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Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

POLITICAL SCIENCE RESEARCH – MAY 2010

From Political Behavior

 

The Role of Media Distrust in
Partisan Voting

Jonathan McDonald Ladd

May 2010

 

ABSTRACT  

As an institution, the American news media have become highly unpopular in
recent decades. Yet, we do not thoroughly understand the consequences of this
unpopularity for mass political behavior. While several existing studies find
that media trust moderates media effects, they do not examine the consequences
of this for voting. This paper explores those consequences by analyzing voting
behavior in the 2004 presidential election. It finds, consistent with most
theories of persuasion and with studies of media effects in other contexts,
that media distrust leads voters to discount campaign news and increasingly
rely on their partisan predispositions as cues. This suggests that increasing
aggregate levels of media distrust are an important source of greater partisan
voting.

The Enduring Effects of Social
Pressure: Tracking Campaign Experiments Over a Series of Elections

Tiffany C. Davenport, Alan S. Gerber,
Donald P. Green, Christopher W. Larimer,
Christopher B. Mann and Costas Panagopoulos

May 2010

ABSTRACT  

Recent field experiments have demonstrated the powerful effect of social
pressure messages on voter turnout. This research note considers the question
of whether these interventions’ effects persist over a series of subsequent
elections. Tracking more than one million voters from six experimental studies,
we find strong and statistically significant enduring effects one and sometimes
two years after the initial communication

Considering Mixed Mode Surveys for
Questions in Political Behavior: Using the Internet and Mail to Get Quality
Data at Reasonable Costs

Lonna Rae Atkeson, Alex N. Adams,
Lisa A. Bryant, Luciana Zilberman and Kyle L. Saunders

May 2010

ABSTRACT  

Telephone surveys have been a principle means of learning about the
attitudes and behaviors of citizens and voters. The single mode telephone
survey, however, is increasingly threatened by rising costs, the declining use
of landline telephones, and declining participation rates. One solution to
these problems has been the introduction of mixed-mode surveys. However, such
designs are relatively new and questions about their representativeness and the
intricacies of the methodology remain. We report on the representativeness of a
post election mixed-mode (Internet and mail) survey design of 2006 general
election voters. We compare sample respondent means to sample frame means on
key demographic characteristics and examine how mail and Internet respondents
differed in terms of attitudes, behaviors and demographics. We find that
overall the Internet respondents were representative of the population and that
respondent choice of mode did not influence item response. We conclude that
mixed-mode designs may allow researchers to ask important questions about
political behavior from their desktops.

Timing Is Everything? Primacy and
Recency Effects in Voter Mobilization Campaigns

Costas Panagopoulos

May 2010

ABSTRACT  

The timing of message delivery in political campaigns is a key component of
strategy. Yet studies that examine the impact of message timing on political
behavior are surprisingly rare. Although one recent study finds that appeals
delivered closer to Election Day will be most effective (Nickerson, American
Journal of Political Science 51(2):269-282, 2007), methodological
considerations render this conclusion tentative and suggest the impact of
message timing remains an open question. In this paper I report the results of
a randomized field experiment designed to compare the mobilization effects of
nonpartisan messages delivered via commercial phone banks at different points
during a campaign cycle. The results of the experiment, conducted during the
November 2005 municipal elections in Rochester, New York, suggest calls
delivered early on during a campaign cycle can also be effective.

Explicit Evidence on the Import of
Implicit Attitudes: The IAT and Immigration Policy Judgments

Efrén O. Pérez

May 2010

ABSTRACT

The implicit association test (IAT) is increasingly used to detect automatic
attitudes. Yet a fundamental question remains about this measure: How well can
it predict individual judgments? Though studies find that IAT scores shape
individual evaluations, these inquiries do not account for an array of
well-validated, theoretically relevant variables, thus raising the challenge of
omitted variable bias. For scholars using the IAT, the risk here is one of
misattributing to implicit attitudes what can be better explained by alternate
and rigorous self-reports of explicit constructs. This paper examines the IAT’s
performance in the context of U.S. immigration politics. Using a representative
web survey of adults, I demonstrate the IAT effectively captures implicit
attitude toward Latino immigrants. Critically, I then show these attitudes
substantively mold individual preferences for illegal and legal immigration
policy, net of political ideology, socio-economic concerns, and
well-established measures of intolerance toward immigrants, such as
authoritarianism and ethnocentrism. Combined, these results suggest the IAT
measures attitudes that are non-redundant and potent predictors of individual
political judgments.

 

From Political Psychology

 

Basic Personal Values, Core Political Values, and Voting: A
Longitudinal Analysis

Shalom H. Schwartz, Gian Vittorio Caprara and
Michele Vecchione

May 2010

ABSTRACT

We theorize that political values express basic personal values
in the domain of politics. We test a set of hypotheses that specify how the
motivational structure of basic values constrains and gives coherence to core
political values. We also test the hypothesis that core political values
mediate relations of basic personal values to voting demonstrated in previous
research. We measured the basic personal values, core political values, and
vote of Italian adults both before (n = 1699)
and after (n = 1030) the 2006 national election.
Basic values explained substantial variance in each of eight political values
(22% to 53%) and predicted voting significantly. Correlations and an MDS
projection of relations among basic values and political values supported the
hypothesized coherent structuring of core political values by basic values.
Core political values fully mediated relations of basic values to voting,
supporting a basic values–political values–voting causal hierarchy.


