In the News
Congress Lets Student Loan Rates Double
“Not Gerrymandering, but Districting: More Evidence on
How Democrats Won the Popular Vote but Lost the
“Unintentional Gerrymandering” Political Geography and
the U.S. House Vote
Democrats are inefficiently concentrated in large cities and
small industrial agglomerations.
Where Have We Been?
Constitutional Foundations & Design of Congress
The Two Congresses and the Representative-
Miller and Stokes (1963)
Institutionalization of Congress
Elections and the Rules of the Game
Where Are We Going?
Who votes for them?
What effect do elections have on governance?
Maestas et al. (2006) “When to Risk It?
Institutions, Ambitions, and the Decision to Run for
the U.S. House” American Political Science Review
Barriers to entering
What does the Constitution require of Congressional
What must candidates consider about their districts?
Nominating procedures and primaries
How can this process change who decides to run?
General election prospects
Maestas et al. (2006)
Why are the authors concerned about analyzing the
decision model through a two-stage process?
What method do they use to determine the ambition
of state legislators?
Why might members of a professional legislature be
more likely to run for Congress? Conversely, why
might they be more likely to stay in their current
Finally, what do they find? What factors make
legislators more or less ambitious? What factors
make ambitious legislators more or less likely to run?
PA National Congressional Districts
Pennsylvania State House Map
Pennsylvania State Senate Map
Running for Higher Office – Previous
Expected utility of winning a higher office - E(Uh)
E(Uh) = phBh – Ch
Expected utility of retaining the current, lower office -
E(Ul) = plBl – Cl
Under this assumption, an ambitious politician will
attempt to move to higher office when:
E(Uh) = phBh – Ch >E(Ul) = plBl – Cl
What is problematic about this assumption?
Running for Higher Office – A Two-Stage
Maestas and colleagues argue that there is a stable
disposition, or function, that each legislator holds.
Progressive Ambition = f(E(UA)
= pgenBmarg – Cmarg + M)
Where pgenis the long-run probability of winning office
Bmargis the expected gain from the target office
Cmargis the expected costs from running for the target office
M = personal motivations outside of the cost-benefit analysis
Those who enter Stage 2 have already crossed a
threshold level of ambition.
Stage 2 Pr(Run | Progressive Ambition > 0 = f(Pt, pgen,Ct,)
= pgenBmarg – Cmarg + M)
pgen Bmarg Cmarg M
winning the party
effectiveness in U.S.
Family-cost index Desire to make
social or business
chances of winning
the general election.
to current position in
Perception of district
Signals from party.
Moving to the Second Stage
f(E(UA) = pgenBmarg – Cmarg + M)
If f(E(UA)) > 0, then they are scored as „1‟ (i.e. ambitious)
If f(E(UA)) ≤ 0, then then they are scored as „0‟ (i.e. not
N = 597
N = 263
N = 334
How do the authors connect their findings to political
What are the implications for their findings?
What can they not determine from this study?
How might this study be extended?