washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

POLITICAL SCIENCE RESEARCH – OCTOBER 2010

From PS: Political Science and Politics

 

Symposium: Forecasts of
the 2010 Midterm Elections

Editor’s Introduction by James E. Campbell

October 2010

There is a broad consensus among
the models that the Republicans will make substantial gains in the House in the
2010 midterms. There is not a consensus, however, over how large those gains
will be. There is a 30-seat spread between the low and high end of the seat
change forecast range, with two forecasts giving an edge to Democrats in
controlling the House and three placing the odds in the Republicans’ favor.
Lewis-Beck and Tien forecast a 22-seat gain for the Republicans. Their 200
seats would leave Republicans 18 seats short of a majority. Cuzán forecasts
Republican gains of 27 to 30 seats, leaving Republicans with 205 to 208 seats
and Democrats with continued control of the House. Abramowitz predicts a
43-seat gain for the Republicans. Since he uses a 179 pre-election seat base,
this outcome would install a new Republican majority in place by five seats.
Bafumi, Erikson, and Wlezien predict that Republicans are likely to gain 51
seats, which would give Republicans 229 seats and a 12-seat majority. Finally,
my forecast is for Republicans to gain 51 or 52 seats, giving them a 12 or 13
seat majority. Whether Democrats or Republicans control the House in 2011,
their majority is likely to be much narrower than the current Democratic
majority. This may well present a roadblock to the Obama administration’s
legislative agenda and will quite probably make control of the House a real
question again in 2012.




What
Health Reform Teaches Us about American Politics

Lawrence R.
Jacobs

October 2010

ABSTRACT

The tumultuous journey of health reform from President
Barack Obama’s opening push in February 2009 to his bill signing in March 2010
may be inexplicable from afar. Swept into power on promises of change,
Democrats controlled the White House and enjoyed the largest Congressional
majorities in decades, and they agreed that the existing health care system
cost too much and delivered too little–stranding over 30 million with no health
insurance and leaving millions more with only inadequate coverage or dependent
on emergency rooms for urgent care. Unified party control and programmatic
agreement would seem like a veritable checklist of what was needed to pass
health reform legislation.

 

The
Seats in Trouble Forecast of the 2010 Elections to the U.S. House

James E. Campbella

October 2010

ABSTRACT

All indications are that 2010 will be a very good
year for Republicans. After two election setbacks, they are poised for a
comeback. Partisanship, ideology, the midterm decline from the prior
presidential surge, the partisanship of districts being defended, and even
President Obama’s approval ratings have set the stage for significant seat
gains by Republicans in the House.

 

How
Large a Wave? Using the Generic Ballot to Forecast the 2010 Midterm Elections

Alan I. Abramowitz

October 2010

ABSTRACT

As Election Day approaches, many political
commentators are asking whether the 2010 midterm elections could be a reprise
of 1994, when Republicans picked up eight seats in the Senate and 52 seats in
the House of Representatives to take control of both chambers for the first
time in 40 years. There is almost universal agreement that Republicans are
poised to make major gains in both the House and the Senate. And while the
GOP’s chances of gaining the 10 seats needed to take control of the upper
chamber appear remote, results from the generic ballot forecasting model
indicate that the 39 seats required to take back the House of Representatives
are well within reach.

 

Forecasting
House Seats from Generic Congressional Polls: The 2010 Midterm Election

Joseph Bafumia, Robert S.
Eriksona and Christopher Wleziena

October 2010

ABSTRACT

In this article, we present a forecast of the 2010
midterm House election based on information available in early July 2010. We
combine this forecast with a note of caution, explaining why electoral
circumstances might lead our forecast to err. Finally, we present guidance
regarding how to update the electoral forecast for 2010 based on new
information that will become available leading up to Election Day.

 

The
Referendum Model: A 2010 Congressional Forecast

Michael S. Lewis-Beck and Charles
Tien

October 2010

ABSTRACT

Congressional election forecasting has experienced
steady growth. Currently fashionable models stress prediction over explanation.
The independent variables do not offer a substantive account of the election
outcome. Instead, these variables are tracking variables–that is, indicators
that may trace the result but fail to explain it. The outstanding example is
the generic ballot measure, which asks respondents for whom they plan to vote
in the upcoming congressional race. While this variable correlates highly with
presidential party House seat share, it is bereft of substance. The generic
ballot measure is the archetypical tracking variable, and it holds pride of
place in the Abramowitz (2010) model. Other examples of such tracking variables
are exposed seats or lagged seats, features of the Campbell (2010) model. The difficulty with
such tracking models is twofold. First, they are not based on a theory of the
congressional vote. Second, because they are predictive models, they offer a
suboptimal forecasting instrument when compared to models specified according
to strong theory.

