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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

POLITICAL SCIENCE RESEARCH – JANUARY 2010

From PS: Political Science &
Politics

 

Spotlight: Who Supports Health Reform?

David
W. Brady and Daniel P. Kessler

January
2010

Abstract

In
this article, we report results from a new study that surveyed a large,
national sample of American adults about their willingness to pay for health
reform. As in previous work, we find that self-identified Republicans, older
Americans, and high-income Americans are less supportive of reform. However,
these basic findings mask three important features of public opinion. First,
income has a substantial effect on support for reform, even holding political
affiliation constant. Indeed, income is the most important determinant of
support for reform. Second, the negative effects of income on support for
reform begin early in the income distribution, at annual family income levels
of $25,000 to $50,000. Third, although older Americans have a less favorable
view of reform than the young, much of their opposition is due to dislike of
large policy changes than to reform per se.

Obama’s Missed
Landslide: A Racial Cost?

Michael S. Lewis-Beck, Charles Tien and Richard Nadeau

January 2010

Abstract

Barack Obama was denied a landslide victory in the 2008 presidential
election. In the face of economic and political woe without precedent in the
post-World War II period, the expectation of an overwhelming win was not
unreasonable. He did win, but with just a 52.9 percentage point share of the
total popular vote. We argue a landslide was taken from Obama because of race
prejudice. In our article, we first quantify the extent of the actual Obama
margin. Then we make a case for why it should have been larger. After reviewing
evidence of racial bias in voter attitudes and behavior, we conclude that, in a
racially blind society, Obama would likely have achieved a landslide.

 

From The American Journal of Political Science

 

 

After
Enactment: The Lives and Deaths of Federal Programs

 

Christopher R. Berry, Barry C. Burden, William G. Howell

 

January 2010

ABSTRACT

While many scholars have
focused on the production of legislation, we explore life after enactment.
Contrary to the prevailing view that federal programs are indissoluble, we show
that programmatic restructurings and terminations are commonplace. In addition,
we observe significant changes in programmatic appropriations. We suggest that
a sitting congress is most likely to transform, kill, or cut programs inherited
from an enacting congress when its partisan composition differs substantially.
To test this claim, we examine the postenactment histories of every federal
domestic program established between 1971 and 2003, using a new dataset that
distinguishes program death from restructuring. Consistent with our
predictions, we find that changes in the partisan composition of congresses
have a strong influence on program durability and size. We thus dispel the
notion that federal programs are everlasting while providing a plausible
coalition-based account for their evolution.

The
New Racial Calculus: Electoral Institutions and Black Representation in Local
Legislatures

 

Melissa J. Marschall, Anirudh V. S. Ruhil
and
Paru R. Shah

 

January 2010

ABSTRACT

In this study we revisit the
question of black representation on city councils and school boards using a
novel substantive and methodological approach and longitudinal data for a
sample of over 300 boards and councils. Conceptualizing black representation as
a two-stage process, we fit Mullahy’s hurdle Poisson models to explain whether
and to what extent blacks achieve representation in local legislatures. We find
that while the size of the black population and electoral arrangements matter
more than ever, especially for overcoming the representational hurdle, the
extent to which the black population is concentrated is also strongly
associated with black council representation. Further, whereas black resources
and opportunities to build “rainbow” coalitions with Latinos or
liberal whites are marginally if at all related to black legislative
representation, we find that legislative size is an underappreciated mechanism
by which to increase representation, particularly in at-large systems, and is
perhaps the best predictor of moving towards additional representation.

