Center for Effective Lawmaking

Legislative Effectiveness at Primaries

Turning Legislative Effectiveness into Electoral Success

Turning Legislative Effectiveness into Legislative Success

The Center for Effective Lawmaking (“CEL”) conducted an in-depth study to explore whether lawmakers in Congress are rewarded in primary elections for their effectiveness. Do effective members win at a greater rate during this time of the electoral cycle? Can they ward off challengers?

The answer, for the first time, is clear. And it has obvious impacts on how lawmakers considering reelection should use their time in Congress.

Looking at congressional primaries data from 1980-2016 allowed CEL researchers to remove partisan cues and focus on a voting body which was highly knowledgeable and active. As reflected in current news, primary elections are where voters are most likely to know, and potentially vote based on, the ability of their representatives to deliver on legislation. However, before now, research on electoral success as related to legislative effectiveness was murky at best.

But the CEL has now clearly established that there are correlations between a representative’s effectiveness and their likeliness to be successful in their party’s primary.

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Read more about whether legislative effectiveness matters for legislative success.
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