 

Will
the Republicans Retake the House in 2010?

Alfred G. Cuzána

October 2010

ABSTRACT

Historically, statistical models
for forecasting the outcome of midterm elections to the United States House of
Representatives have not been particularly successful (Jones and Cuzán 2006).
However, in what may have been a breakthrough, most models correctly predicted
that the Democrats would re-emerge as the majority party in 2006 (Cuzán 2007).
One successful model was estimated using 46 elections, beginning with 1914
(only the second time that 435 representatives, the present number, were
elected). The model was relatively simple, making use of national-level
variables only (Cuzán and Bundrick 2006). Using a similar model, I generated a
forecast for the 2010 midterm election. Forecasting the 2010 State Legislative
Elections

 

Forecasting the 2010 State Legislative
Elections

Carl Klarner

October 2010

ABSTRACT

This article offers forecasts made on July 22,
2010, for the 2010 state legislative elections. Most work in the election
forecasting field has been done on presidential and U.S. House elections. Less
has been done for U.S. Senate elections, and almost none for gubernatorial or
state legislative elections. This year will see much attention directed at the
43 state legislatures holding elections, because many will have the
responsibility for drawing new district lines based on the 2010 census.
Furthermore, of those chambers with elections scheduled in 2010, seven
currently contain one party with less than a 5% margin of control. With so much
at stake, these will clearly be contests to watch.

 

From Political
Psychology

A Tripartite Approach to Right-Wing Authoritarianism: The Authoritarianism-Conservatism-Traditionalism
Model

 

John Duckitt, Boris Bizumic, Stephen W. Krauss and Edna
Heled

 

October 2010

ABSTRACT

Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) has been
conceptualized and measured as a unidimensional personality construct
comprising the covariation of the three traits of authoritarian submission,
authoritarian aggression, and conventionalism. However, new approaches have
criticized this conceptualization and instead viewed these three “traits” as
three distinct, though related, social attitude dimensions. Here we extend this
approach providing clear definitions of these three dimensions as ideological
attitude constructs of Authoritarianism, Conservatism, and Traditionalism.
These dimensions are seen as attitudinal expressions of basic social values or
motivational goals that represent different, though related, strategies for
attaining collective security at the expense of individual autonomy. We report
data from five samples and three different countries showing that these three
dimensions could be reliably measured and were factorially distinct. The three
dimensions also differentially predicted interpersonal behaviour, social policy
support, and political party support. It is argued that conceptualizing and
measuring RWA as a set of three related ideological attitude dimensions may
better explain complex sociopolitical phenomena than the currently dominant
unidimensional personality based model.

Communication, Influence, and Informational Asymmetries among
Voters

T. K. Ahn, Robert Huckfeldt and John Barry Ryan

October 2010

ABSSTRACT

The costs of political information vary
dramatically across individuals, and these costs help explain why some
individuals become politically expert while others demonstrate low levels of
political knowledge and awareness. An attractive alternative, particularly for
those with high information costs, is to rely on information and advice taken
from others who are politically expert. This paper focuses on the complications
that arise when the informant and the recipient do not share preferences. A
series of small group experiments show that subjects tend to weight expertise
more heavily than shared preferences in selecting informants, thereby exposing
themselves to diverse views and biased information. Experimental subjects
employ several heuristic devices in evaluating the reliability of this
information, but depending on their own levels of information, these heuristics
often lead subjects either to dismiss advice that conflicts with their own
prior judgments or to dismiss advice that comes from an informant with
divergent preferences. Hence these heuristics produce important consequences
for patterns of political influence, as well as reducing the potential for
political change.

 

From American
Journal of Political Science

Valuing Diversity in Political Organizations: Gender and Token
Minorities in the U.S.
House of Representatives

 Kirstin Kanthak and George A. Krause

 October 2010

ABSTRACT

Political
scientists are keenly interested in how diversity influences politics, yet we
know little about how diverse groups of political actors interact. We advance a
unified theory of colleague valuation to address this puzzle. The theory
explains how minority group size affects how members of a political
organization differentially value majority and minority group colleagues,
predicting that the effect of preference divergence on individual-level
colleague valuation is greatest when the minority group is smallest. We test
this prediction using member-to-member leadership political action committee
(PAC) contributions in the U.S. House of Representatives. The results obtain
strong, albeit not uniform, support for the theory, demonstrating that the
gender gap in colleague valuations declines as preference divergence increases
in all but one instance. In contrast to conventional wisdom, the theory and
evidence indicate that women serving in the U.S. House of Representatives
receive less support from men colleagues as their ranks increase.

