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.Read More »