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Friday, November 30, 2012

Back to the campaign

 

Does Money Buy Votes? The Case of Self-Financed Gubernatorial Candidates, 1998-2008

Adam Brown
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Because campaign spending correlates strongly with election results, observers of American politics frequently lament that money seems to buy votes. However, the apparent effect of spending on votes is severely inflated by omitted variable bias: The best candidates also happen to be the best fundraisers. Acting strategically, campaign donors direct their funds toward the "best" candidates, who would be more likely to win even in a moneyless world. These donor behaviors spuriously amplify the correlation between spending and votes. As evidence for this argument, I show that (non-strategic) self-financed spending has no statistical effect on election results, whereas (strategic) externally-financed spending does.

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Understanding Persuasion and Activation in Presidential Campaigns: The Random Walk and Mean Reversion Models

Noah Kaplan, David Park & Andrew Gelman
Presidential Studies Quarterly, December 2012, Pages 843-866

Abstract:
Political campaigns are commonly understood as random walks, during which, at any point in time, the level of support for any party or candidate is equally likely to go up or down. Each shift in the polls is then interpreted as the result of some combination of news and campaign strategies. A completely different story of campaigns is the mean reversion model in which the elections are determined by fundamental factors of the economy and partisanship; the role of the campaign is to give voters a chance to reach their predetermined positions. Using a new approach to analyze individual level poll data from recent presidential elections, we find that the fundamentals predict vote intention increasingly well as campaigns progress, which is consistent with the mean reversion model, at least at the time scale of months. We discuss the relevance of this finding to the literature on persuasion and activation effects.

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Testing Models of Distributive Politics using Exit Polls to Measure Voters' Preferences and Partisanship

Valentino Larcinese, James Snyder & Cecilia Testa
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article tests several hypotheses about distributive politics by studying the distribution of federal spending across US states over the period 1978-2002. It improves on previous work by using survey data to measure the share of voters in each state that are Democrats, Republicans and Independents, or liberals, conservatives and moderates. No evidence is found that the allocation of federal spending to the states is distorted by strategic manipulation to win electoral support. States with many swing voters are not advantaged compared to states with more loyal voters, and 'battleground states' are not advantaged compared to other states. Spending appears to have little or no effect on voters' choices, while partisanship and ideology have large effects.

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Correct Voting in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Nominating Elections

Richard Lau
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Criticisms of the system by which the American political parties select their candidates focus on issues of representativeness - how choices are dominated by relatively small numbers of ideologically extreme primary voters, or how residents of small states voting early in the process have disproportionate influence. This paper adds a different concern, albeit one that still addresses representativeness. How well do primary and caucus voters represent their own values and interests with their vote choices? Lau and Redlawsk's notion of "correct voting" is applied to the 2008 U.S. nominating contests. Four reasons to expect levels of correct voting to be lower in caucus and primary elections than in general election campaigns are discussed. Results suggest that voters in U.S. nominating contests do much worse than voters in general election campaigns, often barely doing better than chance in selecting the candidate who best represents their own values and priorities. Discussion focuses on institutional reforms that should improve citizens' ability to make correct voting choices in caucuses and primaries.

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An Experimental Test for "Backlash" Against Social Pressure Techniques Used to Mobilize Voters

Richard Matland & Gregg Murray
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research explores the possibility of psychological reactance, or "backlash," against political candidates who use social pressure to mobilize voters. There is a compelling theoretical argument and solid empirical evidence suggesting social pressure substantially increases voter turnout. There is, however, equally noteworthy evidence suggesting social pressure frequently stimulates a negative reaction in targets. This research uses a lab-in-the-field experimental design that employs a hypothetical social pressure message to evaluate whether a candidate's use of social pressure to turnout voters may increase anger and hostility toward that candidate, possibly to the point it increases the likelihood a citizen will actually vote against that candidate. Our findings indicate social pressure mobilization techniques evoke consequential psychological reactance against their sponsor. Until future research can further assess these effects, we suggest social pressure mobilization techniques should be used by campaigns only after careful consideration.

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Do Robotic Calls From Credible Sources Influence Voter Turnout or Vote Choice? Evidence From a Randomized Field Experiment

Daron Shaw et al.
Journal of Political Marketing, Fall 2012, Pages 231-245

Abstract:
The effectiveness of prerecorded phone calls was assessed in the context of a Texas Republican primary election that featured a contest for state Supreme Court. Automated calls endorsing one of the judicial candidates were recorded by the sitting Republican governor and directed at more than a quarter million people identified as likely voters and probable supporters of the governor. Two experimental designs were used to evaluate the calls' effectiveness. The first design randomly assigned households to treatment and control conditions in order to gauge the calls' effects on individuals' voter turnout, as measured by public records. The second design randomly assigned precincts to treatment and control conditions in order to assess whether the calls increased the precinct-level vote margin of the endorsed candidate. Results suggest that the automated calls had weak and statistically insignificant effects on turnout and vote margins.

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Primary Voters Versus Caucus Goers and the Peripheral Motivations of Political Participation

Eitan Hersh
Political Behavior, December 2012, Pages 689-718

Abstract:
Depending on their state of residence, Americans can participate in Presidential nomination contests either by voting in a primary or by attending a caucus. Since caucus participation requires more time and effort than primary voting, it has long been thought that caucuses must attract a more partisan, activist, and politically extreme cohort of citizens than primaries. This paper challenges the view that more burdensome electoral institutions necessarily ought to attract more politically engaged citizens. I propose a theory of peripheral motivations that predicts caucus goers and primary voters will not differ in terms of their political attitudes or interest, but they will differ in their levels of community engagement. The key insight is that many of the reasons why citizens choose to participate or abstain from politics actually have little to do with politics. Analysis of two surveys from the 2008 Presidential election substantiates the theoretical expectations.