Inequality and the Dynamics of Public Opinion: The
Self-Reinforcing Link Between Economic Inequality and Mass Preferences

Nathan J. Kelly and Peter K. Enns

October 2010

ABSTRACT

This
article assesses the influence of income inequality on the public’s policy
mood. Recent work has produced divergent perspectives on the relationship
between inequality, public opinion, and government redistribution. One group of
scholars suggests that unequal representation of different income groups
reproduces inequality as politicians respond to the preferences of the rich.
Another group of scholars pays relatively little attention to distributional
outcomes but shows that government is generally just as responsive to the poor
as to the rich. Utilizing theoretical insights from comparative political
economy and time-series data from 1952 to 2006, supplemented with
cross-sectional analysis where appropriate, we show that economic inequality
is, in fact, self-reinforcing, but that this is fully consistent with the idea
that government tends to respond equally to rich and poor in its policy
enactments.

 

From
The Journal of Politics

 

“An
Appeal to the People”: Public Opinion and Congressional Support for the Supreme
Court

Joseph Daniel Ura and Patrick C.
Wohlfarth

October 2010

ABSTRACT

Scholars
often assert that public support for judicial authority induces Congress to
grant resources and discretion to the Supreme Court. However, the theory of
competing public agency embraced by the Constitution suggests that public
support for courts cannot, by itself, explain congressional support for
judicial authority. Instead, the logic of the separation of powers system
indicates that legislative support for the institutional capacity of courts will
be a function of public confidence in the legislature as well as evaluations of
the judiciary. We test this theory, finding that public confidence in both
Congress and the Court significantly affect congressional support for the
Supreme Court, controlling for the ideological distance between the Court and
Congress as well as the Court’s workload. The results offer a more refined and
complex view of the role of public sentiment in balancing institutional power
in American politics.

 

Engaging
Citizens: The Role of Power-Sharing Institutions

Miki Caul Kittilson and Leslie
Schwindt-Bayer

October 2010

ABSTRACT

Drawing
on established theories of comparative political institutions, we argue that
democratic institutions carry important messages that influence mass attitudes
and behaviors. Power-sharing political institutions signal to citizens that
inclusiveness is an important principle of a country’s democracy and can
encourage citizens to participate in politics. Applying multilevel modeling to
data from the World Values Survey, we test whether democratic institutions
influence political engagement in 34 countries. Further, we examine whether
underrepresented groups, specifically women, are differentially affected by the
use of power-sharing institutions such that they are more engaged in politics
than women in countries with power-concentrating institutions. We find that
disproportional electoral rules dampen engagement overall and that gender gaps
in political engagement tend to be smaller in more proportional electoral systems,
even after controlling for a host of other factors. Power-sharing institutions
can be critical for explaining gender differences in political engagement.

 

Representation
and Policy Responsiveness: The Median Voter, Election Rules, and Redistributive
Welfare Spending

Shin-Goo Kang and G. Bingham
Powell Jr.

October 2010

ABSTRACT

Many
economic and social conditions shape public welfare spending. We are able to
show, however, that after taking account of these conditions, the expressed
left-right preferences of the median voters significantly affect comparative
welfare spending. These new findings support the representational claims of
liberal democracy and the theoretical expectations of the literature on
ideological congruence. However, we also show that insofar as the preferences
of citizens and the promises of governing parties (which are highly
correlated,) can be disentangled, it is the former that affect the long-term
redistributive welfare spending equilibrium, while the latter have small, but
significant short-term effects. Surprisingly, despite greater representational
correspondence between positions of voters and governments under PR than SMD,
the impact of the median voter preferences is quite similar under the two
systems.

