Constituent Opinion and Congressional Leadership: Letters to Majority Leader Carl Albert on Civil Rights 1963-64

Neal Allen

Abstract


This article tests whether citizen opinions on a contested issue are affected by the issue position of their member of Congress. A highly-popular and visible incumbent, then-House Majority Leader Carl Albert was a strong supporter of the legislation that became the 1964 Civil Rights Act, despite coming from an unsupportive area. Letters mailed from Albert’s district are strongly opposed to Civil Rights, in similar frequency and content to both other parts of Oklahoma and the South generally. This finding demonstrates the limited effect of legislator issue positioning on constituent attitudes.

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