Congressional casework: Why bother? An insider's perspective on casework




Carlos, Roberto Felix

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Research on congressional casework allocation has primarily focused on the electoral connection. The major debates center on whether or not there is an electoral benefit for members of Congress who perform casework. Yet the glaring weakness of the research is that it essentially neglects to consider other factors that could affect casework outputs such as district and constituency dynamics, in addition to the representative's own motivation to perform good public policy. In this study, I interview congressional caseworkers in an attempt to gain an insiders perspective on the value their representatives place on casework. This study reveals that casework is not necessarily seen as being electorally helpful for the incumbent, but that it is instead seen as a major part of their role as representatives attempting to perform good public policy. In addition, the findings suggest certain district and constituency dynamics will largely determine the scope and type of casework being performed. However, the study does reveal that the constituents that benefit from casework most are those who tend to be associated with higher socioeconomic status districts, as opposed to those in low socioeconomic high need districts.


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Casework, Congress, Congressional Staff, Constituency



Political Science and Geography