The Ties That Bind: Surrogate Representation in the United States House of Representatives Public Deposited

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  • September 23, 2022
  • Steelman, Tyler
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
  • In a 2015 interview with the Minnesota Post, U.S. House member Keith Ellison made the startling comment that he “. . . didn’t run for Congress to talk about my religion all the time. . . ”; instead he ran “. . . to increase the minimum wage, strengthen the right to bargain collectively, to do something about climate change, to help students afford college.” What is being described is surrogate representation—an often understudied phenomenon in theories of American representation—which is the link between a legislator and citizen where no formal electoral, and territorial, connection exists. Using an original method to identify the location of donors to members of the United States House of Representatives in 2016 I demonstrate the surrogate legislators have a higher percentage of their constituencies originating from outside their geographic district. This process is facilitated by speciail interested organizations, like EMILY’s List which can increase a surrogate legislator’s out-of-district constitueny even further. Surrogate legislators are attracting the attention of citizens across political boundaries and are seeing significant increases to the percentage of their campaign contributions that are coming from outside their congressional district, as a result. In effect, these legislators are redefining their constituencies to include both in-district and out-of-district citizens.
Date of publication
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Ryan, Timothy
  • Treul, Sarah
  • Conover, Pamela
  • Master of Arts
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2018

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