October 24, 2020

Is tough‐on‐China campaign rhetoric cheap talk or a signal of policy attention? Analyzing China‐related campaign advertisements during the 2010 midterm elections and subsequent cosponsorship of China‐related bills, we find that campaign ads are a noisy predictor of legislative attention. Challengers who attacked on China were more likely to cosponsor China‐related legislation, while incumbents who were attacked for being soft on China took tougher positions on China after reelection. By demonstrating the correspondence between anti‐China campaign appeals and subsequent legislative attention, our findings add to a growing body of evidence linking campaign rhetoric to members’ legislative agendas. This research note provides the first evidence demonstrating the connection between campaign appeals and legislative attention on a foreign policy issue like China.

Amber Wichowsky Jessica Chen Weiss  -  First published: 19 October 2020  https://doi.org/10.1111/lsq.12307


Jessica Chen Weiss

Jessica Chen Weiss is Associate Professor of Government at Cornell University. She is the author of Powerful Patriots: Nationalist Protest in China’s Foreign Relations (Oxford University Press, 2014). The dissertation on which it is based won the 2009 American Political Science Association Award for best dissertation in international relations, law and politics.

Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in International OrganizationChina QuarterlyJournal of Conflict Resolutionand Security StudiesHer research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Cornell Einaudi Center, Cornell Center for Social Sciences, Uppsala University, Princeton-Harvard China & The World Program, Bradley Foundation, Fulbright-Hays program, and University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation.

Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Weiss received her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego. Before joining Cornell, she was an assistant professor at Yale University (2009-2015) and founded FACES, the Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford, while an undergraduate at Stanford University. Learn more about her research and writing at www.jessicachenweiss.com