 

Partisanship,
Political Control, and Economic Assessments

 

Alan S. Gerber and Gregory A. Huber

 

January 2010

ABSTRACT

Previous research shows that partisans rate
the economy more favorably when their party holds power. There are several
explanations for this association, including use of different evaluative
criteria, selective perception, selective exposure to information, correlations
between economic experiences and partisanship, and partisan bias in survey
responses. We use a panel survey around the November 2006 election to measure
changes in economic expectations and behavioral intentions after an
unanticipated shift in political power. Using this design, we can observe
whether the association between partisanship and economic assessments holds
when some leading mechanisms thought to bring it about are excluded. We find
that there are large and statistically significant partisan differences in how
economic assessments and behavioral intentions are revised immediately
following the Democratic takeover of Congress. We conclude that this pattern of
partisan response suggests partisan differences in perceptions of the economic
competence of the parties, rather than alternative mechanisms.

 

From American
Journal of Political Science

 

Using Experiments to Estimate the
Effects of Education on Voter Turnout

 

Rachel
Milstein Sondheimer and Donald P. Green

 

January
2010

Copyright © 2010 Midwest Political Science
Association

ABSTRACT

The powerful relationship between education and
voter turnout is arguably the most well-documented and robust finding in
American survey research. Yet the causal interpretation of this relationship
remains controversial, with many authors suggesting that the apparent link
between education and turnout is spurious. In contrast to previous work, which
has relied on observational data to assess the effect of education on voter
turnout, this article analyzes two randomized experiments and one
quasi-experiment in which educational attainment was altered exogenously. We
track the children in these experiments over the long term, examining their
voting rates as adults. In all three studies, we find that exogenously induced
changes in high school graduation rates have powerful effects on voter turnout
rates. These results imply that the correlation between education and turnout
is indeed causal. We discuss some of the pathways by which education may
transmit its influence
.

Ideological
Congruence and Electoral Institutions

 

Matt
Golder and Jacek Stramski

 

January
2010

Copyright © 2010 Midwest Political Science
Association

ABSTRACT

Although the literature examining the relationship
between ideological congruence and electoral rules is quite large, relatively
little attention has been paid to how congruence should be conceptualized. As
we demonstrate, empirical results regarding ideological congruence can depend
on exactly how scholars conceptualize and measure it. In addition to clarifying
various aspects of how scholars currently conceptualize congruence, we
introduce a new conceptualization and measure of congruence that captures a
long tradition in democratic theory emphasizing the ideal of having a
legislature that accurately reflects the preferences of the citizenry as a
whole. Our new measure is the direct counterpart for congruence of the
vote-seat disproportionality measures so heavily used in comparative studies of
representation. Using particularly appropriate data from the
 Comparative Study of
Electoral Systems, we find that
governments in proportional democracies are not substantively more congruent
than those in majoritarian democracies. Proportional democracies are, however,
characterized by more representative legislatures.

 

 

From The
Journal of Politics

 

Two
Types of Neutrality: Ambivalence versus Indifference and Political
Participation

Sung-jin Yoo

 

January 5,
2010

Abstract

The traditional attitude
theory has a serious flaw as a guide for the study of political behavior. It is
unable to distinguish two types of neutrality: ambivalence (balance of positive
and negative affect) and indifference (lack of either affect). A recent theory
on attitudes offers a solution with its premise that individuals are capable of
holding positive and negative attitudes about a single object simultaneously
and independently. This two-dimensional theory suggests that individuals with
an ambivalent attitude differ fundamentally from those with an indifferent
attitude. I find that ambivalent citizens are far more likely to turn out to
vote in elections than are indifferent ones. It is only indifferent
individuals, lacking any affect for parties and candidates, who exhibit the low
turnout expected of those with no clear preference. Being conflicted about
parties and candidates does not pose much of a barrier to casting a vote.

 

Mobilizing Pasadena Democrats:
Measuring The Effects of Partisan Campaign Contacts

 

R. Michael
Alvarez, Asa Hopkins and Betsy Sinclair

 

January
2010

 

ABSTRACT

 

This
paper examines the effect of an entire campaign using a randomized field
experiment where the treatment consists of campaign decisions made by a
campaign manager. In contrast to the majority of the field experiments found in
the contemporary get-out-the-vote literature, this paper studies the actual
behavior of a campaign within a particular election as opposed to studying
particular mobilization tactics. Thus, the campaign itself chooses the method
used to contact each individual within the randomly assigned treatment group.
Contacts are made via face-to-face canvassing, phone calls, e-mails, and door
hangers and consist of experienced volunteers making partisan appeals. We
observe a large treatment effect of campaign contact despite a small number of
face-to-face contacts, suggesting that the targeting strategy of the campaign
manager is particularly effective.

