Members of the U.S. Senate do not respond equally to the views of all their constituents, according to research to be published in Political Research Quarterly next month.
Senators overall represent their wealthiest constituents, while those on bottom of the economic rung are neglected.“The fact that lower income groups seem to be ignored by elected officials, although not a new finding, remains a troubling observation in American politics,” Thomas J. Hayes of Trinity University wrote in his study.
In all of the five Congresses examined, the voting records of Senators were consistently aligned with the opinions of their wealthiest constituents. The opinions of lower-class constituents, however, never appeared to influence the Senators’ voting behavior.
The neglect of lower income groups was a bipartisan affair. Democrats were not any more responsive to the poor than Republicans.
Contrary to popular opinion, it was Democrats — not Republicans — who were more responsive to upper-class opinion in the 111th Congress.