Nicholas Carnes and Benjamin E. Lauderdale, “Legislator Characteristics, Constituency Characteristics, and Roll Call Voting”

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Which matters more when legislators make decisions, their own characteristics or those of the people they represent? This paper uses comprehensive data on the personal attributes of both members of Congress and their constituents to com- pare the relative influence of eight legislator and constituency characteristics–party, race, gender, age, income, education, religion, and occupation–on roll call voting in the 109th and 110th Congresses. Our findings suggest that who governs matters considerably more than the literatures on representation and legislative decision-making have previously acknowledged: the effects of legislators’ own backgrounds are not limited to the handful of issue areas and personal characteristics that previous studies have examined. These findings strongly support recent calls for renewed attention to the “personal roots” of elite decision-making.

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About Me

I am a Professor of Political Science at University College London. I have been Head of Department from October 2021.

Recently, my research has focused on developing new designs for highly multidimensional survey experiments that enable us to better measure key concepts relevant to public opinion and political behaviour. This has included projects introducing new methods for measuring the relative importance of different issues to voters; the extent to which there are robust patterns in which kinds of political arguments are persuasive; public preferences over the composition of government spending; public attitudes towards alternative ways that governments raise tax revenues; the extent to which political disagreement can be ascribed to moral disagreement; and the relative perceived severity, and priority for government action, of different politically salient problems. In addition, I am working on a textbook on social science measurement, a book on the structure of public opinion and voter behaviour, and a project examining public attitudes to democracy in the UK.

Earlier in my career, my research was focused on the development of new methods for the measurement of political preferences from large observational survey, voting, network and text datasets. This work included applications to citizens, legislators and judges across the US, UK, EU and beyond.

I worked as a Senior Data Science Advisor to YouGov from 2016-2021 and was an Associate Editor of the American Political Science Review from 2016-2020. Before joining UCL, I worked at the London School of Economics as a Lecturer, Associate Professor, and Professor from 2011 to 2018.

Curriculum Vitae pdf



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