In a new submission to Democracy Papers, Tracy Sulkin looks at the professional consequences of legislators’ bad behavior. Using a unique dataset on professional scandals and instances of incivility committed by members of the US House of Representatives, she shows that scandals and incivility are linked to stalling professional career trajectories of members of Congress. In an era of polarization and gridlock, these results indicate that Congress does retain ability to police and sanction bad behavior among its members.
Tracy Sulkin is dean of the College of Media and professor of political science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on legislative behavior and representation and she is the author of numerous articles and three books on Congress, including Issue Politics in Congress (Cambridge University Press, 2005), The Legislative Legacy of Congressional Campaigns (Cambridge University Press, 2011), and, with William Bernhard, Legislative Style (University of Chicago Press, 2018).