Works in Progress

"Surrogate Representation in the United States House of Representatives." (Under review)


While geographic-based representation for members of the U.S. House of Representatives is constitutionally mandated, the "lines" of American politics have become blurred. Citizens contact, volunteer, and donate to members of Congress from across the country despite having no territorial relationship with them. Surrogate representation—the representation of Americans by legislators outside their legislative district—is an understudied phenomenon that offers insights into how, and why, these relationships form. In this paper, I offer a psychological theory of representation where legislators make group-based representative claims that are accepted by citizens across political boundaries—thus facilitating surrogate representation. Using campaign contributions to U.S. House members from 2012-2018, I demonstrate that surrogate representatives see a significantly larger percentage of their total constituencies comes from outside their congressional district. The evidence presented here challenges the standard account of representation in American politics and calls for a more robust examination of surrogate representation in contemporary politics.