Legislative Effectiveness, Progressive Ambition, and Electoral Success May 01, 2023 By Craig Volden Legislative Effectiveness, Progressive Ambition, and Electoral Success Presented at the 2022 Annual Meetings of the American Political Science Association in Montreal, Canada. In May, 2023, this paper received the State Politics and Policy Quarterly Best Paper Award from the American Political Science Association. Authors are: Danielle Thomsen, Sarah A. Treul, Craig Volden and Alan E. Wiseman. Are effective state lawmakers more likely than ineffective state lawmakers to be elected to Congress? We draw on a new dataset of state legislative effectiveness scores for nearly 60,000 state legislators from 1993 to 2018 to examine the relationship between lawmaker effectiveness and the decision to run for, and ultimately be elected to, the U.S. House of Representatives. We find that more- effective state lawmakers are more likely to ultimately enter Congress. This pattern is due more to the progressive ambition of candidates than to voter decisions. Specifically, more-effective lawmakers are much more likely to run for U.S. House seats than are their less-effective counterparts. However, there is essentially no relationship between a state legislator’s lawmaking effectiveness and the likelihood that she wins her primary or general House election upon deciding to run. Our findings offer important insights into how American federalism contributes to representation by effective lawmakers. Volden-APSA-best-paper-2023.pdf (502.42 KB) Areas of focus Domestic Policy & Politics Political Science UVA partners Center for Effective Lawmaking Craig Volden Craig Volden is a professor of public policy and politics at the University of Virginia, with appointments in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and the Department of Politics. He studies the politics of public policy, with a focus on what policy choices arise within legislative institutions and within American federalism. He is founder and co-director of the Center for Effective Lawmaking. Read full bio Related Content Craig Volden The Primary Path for Turning Legislative Effectiveness into Electoral Success Research Effective lawmakers are the workhorses of the US Congress, yet we know little about the electoral payoffs of their efforts. Are effective lawmakers better at warding off challengers in the next election? Do they win at a greater rate? Spatial Models of Legislative Effectiveness Research Spatial models of policymaking have evolved from the median voter theorem through the inclusion of institutional considerations such as political parties, committees, and various voting and amendment rules. Such models, however, implicitly assume that no policy is more effective than another at solving public policy problems and that all proposers are equally capable of advancing proposals. Effective Lawmaking in Virginia: Past, Present and Future News This week’s Batten Hour featured Bill Howell, former Speaker of the House of Delegates, and David Toscano, former House Minority Leader, in a discussion about how the legislature is addressing past, present and future policy challenges. Their discussion was moderated by Craig Volden, professor of public policy and politics and co-director of the Center for Effective Lawmaking. Improving Expertise of Congressional Staff News In an op-ed published in The Messenger, Craig Volden and Alan E. Wiseman of the Center for Effective Lawmaking write that without proper career training for congressional staffers, expertise gaps on Capitol Hill will continue to be problematic.