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The gap between what you think and what Congress thinks you think is filled with corporate money.


The more you get money from big businesses, the worse you do at guessing what the public wants. And the more you get money from membership-based groups, the better you do at guessing what the public wants. But the reality is that there's a lot less money coming from membership-based organizations than from corporate groups. So it's not surprising that overall those staffers are doing a bad job - they're hearing from businesses more, they're getting money from corporations more, and that seems to be influencing what they think the public wants across a range of issues.

Political scientist Leah Stokes examines the wide ideological gap between Congress and US citizens - as elected representatives and their staffers substitute corporate lobbying and their own beliefs for the values of their constituencies across a wide range of issues, policies are pushed rightward and away from popular solutions to pressing issues.

Leah is co-author of the paper Legislative Staff and Representation in Congress in the American Political Science Review.

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Leah Stokes

Leah Stokes is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and affiliated with the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management and the Environmental Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara.


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