Legitimizing the
“War on Terror”: Political Myth in Official-Level Rhetoric

Joanne Esch

May 2010

ABSTRACT

This paper argues that mythical discourse affects
political practice by imbuing language with power, shaping what people consider
to be legitimate, and driving the determination to act. Drawing on Bottici’s
(2007
) philosophical understanding of political myth as a process of work
on a common narrative that answers the human need to ground events in significance,
it contributes to the study of legitimization in political discourse by
examining the role of political myth in official-level U.S. war
rhetoric. It explores how two ubiquitous yet largely invisible political myths,
American Exceptionalism and Civilization vs.
Barbarism
, which have long defined America’s ideal image of itself and
its place in the world, have become staples in the language of the “War on
Terror.” Through a qualitative analysis of the content of over 50 official
texts containing lexical triggers of the two myths, this paper shows that
senior officials of the Bush Administration have rhetorically accessed these
mythical representations of the world in ways that legitimize and normalize the
practices of the “War on Terror.”


Authoritarianism,
Social Dominance, and Other Roots of Generalized Prejudice

Sam McFarland

May 2010

ABSTRACT

The search for the personological roots of generalized prejudice
(or ethnocentrism) began with the authoritarian personality, but in recent
years, the twin constructs of right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance
orientation have been widely treated as the dual processes that lead to
generalized prejudice. However, studies conducted for this article show that
other constructs, notably empathy and principled moral reasoning, contribute
important additional variance. Whereas authoritarianism and social dominance
positively predict generalized prejudice, empathy and principled moral
reasoning are related negatively to it. For the final study, a structural model
of these relationships was tested. To fully understand individual differences
in the propensity for generalized prejudice, it is necessary to move beyond the
dual processes union of authoritarianism and social dominance.

 

From American Political Science
Review

 

Electoral Markets,
Party Strategies, and Proportional Representation

Carles Boix

May 2010

ABSTRACT

Following Kreuzer’s (2010) methodological pleas, I first
reflect, at the conceptual level, on the ways in which historical research and
political science should be related to each other. I then apply some of those
considerations to examine two key “moments” in the theory (and history) of
institutional choice that I first presented in Boix (1999): the underlying
conditions that shaped the interests of different parties toward proportional
representation, and the process through which those interests were translated
into actual legislative decisions.

Activists
and Conflict Extension in American Party Politics

Geoffrey C. Layman, Thomas M. Carsey, John C. Green, Richard Herrera and
Rosalyn Cooperman

May 2010

ABSTRACT

Party activists have played a leading role in
“conflict extension”–the polarization of the parties along multiple issue
dimensions–in contemporary American politics. We argue that open nomination
systems and the ambitious politicians competing within those systems encourage
activists with extreme views on a variety of issue dimensions to become
involved in party politics, thus motivating candidates to take noncentrist
positions on a range of issues. Once that happens, continuing activists with
strong partisan commitments bring their views into line with the new candidate
agendas, thus extending the domain of interparty conflict. Using
cross-sectional and panel surveys of national convention delegates, we find
clear evidence for conflict extension among party activists, evidence
tentatively suggesting a leading role for activists in partisan conflict
extension more generally, and strong support for our argument about change
among continuing activists. Issue conversion among activists has contributed
substantially to conflict extension and party commitment has played a key role
in motivating that conversion.

Estimating the
Electoral Effects of Voter Turnout

Thomas G. Hansford and Brad T. Gomez

May 2010

ABSTRACT

This article examines the electoral consequences of
variation in voter turnout in the United States. Existing scholarship focuses
on the claim that high turnout benefits Democrats, but evidence supporting this
conjecture is variable and controversial. Previous work, however, does not
account for endogeneity between turnout and electoral choice, and thus, causal
claims are questionable. Using election day rainfall as an instrumental
variable for voter turnout, we are able to estimate the effect of variation in turnout
due to across-the-board changes in the utility of voting. We re-examine the
Partisan Effects and Two-Effects Hypotheses, provide an empirical test of an
Anti-Incumbent Hypothesis, and propose a Volatility Hypothesis, which posits
that high turnout produces less predictable electoral outcomes. Using
county-level data from the 1948-2000 presidential elections, we find support
for each hypothesis. Failing to address the endogeneity problem would lead
researchers to incorrectly reject all but the Anti-Incumbent Hypothesis. The
effect of variation in turnout on electoral outcomes appears quite meaningful.
Although election-specific factors other than turnout have the greatest
influence on who wins an election, variation in turnout significantly affects
vote shares at the county, national, and Electoral College levels.

 

From Electoral Studies

 

The 2009 Mexican
Midterm Congressional Elections

Joseph L. Klesner

May 2010.

ABSTRACT

In Mexico’s 5 July 2009 midterm congressional elections
the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) made significant gains in the lower
house of the Mexican federal congress and in state and local elections held the
same day. In addition, a high percentage of voters cast deliberately nullified
votes to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with existing choices among the
parties. The elections were a setback for President Felipe Calderon of the
National Action Party.

Resource spending
over time in competitions for electoral support

Alex Coram

May 2010

ABSTRACT

So far we have little by way of a theoretical
understanding of the dynamics of electoral competition. This paper attempts to
fill some of this gap by studying resource expenditure over the electoral
cycle. Among the main results is that, when contributions are independent of support
parties accelerate expenditure during the entire period between elections, even
when voters do not forget. If contributions depend on support, and are
significant, parties front load expenditure and decelerate.

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