 

Race, Environment, and
Interracial Trust

 

Thomas
J. Rudolph and Elizabeth Popp

 

January
2010

 

ABSTRACT

 

Racial
diversity and interpersonal trust are often heralded as virtues in liberal
societies. Recent research suggests, however, that such diversity may impede
the development of interpersonal trust. Using multilevel modeling, this article
explores whether community heterogeneity is inherently inimical to the
formation of interracial trust or whether its ill effects can be mitigated or
even reversed by certain individual-level characteristics. We find minority
concentration and minority empowerment have substantively different impacts on
interracial trust and that their effects vary across racial groups. The pattern
of these effects suggests that minority concentration may not be viewed as a
threat. We further find that the negative effects of minority concentration on
interracial trust are counteracted by interracial contact. Collectively, our
results suggest that the challenges posed by racial diversity to interracial
trust are not insurmountable.

 

From The Journal
of Politics

 

The Global Economy, Competency, and the Economic Vote

Raymond
M. Duch and Randy Stevenson

January
2010

ABSTRACT

Working
within a selection model of economic voting we propose explanations for the
cross-national and dynamic variations in the magnitude of the vote that have
puzzled students of comparative voting behavior. Our theory suggests that
unexpected shocks to the economy inform the economic vote which implies that
voters are able to resolve a signal extraction problem: determine the extent to
which these shocks are the result of incumbent competency as opposed to
exogenous shocks to the economy. We assume that voters have information on the
overall variance in shocks to the macroeconomy and that they use this signal to
weight the importance of economic shocks in their vote decision. Voters are
also hypothesized to recognize that higher exposure to global trade influences
reduces the magnitude of the incumbent competency signal. We provide empirical
evidence demonstrating that voters are able to discern significant variation in
macroeconomic outcomes in order to perform this signal extraction task: We
analyze a six-nation survey conducted by the authors that was designed to
assess whether voters are attentive to variance in economic outcomes and
whether these in fact conditioned their economic vote. Secondly we examine
economic time series from 19 countries over the 1979-2005 period, demonstrating
that variances in the macroeconomic series explain contextual variations in the
economic vote as our theory hypothesizes. Finally, the essay demonstrates that
open economies, which are more subject to exogenous economic shocks, have a
smaller economic vote than countries with economies less dependent on global
trade. 

 

From Political
Behavior

 

The Contextual Causes of Issue and Party
Voting in American Presidential Elections

Benjamin Highton

January 2010 

Abstract  This paper analyzes the influence of the two most commonly
examined causes of presidential vote choice, policy preferences and party identification.
The focus is on change across elections in order to assess how the effects of
issues and partisanship respond to the larger political context in which voters
make their decisions. In contrast to party centric views of politics, I find
little direct responsiveness to party issue contrast and substantial influence
of candidate issue contrast. Further, I find that leading hypotheses for the
“resurgence in partisanship” are not consistent with some important facts
suggesting that the explanation remains elusive.

