Charles Hunt, a professor of political science in the School of Public Service, collaborated with Stella Rouse from Arizona State University to investigate the local ties of American state legislators. They compared the depth of these ties to the legislators’ voting records. The article – “Polarization and Place-Based Representation in US State Legislatures” – was published in Legislative Studies Quarterly and begged the question, do local ties impact voting records for the legislators?
The article stated that “recent scholarship has shown that legislators with deeper local roots and other preexisting place-based attachments to their districts enjoy far-reaching electoral advantages over their more ‘carpetbagging’ colleagues.” They consider how local roots, and its intersection with legislative polarization, influences legislative behavior, using a dataset of nearly 5,000 state legislators and novel measures of their local roots. They hypothesized that state legislators with deep local roots in their districts should be less ideologically polarized than their less-rooted colleagues.
Hunt and Rouse found that legislators with deeper local roots in the places they represent are significantly less different in ideology and less divided than their counterparts from out of town.