Congressional Representation & Constituents

The Case for Increasing the U.S. House of Representatives

By Brian Frederick

© 2010 – Routledge

172 pages

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Paperback: 9780415873468
pub: 2009-11-24
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About the Book

The U.S. House of Representatives has been frozen at 435 members for almost a century, and in that time the nation’s population has grown by more than 200 percent. With the number of citizens represented by each House member now dramatically larger, is a major consequence of this historical disparity a diminished quality of representation?

Brian Frederick uses empirical data to scrutinize whether representation has been undermined by keeping a ceiling on the number of seats available in the House. He examines the influence of constituency size on several metrics of representation—including estimating the effects on electoral competition, policy responsiveness, and citizen contact with and approval of their representatives—and argues that now is the time for the House to be increased in order to better represent a rapidly growing country.

Reviews

"Congressional Representation and Constituents is an interesting and provocative book. It raises some fascinating questions, reviews some largely forgotten history, and comes to a controversial conclusion." - L. Marvin Overby, The Journal of Legislative Studies, Vol. 17, 4, November 2011

"Brian Frederick has written a comprehensive and compelling argument for increasing the size of the House of Representatives. Set in the Constitution at no more than one House member per 30,000 people, there are now more than 700,000 constituents in every House district. Frederick outlines the representational costs of freezing the size of the House for nearly a century. While critics will certainly disagree, they will not be able to ignore this thoughtful book." —David T. Canon, University of Wisconsin, Madison

"This interesting, careful, and rigorous study sheds much new light on a fundamental issue of democratic representation too often overlooked by contemporary scholars and reformers." —Frances E. Lee, University of Maryland

"Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate, research, and professional collections." - J. F. Kraus, CHOICE (July 2010)

"[T]he empirical richness of this study makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of how constituency size influences the representation we receive from members of Congress. Scholars of political institutions are well advised to consider Frederick’s argument and the evidence he brings to bear in its defense." - Mark Oleszek, Congress & the Presidency, 38.2, 243-245

Table of Contents

1. Why Study the Size of the House? 2. Debating the Size of the House 3. The Growth of House District Populations and Electoral Competition 4. Constituents: How Many is Too Many? 5. House Constituency Size and Voting Patterns 6. Public Opinion on the Size of the House 7. The Size of the House: Does it Really Matter?

About the Author

Brian Frederick is an assistant professor of political science at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts.

About the Series

Controversies in Electoral Democracy and Representation

The Routledge series Controversies in Electoral Democracy and Representation presents cutting edge scholarship and innovative thinking on a broad range of issues relating to democratic practice and theory. An electoral democracy, to be effective, must show a strong relationship between representation and a fair open election process. Designed to foster debate and challenge assumptions about how elections and democratic representation should work, titles in the series present a strong but fair argument on topics related to elections and the institutions shaping them, voting behavior, party and media involvement, representation, and democratic theory.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POL000000
POLITICAL SCIENCE / General
POL007000
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Democracy
POL040000
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / General