Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Political Science (B.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Joshua Kennedy


During the course of an election cycle, candidates often deliver vague statements regarding their positions on policies. Furthermore, incumbent candidates typically have a record of obscure actions unknown to the voter. Presently, existing literature maintains ambiguity in terms of an interaction between the candidate and the constituent. According to this literature, candidates use ambiguity to exploit voter uncertainty on policy issues. However, I argue that congressional members, motivated by re-election, will act similarly to candidates by utilizing ambiguity. In this research, I propose that it is the president’s popularity that triggers a congressional member’s ambiguity. Using a method of linear regression, I measure the rate of congressional ambiguity from 1996 to 2016 to find some support for this theory.