Rather than occupants of a position in an ideological policy space, we conceive of legislators as reputation builders – the reputation they think will best serve them in the next election. Our theory suggests that legislators will seek to undercut the efforts of the challenger they fear most – the one in the primary or the one in the general election. We test our reasoning by examining legislative cosponsorship patterns in the U.S. House of Representatives. We find evidence that legislators respond to information about their potential future electoral challenges by building reputations as loners, partisans, or dissidents. We also show that these choices have implications for an incumbent's prospects in the next election. Building the wrong reputation increases the strength of future challenges.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Political Science and International Relations