 

Foreign
Policy at the Ballot Box: How Citizens Use Foreign Policy to Judge and Choose
Candidates

Shana Kushner Gadariana

October 2010

ABSTRACT

This
paper uses the elections of 1980 to 2004 to illustrate that political
candidates from opposing parties face different incentives in mentioning
foreign policy during campaigns and in taking foreign policy positions. The
paper demonstrates that citizens connect their own foreign policy views clearly
to their evaluations of Republican candidates, but these same foreign policy
opinions are much less likely to affect evaluations of the Democratic party and
Democratic candidates. In addition, this paper reveals another significant
asymmetry–in a threatening environment, Americans reward candidates and parties
perceived to hold hawkish positions but even more severely punish candidates
perceived to be dovish. Using two datasets, I find that Americans’ opinions on
defense spending and diplomacy mattered significantly for the type of political
leadership the public preferred at election time.

 

The
Theory of Conditional Retrospective Voting: Does the Presidential Record Matter
Less in Open-Seat Elections?

James E. Campbell, Bryan J.
Dettrey and Hongxing Yin

October 2010

ABSTRACT

This
research tests the idea that retrospective voting in presidential elections is
conditional, that retrospective evaluations are applied more strictly to
incumbents seeking election than to in-party candidates (successor candidates)
who are not incumbents. Voters may assign only partial credit or blame for
national conditions to successor candidates because, unlike incumbents, these
candidates did not personally have power over the policies that might have
affected the national conditions leading up to the election. This theory of
conditional retrospective voting is examined at both the aggregate level on elections
since 1948 and with individual-level survey data since 1972. The analysis
consistently finds, as the theory of conditional retrospective voting contends,
that the electorate’s retrospective evaluations matter significantly more to
the vote for an incumbent than to the vote for a successor candidate of the
in-party.

 

The
Impact of Explicit Racial Cues on Gender Differences in Support for Confederate
Symbols and Partisanship

Vincent L. Hutchings, Hanes
Walton Jr. and Andrea Benjamin

October 2010

ABSTRACT

Researchers
have argued that explicit racial appeals are rejected in contemporary American
politics because they are perceived as violating the norm of racial equality.
We test this claim with an experimental design, embedded in a representative
survey of Georgia
where, until recently, the state flag featured the Confederate battle emblem.
In our experiment, we manipulate the salience of racial cues in news accounts
of the state flag controversy in Georgia. We hypothesize that women
are more likely than men to reject explicit racial appeals. We focus on the
effects of explicit messages in two areas: support for Confederate symbols and
identification with the Democratic Party. As hypothesized, when the racial
significance of this debate is made explicit support for the Confederate flag
declines, but only among women. Similarly, explicit appeals lead to lower
levels of Democratic identification among men, but among women the effects are
weaker and less consistent.

 

A
Latino on the Ballot: Explaining Coethnic Voting Among Latinos and the Response
of White Americans

Corrine M. McConnaughy, Ismail K.
White, David L. Leal and Jason P. Casellas

October 2010

ABSTRACT

In
recent campaigns, candidates have sought to attract votes from the growing
Latino electorate through ethnic cues. Yet, we know very little about the
impact of appeals to ethnicity. This article examines the role that ethnic cues
play in shaping the political opinions and choices of Latinos, as well as the
response of non-Hispanic White Americans (Anglos). We take up the simplest of
group cues, the ethnicity of the candidate. We argue that candidate ethnicity
is an explicit ethnic cue that alters the political choices of Latinos through
priming of their ethnic linked fate, but only affects Anglos through spreading
activation of primed ethnic attitudes to national identity considerations.
Evidence from an experiment that manipulated exposure to candidate ethnicity
information provides evidence for these claims. Our results help to explain
coethnic voting among Latinos and resistance to Latino candidates among Anglos.

 

Reversing
the Causal Arrow: The Political Conditioning of Economic Perceptions in the
2000-2004 U.S. Presidential Election Cycle

Geoffrey Evans and Mark Pickup

October 2010

ABSTRACT

Many
economic voting models assume that individual voters’ reactions to incumbents
are strongly conditioned by their perceptions of the performance of the
macroeconomy. However, the direction of causality between economic perceptions
and political preferences is unclear: economic perceptions can be a consequence
of incumbent support rather than an influence on it. We develop the latter
thesis by examining the dynamic relationship between retrospective economic
perceptions and several measures of political preferences–approval,
partisanship, and vote–in the 2000-2004 U.S. presidential election cycle using
the ANES 2000-2002-2004 panel study to estimate structural equation model extensions
of the Anderson and Hsiao estimator for panel data. Our findings confirm that
the conventional wisdom misrepresents the relationship between retrospective
economic perceptions and incumbent partisanship: economic perceptions are
consistently and robustly conditioned by political preferences. Individuals’
economic perceptions are influenced by their political preferences rather than
vice versa.

