Abstract

We introduce a dynamic model of position-taking and advertising, in which politicians trade off policy and reelection. We estimate ca- reer concerns for US senators, and quantify how preferences for office and policy affect electoral accountability. Senators are typically willing to make significant policy concessions for electoral gains: the median senator is willing to give up 5% of the average distance between voters and politicians for a 1% increase in the probability of reelection. There is, however, substantial heterogeneity, which covaries with observable characteristics. Given estimated voter responsiveness, accountability is low on average, but high for office-motivated senators in competitive elections.

Download Paper (Last Version: November, 2018
Download Appendix