The Role of State & National Institutional Evaluations in Fostering Collective Accountability Across the U.S. States

20 April 2022, Version 2


Theories of collective accountability in American elections center on the ability of voters to hold legislators accountable for the job performance of the president and their party in Congress. While this work finds that presidential and congressional approval finds that legislators pay an electoral penalty for low institutional approval ratings under their party’s control, little is none whether this form of collective accountability translates to the state legislative context. We argue that collective accountability in state legislative elections follows a two-tiered approach, with state legislators being held accountable for national and state policymaking institutions. Using new state-level measures of institutional approval for national and state institutions, along with voter-level data from the 2007-2020 Cooperative Election Study, we find that presidential approval is the principal growing motivator of state legislative partisan choice with other policymaking institutions playing a minimal role, at best. These findings suggest nationalization also shapes state-centric legislative elections.



Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.