 

From Electoral
Studies

 

How do candidates spend their money? Objects of campaign
spending and the effectiveness of diversification


Maria Laura Sudulich and Matthew
Wall
a

October 2010

ABSTRACT

We present a novel approach to the study of
campaign effectiveness using disaggregated spending returns from the 2007 Irish
general election. While previous studies have focused on overall levels of
expenditure as a predictor of electoral success, we consider the types of activities on which
candidates spent money and the overall diversification of candidates’ campaign
expenditure as predictors of electoral success. We offer a replicable framework
for the measurement of campaign diversification as well as for the evaluation
of its effects on electoral performance. We examine how factors such as
campaign expenditure and candidates’ incumbency status condition the effects of
campaign diversification. It is shown that diversification is only related to
electoral success when campaigns are well-financed.

 

Optimists and Skeptics: Why Do People Believe in the Value
of their Single Vote?


Andre Blais and Ludovic Rheault

October 2010

ABSTRACT

We investigate the origins of voters’ beliefs
about the value of their single vote. We construe such beliefs as a function of
psychological predispositions and exposure to information about the
competitiveness of the electoral race. We test this theoretical model using
data from the 2008 Canadian federal election and a new survey question tapping
voters’ beliefs about whether their vote can make a difference. Our results
show that sense of efficacy has a strong effect, efficacious voters being more
prone to optimism. Competitiveness of the race also matters, but only among
attentive voters.

 

Electoral Losers Revisited- How Citizens React to Defeat at
the Ballot Box

Peter
Esaiasson

October 2010

ABSTRACT

The paper seeks to reconcile insights from winner-loser
gap research with mainstream understanding of election legitimacy. The paper
acknowledges that winning and losing elections creates differential incentives
for citizens to remain supportive of their political system, but it argues that
losers nevertheless have enough reasons to remain supportive in absolute terms.
Drawing on democratic theory, the paper develops a rationale for why citizens
are willing to accept electoral defeat voluntarily, and suggest a new way to
conceptualize citizen reactions to election outcomes. It presents findings from
a sample of election studies in established democracies to show that winners
typically become more supportive whereas losers at minimum retain their level
of support from before the election. It concludes that elections, when
reasonably well executed, as they most often are in established democracies,
build system support rather than undermine it.

 

From Political
Behavior

The Political Ecology of Opinion in Big-Donor Neighborhoods

Brittany H.
Bramlett
, James G. Gimpel and Frances E. Lee

October 2010

Abstract

Major campaign donors are highly
concentrated geographically. A relative handful of neighborhoods accounts for
the bulk of all money contributed to political campaigns. Public opinion in
these elite neighborhoods is very different from that in the country as a whole
and in low-donor areas. On a number of prominent political issues, the
prevailing viewpoint in high-donor neighborhoods can be characterized as
cosmopolitan and libertarian, rather than populist or moralistic. Merging
Federal Election Commission contribution data with three recent large-scale
national surveys, we find that these opinion differences are not solely the
result of big-donor areas’ high concentration of wealthy and educated
individuals. Instead, these neighborhoods have a distinctive political ecology
that likely reinforces and intensifies biases in opinion. Given that these
locales are the origin for the lion’s share of campaign donations, they may
steer the national political agenda in unrepresentative directions.

 

Partisan Differences in Opinionated News Perceptions: A Test of
the Hostile Media Effect

Lauren Feldman

October 2010

ABSTRACT

The proliferation of opinion and
overt partisanship in cable news raises questions about how audiences perceive
this content. Of particular interest is whether audiences effectively perceive
bias in opinionated news programs, and the extent to which there are partisan
differences in these perceptions. Results from a series of three online
experiments produce evidence for a relative hostile media phenomenon in the
context of opinionated news. Although, overall, audiences perceive more story
and host bias in opinionated news than in non-opinionated news, these
perceptions–particularly perceptions of the host–vary as a function of partisan
agreement with the news content. Specifically, issue partisans appear to have a
“bias against bias,” whereby they perceive less bias in opinionated news with
which they are predisposed to agree than non-partisans and especially partisans
on the other side of the issue.

