Does casework matter? A reply to Professor Fiorina.

As should all reviewers, Professor Morris Fiorina has not only com- mented forcefully on our article but has sought, in the best academic tradi- tion, to teach two "naive empiricists" that an oversimplistic approach to a complex problem simply won't do. Of course it won't. But simple is not the same thing as simplistic. An acute and sophisticated understanding can underlie a simple model, while a complex model may be the result of sim- plistic thinking. We intend to demonstrate this. At the outset, we should like to make one point. We have said that we cannot pretend to know what causes congressmen to win as comfortably as they do. The essence of our paper is that doing a lot of casework, relative to the normal amount produced by unsolicited constituent requests, does not make much difference, if any, in election results. We hasten to note that our aggregate sample contains only a couple of congressmen who do virtually no casework, and none, to our knowledge, who make a habit of refusing to handle citizen requests for help. Perhaps if there were such members, even the most simplistic of statistical tests would show that they are punished by the voters, but perhaps not. We cannot tell. All we can do is take the best data available, operationalize key elements of important hypotheses (in- cluding the casework hypothesis), and offer the results.

Main Author: McAdams, John.
Other Authors: Johannes, John.
Language: English
Published: 1981
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