Districts. New York, NY: Longman.

Foden-Vencil, Kristian. 2015. “Oregon Has Highest Vaccine Exemption Rate in US.” OPB News, February 4. Retrieved (

Hurley, Patricia A. 1982. “Collective Representation Reappraised.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 7(1):119–36.

Iannelli, Vincent. 2015. “Measles Outbreaks 2015.”, May 20. Retrieved (

Miller, Warren E. and Donald E. Stokes. 1963. “Constituency Influence in Congress.” The American Political Science Review 57(1):45–56.

Mustafaraj, Eni, Samantha Finn, Carolyn Whitlock, and Panagiotis T. Metaxas. 2011. “Vocal Minority versus Silent Majority: Discovering the Opinions of the Long Tail.” Wellesley College.

Uslaner, Eric M. and Ronald E. Weber. 1979. “U.S. State Legislators’ Opinions and Perceptions of Constituency Attitudes.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 4(4):563–85.

Weissberg, Robert. 1978. “Collective vs. Dyadic Representation in Congress.” The American Political Science Review 72(2):535–47.

Yoo, Saerom. 2015a. “Oregon Senator to Propose New School Vaccine Policy.” Statesman Journal, March 12. Retrieved (

Yoo, Saerom. 2015b. “Senator Drops Oregon Vaccine Mandate Bill.” KGW, March 11. Retrieved (

Appendix One: SB 442

Appendix Two: SB 941

[i] They were not entirely successful in this endeavor, much to the chagrin of the LA present.

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