Gail McElroy – Trinity College Dublin

The Role of Campaigns in Selecting Good Representatives: Are Hard Working Candidates Also Hard Working Legislators?

Candidates typically spend a great deal of time and effort campaigning in the run up to election day. The question remains, however, whether hard-working candidates are also hard-working legislators once elected. The answer to this question speaks to the usefulness of elections as mechanisms for helping voters select high quality and hard-working representatives. This paper provides the first systematic test of the link between campaign effort and legislative effort using data from five cycles in three legislatures: the European Parliament and the lower houses of the Republic of Ireland and Germany. We find no relationship between campaign effort and legislative effort in any of these cases, across all three legislative settings and a range of different specifications. Our results strongly suggest that what voters may readily observe at election time are poor indicators of the properties that they, and we, wish to see in a representative.

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