The Dynamics of Critical Realignments:
An Analysis Across Time and Space

David Darmofal 
and Peter F. Nardulli

January 2010 

ABSTRACT

 

Much of the scholarly interest in
critical realignments results from the pivotal role that ordinary citizens play
during these periods. By altering their voting behavior, citizens hold
political elites accountable and forge non-incremental change in policy
outputs. A central question regarding realignments is thus how are citizens
changing their behavior to hold elites accountable? Are citizens producing
realignments by converting from one party to the opposition? Are previous
non-voters becoming mobilized in response to emerging issues or crises? Or are
one party’s supporters disproportionately abstaining from voting and altering
the partisan balance in the process? This article makes four central
contributions to our understanding of these realignment processes, or dynamics.
We present a theoretical framework for the analysis of realignment dynamics, based
upon the Michigan model of voting and its conception of the normal vote. Where
previous dynamics studies have collectively only examined two realignments, we
examine the dynamics of all presidential realignments in American electoral
history. Where previous studies have often focused on national, sectional, or
state levels of analysis, we focus on city- and county-level realignments, a
critical advancement for an inherently local-level phenomenon such as critical
realignments. Finally, unlike previous studies, we identify the factors that
promote particular realignment dynamics. We find that the conversion of active
partisans has produced most of the enduring change in voting behavior in the
United States, with the relative contribution of different dynamics varying
both across time and space. Political factors such as the strength of state and
local parties and demographic factors such as changes in the size of local
immigrant populations have each favored particular realignment dynamics in
American electoral history.

 

Does Economic Inequality Depress Electoral Participation?
Testing the Schattschneider Hypothesis

 

Frederick Solt

 

January 2010

 

ABSTRACT  

 

Nearly a half-century ago, E.E.
Schattschneider wrote that the high abstention and large differences between
the rates of electoral participation of richer and poorer citizens found in the
United States were caused by high levels of economic inequality. Despite
increasing inequality and stagnant or declining voting rates since then,
Schattschneider’s hypothesis remains largely untested. This article takes
advantage of the variation in inequality across states and over time to remedy
this oversight. Using a multilevel analysis that combines aspects of state
context with individual survey responses in 144 gubernatorial elections, it
finds that citizens of states with greater income inequality are less likely to
vote and that income inequality increases income bias in the electorate,
lending empirical support to Schattschneider’s argument.

 

Revisiting the Political Theory of Party Identification

 

Aaron C. Weinschenk

 

January 2010

 

ABSTRACT

 

Recently, Lewis-Beck et al. (The
American Voter Revisited, 2008b) re-created The American Voter using
contemporary data. Although these scholars ultimately conclude that voters
today behave in ways that are consistent with the account of voting behavior
presented in The American Voter, their work nonetheless highlights the
importance and value of re-examining past ideas. Given that Lewis-Beck et al.
have re-tested the findings of The American Voter, it is both timely and
worthwhile to re-examine Fiorina’s (Retrospective voting in American national
elections, 1981) political theory of party identification, which is often seen
as a critique of the theory of party identification presented in The American
Voter, using newly available panel data. In this paper, I re-examine Fiorina’s
(Retrospective voting in American national elections, 1981) political theory of
party identification using data from the 2000-2002-2004 NES panel study. In
addition to applying Fiorina’s approach to party identification to new data, as
a more robust test of Fiorina’s theory, I develop a model of party
identification where changes in party identification are modeled as a function
of the actual changes in retrospective political evaluations. Overall, my
findings are broadly consistent with the findings from Fiorina’s original model
of party identification; however, my analysis suggests that the distribution of
opinions in the electorate and elite signals may be important to changes in
party identification.  

 

 

From
Political Psychology

 

 

Predicting the Vote through Implicit and Explicit
Attitudes: A Field Research

 

Michele Roccato and Cristina Zogmaister

 

January 2010

ABSTRACT

Using the data collected by Itanes
on a sample of the Italian population, representative according to the main
sociodemographic variables, we analyzed the relations between voting intention,
explicit and implicit political attitudes, and voting behavior. Participants (N = 1,377) were interviewed twice, both before and
after the 2006 Italian National Election. The implicit attitudes (measured
using the IAT) were substantially as effective as voting intention, and more
effective than the explicit attitudes towards the main Italian political
leaders, in forecasting the Election official results. When used to predict
participants’ voting behavior, the IAT added a significant, although slight,
power to voting intention and explicit attitude. Inconsistency between explicit
and implicit attitudes exerted a negative influence on the probability of
having decided one’s voting behavior in the preelectoral poll; however, among
undecided participants, it did not significantly influence the probability of
delaying one’s voting decision and that of actually casting a valid vote.
Limits and possible developments of this research are discussed.

