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Why do congressmen get re-elected?

by / 0 Comments / 104 View / May 1, 2015

This is a common meme spreading in various related forms. A large group of politicians (such as Congress) has a low approval rating whereas individual politicians still get re-elected. Why is that?

Some explanations proposed are:

1) Voter ignorance.
2) Gerrymandering.
3) People did not go out to vote.

Of which none are correct.  If voters are ignorant, then how do they disapprove of Congress in the first place?

Voters have a negative opinion of Congress because of its failure to work as a whole. Most people would still approve of their representatives, however. A voter in Houston could be quite happy with the vote he made, but is unhappy about the the Congressmen from New York acting against the Texan’s policies. This is where the Fallacy of Division comes in – a property of the whole is not necessarily a property of the part. Although politicians are individuals within the complete group, the group can be ineffective while the individual can still be agreeable. We vote on individual politicians and not all of Congress. 

 

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