College | Political Science | Courses
| What's New?
PSC 201: American
Serow (ed) Lanahan
Readings in the American Polity, 3/e
Congress. Student Outlines
compiled from student
contributions (thanks) by Jeremy
Last revised 12/3/17.
Mayhew, "Congress: Electoral Connection."
Price, "Congressional Experience".
25: David Mayhew, "Congress: Electoral
by K. Alexis Johnson, Fall 2009
-David Mayhew is a Sterling Professor of Political
Science at Yale University. His research concerns U.S. legislative
behavior, U.S. political parties, and U.S. policymaking.
-Mayhew describes American “congressmen as
single-minded seekers of reelection.”
-He supports this idea because he finds
that it fits political reality well, and it puts the spotlight on the
men rather than the parties. He also believes that “politics is best
described as a struggle among men to gain and maintain power.”
Last, he upholds this theory with the principle that reelection pursuits
create accountability with the voters.
-Mayhew says that congressmen are continually partaking
in events connected to reelection.
-However, the members take part in different types of
-One method of constantly campaigning for votes
is “advertising.” Most congressmen do well when they build a
“brand name” for themselves. The fact that incumbents are better
known than their opponents is arguably their greatest
-House members are different from
Senators, because they can send out advertisements in the mail.
-The second way congressmen can reach their
voters is called “credit claiming.” Basically, they take
credit for something that is considered beneficial to government.
-Senators find it easier to simply appear on
television to get their name out.
-The emphasis lies on the actual
member’s success, rather than the party.
-The final activity that Mayhew lists is “position
taking.” He defines this as the “public enunciation of a
judgmental statement on anything likely to be of interest to political
-Usually, a congressman will participate in a
favor for his constituents.
-Two types are American governmental
ends (strictly a vote for or against something) and governmental means
(suggests the method).
-Positions can be expressed through floor
addresses, speeches, letters, press releases, Playboy articles, and
-Roybal believed that diverse constituency
calls for different means of expressing one’s convictions.
Serow 25: Mayhew, David, from Congress: The
(Laura McCauley, 2000)
– United States Congressmen are single-minded
seekers of reelection
– this fits political reality rather well
– it puts the spotlight on men rather than parties
and pressure groups
– reelection quest establishes an accountability
relationship with the people
– Congressmen use three activities to gain
advertising-any effort to make one’s name known among
constituents so that it creates
a favorable image with
little or no issue content, create a brand name, should emphasize
responsiveness, concern, sincerity, independence, etc..,
incumbents are better known
because they spend a lot of time, energy, and money on it,
advertising is done at the public’s expense
credit claiming-generating a belief among the public that the
personally responsible for
causing government to do something the people desire, if
people think the congressman
can make pleasing things happen, they’ll want to keep him
in office so he can continue
to do good things, the congressman focuses on
thousands of favors congressional offices perform for
supplicants in ways that
don’t normally require legislative action, he tries to fill the
traditional role of supplier
of goods to his home district
position taking-the public enunciation of a judgmental statement
on anything of
interest to the people, most
importantly statements prescribing American governmental
ends or governmental means,
done using floor addresses, speeches, television
newsletters, press releases, books, articles, interviews, etc...,
groups call for different
methods of expressing one’s convictions
Richard Fenno, "Home Style"
By Rob Gaiotti, 2001
· Richard Fenno, a renowned political scientist,
derived the idea of finding out what political figures did when they
were out of their element of Washington, and back at home.
· Asked the question “what takes place in the homes
· Fenno refers to Erving Goffman stating that
Politicians are much like Actors in the respect that they both need to
draw support and legitimacy from the people to be successful.
· Fenno also talks about non-verbal aspects of a
representative being almost more important than the verbal, and more
importantly the verbal and non-verbal traits need to coincide.
· He goes on the discuss the fact that Political
figures seek trust and support, they ultimately seek the support of
constituents, however, trust is the cornerstone for support.
· All these ideas are pulled together into what
Goffman called “presentation of self” or the way that a representative
This presentation of self and the quality there of,
is directly related to the success of a politician.
· Fenno, also states that Goffman believed the
process of enhancing trust and the presentation of self are closely
related in the fact that they are time consuming.
· Fenno justifies the pursuit of power in politics;
stating that the gain of power is more beneficial to the group of
constituents that support the politician, than to the politician
· He states that acceptance and explanation at home
is the underpinning of the representatives voting in Washington.
· In conclusion Fenno states that the time the
reps spend at home more or less develops leeway for activity in
31: David Price “From the Congressional Experience”
Notes by: Rebecca Worrell , 2001
• went to Mars Hill Junior College in the North
Ideas on politics
• hometown was Erwin, Tennessee
• interviewed for a Morehead Scholarship this enabled
him to attend the University of North Carolina
• went to divinity school in 1961 and then graduate
• granted a faculty appointment in political science
at Yale University
• later went on to teach at Duke University in
Durham, North Carolina
• then appointed a seat in the U.S. House of
Representatives on November 4, 1986
• believed that one must set priorities separating
things that you want to invest a lot of time in and those you do not
want to deal with at all
• it is essential to delegate a great deal to staff
and to develop a good mutual understanding within the office as to when
the member’s personal direction and attention are required
• a member who requires a great deal of control is in
the wrong line of work
• every member of Congress performs three
functions: lawmaker, ombudsman, and educator
• the extent to which a member is willing and able to
undertake explanations is ethically as well as politically
• opinion polls regularly reveal that public
officials in general and Congress in particular rank low in public
• a member should defend Congress right or
• it is tempting to “trash” the institution, but it
is also deceptive and irresponsible
• it may be politically profitable to “run for
Congress by running against it”
• it is the nature of political campaigns to polarize
and to oversimplify
• voters complain about the irrelevance of campaign
advertising but many campaigns have shown that such tactics can
effectively be turned against an opponent
• members are hardly helpless or blameless for these
• the task is to get to work on these major
challenges in both campaigning and governing in a credible way that
inspires confidence and enthusiasm
31: David Price “From the Congressional Experience”
Notes by Sean Kent, Fall 2017
The idea of politics, they believe that you need to separate things that
you want to invest most of your time in.
It is a must that you delegate a great deal into the staff and develop a
mutual understanding with in the office.
You shouldn't have a member of your office that needs controlling.
Every member of Congress performs three functions: lawmaker, ombudsmen,
A member should defend Congress right or wrong. It is politically
profitable to "run for Congress by running against it."
It is politics' nature for campaigns to oversimplify and polarize. Their
work task is to inspire confidence and enthusiasm in campaigning and