 

From Political
Science Quarterly

 

Changes in Public Opinion and the American Welfare State

Greg M. Shaw

January 2010

ABSTRACT

Analyzes the
relationship between American public opinion and several redistributive
programs from the beginning of the 1990s to the present. He concludes that the
recent political success of these programs has more to do with the workforce
attachment of the recipients and the nature of the assistance–cash versus
in-kind–than it does with means testing

 

 

From
Presidential Studies Quarterly

 

 

Polls and Elections: What’s the Matter with the White Working
Class? The Effects of Union Membership in the 2004 Presidential Election

 

Peter L.
Francia and Nathan S. Bigelow

 

January 2010

ABSTRACT

Thomas Frank asserts that the Republican Party built a
winning coalition in recent elections by convincing white working-class voters
to cast their ballots on the basis of cultural wedge issues. Larry Bartels,
conversely, argues that economic issues remain paramount to white working-class
voters. The authors contend that the white working class is a more diverse bloc
than both Frank’s and Bartels’s analyses suggest. Using data from the 2004
National Election Pool, their results show that there are significant political
differences between white working-class voters in union households and those in
nonunion households.

 

From Political Science &
Politics

 

Who
Supports Health Reform?

David W. Brady
and Daniel P. Kessler Stanford University

 

January 2010

ABSTRACT

In this article, we report results
from a new study that surveyed a large, national sample of American adults
about their willingness to pay for health reform. As in previous work, we find
that self-identified Republicans, older Americans, and high-income Americans
are less supportive of reform. However, these basic findings mask three
important features of public opinion. First, income has a substantial effect on
support for reform, even holding political affiliation constant. Indeed, income
is the most important determinant of support for reform. Second, the negative
effects of income on support for reform begin early in the income distribution,
at annual family income levels of $25,000 to $50,000. Third, although older
Americans have a less favorable view of reform than the young, much of their
opposition is due to dislike of large policy changes than to reform per se.

Obama’s
Missed Landslide: A Racial Cost?

Michael S.
Lewis-Beck
, Charles
Tien and Richard Nadeau

 

January 2010

ABSTRACT

Barack Obama was denied a landslide victory in the
2008 presidential election. In the face of economic and political woe without
precedent in the post-World War II period, the expectation of an overwhelming
win was not unreasonable. He did win, but with just a 52.9 percentage point
share of the total popular vote. We argue a landslide was taken from Obama
because of race prejudice. In our article, we first quantify the extent of the
actual Obama margin. Then we make a case for why it should have been larger.
After reviewing evidence of racial bias in voter attitudes and behavior, we
conclude that, in a racially blind society, Obama would likely have achieved a
landslide.

 

From the
British Journal of Political Science

 

The Attribution of Credit and Blame to
Governments and Its Impact on Vote Choice

Michael Marsh
and James Tilley

 

January 2010

ABSTRACT

This article examines how voters attribute
credit and blame to governments for policy success and failure, and how this
affects their party support. Using panel data from Britain between 1997 and
2001 and Ireland between 2002 and 2007 to model attribution, the interaction
between partisanship and evaluation of performance is shown to be crucial.
Partisanship resolves incongruities between party support and policy evaluation
through selective attribution: favoured parties are not blamed for policy
failures and less favoured ones are not credited with policy success.
Furthermore, attributions caused defections from Labour over the 1997-2001
election cycle in Britain, and defections from the Fianna Fáil/Progressive
Democrat coalition over the 2002-07 election cycle in Ireland. Using models of
vote switching and controlling for partisanship to minimize endogeneity
problems, it is shown that attributed evaluations affect vote intention much
more than unattributed evaluations. This result holds across several policy
areas and both political systems.

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