 

An Elite Theory of Political Consulting and Its Implications for U.S. House
Election Competition

Sean A. Cain

October 2010

ABSTRACT

Does the hiring of political
consultants make election races more competitive? If so, why? Most scholars of
political consulting argue their expertise enhances competition; I argue that
consultant reputation also boosts competition. Many political consultants are
part of the Washington
establishment, which notices their association with candidates. In particular,
congressional candidates of the out party, especially challengers, have an
incentive to hire the most reputable consultants to signal to political elites
their viability. I demonstrate a positive empirical relationship between
out-party candidates hiring top consultants (compared to less reputable ones)
and how competitive their race is perceived by elites. These findings and
theoretical insight provide a basis for understanding the high costs of
political consultants and their impact on election outcomes.

Polarization and Issue Consistency Over Time

Andrew Garner and Harvey Palmer

October 2010

ABSTRACT

The polarization of the political
and social environment over the past four decades has provided citizens with
clearer cues about how their core political predispositions (e.g., group
interests, core values, and party identification) relate to their issue
opinions. A robust and ongoing scholarly debate has involved the different ways
in which the more polarized environment affects mass opinion. Using
heteroskedastic regression, this paper examines the effect of the increasingly
polarized environment on the variability of citizens’ policy opinions. We find
that citizens today base their policy preferences more closely upon their core
political predispositions than in the past. In addition, the predicted error
variances also allow us to directly compare two types of mass
polarization–issue distance versus issue consistency–to determine the
independent effects each has on changes in the distribution of mass opinion.

 

Education and Political Participation: Exploring the Causal Link

Adam J. Berinsky and Gabriel S. Lenz

October 2010

ABSTRACT

One of the most consistently
documented relationships in the field of political behavior is the close
association between educational attainment and political participation.
Although most research assumes that this association arises because education
causes participation, it could also arise because education proxies for the
factors that lead to political engagement: the kinds of people who participate
in politics may be the kinds of people who tend to stay in school. To test for
a causal effect of education, we exploit the rise in education levels among
males induced by the Vietnam
draft. We find little reliable evidence that education induced by the draft
significantly increases participation rates.

 

From The Forum

Forecasting Control of State Governments and Redistricting
Authority After the 2010 Elections

Carl Klarner, Indiana State
University

October 2010

ABSTRACT

This article makes forecasts for
the 2010 state legislative and gubernatorial elections. These forecasts
indicate the Republicans will add control of 15 legislative chambers and nine
governor’s offices, leaving them with 51 chambers and 32 governorships. Forecasts
about the extent of redistricting authority by the Democratic and Republican
parties indicate the Republicans will have authority over 125 U.S. House seats,
while the Democrats will have authority over 62. In a chamber level analysis of
2,141 legislative and a state level analysis of 758 gubernatorial elections,
four national forces are used in predicting election outcomes from 1950 to
present: presidential approval, change in per capita income, midterm loss, and
the percentage of respondents who say they will vote for a Democrat for the
U.S. House. The differential effect of these forces in states with the
straight-ticket option is also taken into account. Monte
Carlo simulation that takes into account states’ different rules
regarding redistricting authority is then utilized to assess how many U.S.
House seats the Democratic and Republican parties will control.

 

Building a Political Science Public Sphere with Blogs

Henry Farrell and John Sides

October 2010

ABSTRACT

We argue that political science
blogs can link conversations among political scientists with broader public
debates about contemporary issues. Political science blogs do this by
identifying relevant research, explaining its findings, and articulating its
applicability. We identify strategies besides blogging that individual scholars
and the discipline could undertake to enhance its public profile.

 

Political Science and Practical Politics: A Journalist’s Journey

Rhodes Cook

October 2010

ABSTRACT

Political journalism can serve as
a useful bridge between practical politics and political science. This article
recounts the author’s personal journey from a childhood interest in maps,
numbers and elections to a lifetime career as a political journalist. It also
illustrates the partnership that can flourish between journalism and academe in
making sense of our nation’s political scene.

 

The Politics Missed by Political Science

John R. Petrocik and Frederick T. Steeper

October 2010

ABSTRACT

This essay offers some experience-based
observations about electoral phenomena that academic political science misses
because of a focus on conceptual and theoretical debates that often take pride
of place over the empirical phenomena that gave rise to the ideas and concepts
that we highly value. We suggest that academic political science is
increasingly committed to models and methods that serve a theory or an idea
more than they account for observable empirical regularities. Practitioner
methods and innovations for persuading voters and winning elections under
varying electoral conditions are largely unknown to scholars, with consequences
for our collective factual knowledge and ability to test current hypotheses and
theories about elections in an appropriate wide range of circumstances.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.