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Heuristics Behaving Badly: Party Cues and Voter Knowledge

Logan Dancey & Geoffrey Sheagley
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Party cues provide citizens with low-cost information about their representatives' policy positions. But what happens when elected officials deviate from the party line? Relying on the 2006 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES), we examine citizens' knowledge of their senators' positions on seven high-profile roll-call votes. We find that although politically interested citizens are the group most likely to know their senator's position when she votes with the party, they are also the group most likely to incorrectly identify their senator's position when she votes against her party. The results indicate that when heuristics "go bad," it is the norm for the most attentive segment of the public to become the most misinformed, revealing an important drawback to heuristic use.

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Risk Attitudes, Candidate Characteristics, and Vote Choice

Cindy Kam & Elizabeth Simas
Public Opinion Quarterly, Winter 2012, Pages 747-760

Abstract:
The act of voting is much like a gamble: Voters can never be certain about where candidates stand or what they will actually do once in office. In this note, we argue that there is theoretically interesting heterogeneity in risk attitudes among the mass public - heterogeneity that has important electoral consequences. We hypothesize that risk-averse voters will be drawn to candidates who offer certainty and stability, whereas risk-accepting voters will be more willing to support candidates characterized by uncertainty and change. Utilizing data from the 2008-2009 ANES Panel Study, we show that individual risk attitudes significantly influence support for challenger candidates in the 2008 U.S. House races. We then unpack this empirical relationship between risk attitudes and willingness to support challenger candidates using two additional data sets. These supplementary analyses suggest that the relationship between risk attitudes and willingness to support challengers may be partly attributable to the fact that challengers represent a departure from the status quo and typically have less governing experience. In short, challengers represent a gamble that the more risk accepting are more willing to take.

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Voting by Mail and Turnout in Oregon: Revisiting Southwell and Burchett

Paul Gronke & Peter Miller
American Politics Research, November 2012, Pages 976-997

Abstract:
In the most widely cited result on the turnout effects of voting by mail, Southwell and Burchett report that Oregon's system increased turnout by 10 percentage points. We attempt to replicate this finding and extend the analysis to additional years to test whether the originally reported effect is due to the novelty of the first three voting by mail elections in 1995 and 1996. We are unable to reproduce earlier findings, either via replication or extending the time series to include 2010 electoral data. We find evidence for a novelty effect when all elections between 1960 and 2010 are included in our analysis, and a consistent impact of voting by mail on turnout only in special elections.

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Does Voting Rights Affect the Political Maturity of 16- and 17-year-olds? Findings from the 2011 Norwegian Voting-Age Trial

Johannes Bergh
Electoral Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
A key question in an ongoing debate about voting age is whether people below the age of 18 are politically mature enough to take part in elections. Previous research indicate that 16- and 17-year-olds are not as mature as other voters when the voting age is at 18 (Chan and Clayton 2006), but that such age differences are evened out when 16-year olds are given the right to vote (Wagner et. al. 2012). This paper tests that hypothesis by utilizing data from a Norwegian trial in which the voting age was lowered from 18 to 16 in some municipalities. The results are that there is a significant gap in maturity between 16- and 17- year olds and older voters. There is no evidence to indicate that adolescent maturity levels go up when the voting age is lowered.

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Negative Advertising and Voter Choice: The Role of Ads in Candidate Selection

Yanna Krupnikov
Political Communication, Fall 2012, Pages 387-413

Abstract:
Selecting between two candidates during a campaign is a crucial first step toward political involvement: an individual who does not select a preferred political candidate is unlikely to take political action. Can negative campaign ads help individuals make these electoral choices? Empirical evidence on this topic has been mixed. Some argue that negativity can increase the likelihood of choice. Others show that negativity will decrease the likelihood of choice by turning individuals away from the polls. Integrating theories from social psychology and political science I argue and show that under specific conditions, negativity increases the likelihood that an individual will make a candidate selection. Further, I differentiate between the tone and substance of ads to show that negativity has a unique effect on choice.

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Celebrity and politics: Effects of endorser credibility and sex on voter attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors

David Morin, James Ivory & Meghan Tubbs
Social Science Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
While much research examines the effects of celebrity endorsements in commercial advertising, scholars have only recently sought to investigate the effects of celebrity endorsements of politicians on voter perceptions and behavior. This study expands existing research on celebrity political endorsement effects via an experiment exploring effects of different versions of a news story describing a celebrity's endorsement of a political candidate on participants' voting attitudes, perceptions of candidate credibility, and voting behavioral intent. Although participants perceive credibility differences between high- and low-credibility celebrities, neither endorser credibility nor endorser sex impact attitudes toward the endorsed candidate, perceptions of the candidate's credibility, or intended voting behavior. Conceptual relationships to other studies on celebrity endorsement effects are discussed, as are implications, limitations, and directions for future research.

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Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites: A Study of Race-Based Residual Vote Rates in Chicago

Michael Herron
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study inquires as to the nature of racial regularities in residual voting that exist under post-Help America Vote Act conditions. Even with modern, optical scan voting machines, there were significant differences among black, Hispanic, and white residual vote rates in the city of Chicago during the Municipal Election of 2011 and the Illinois General Election of 2010. Moreover, these residual vote rates varied with the availability of, respectively, black, Hispanic, and white candidates for office. Hispanics often had the highest residual vote rates among the three major race groups in Chicago, and there were instances in the aforementioned 2011 and 2010 Chicago elections in which a group of voters chose not to vote for anyone rather than vote for a dominant candidate of a different race than the voters themselves. Thus, even holding constant electoral administration and voting technology, the role of race in residual voting remains prominent.

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Comedy Types and Political Campaigns: The Differential Influence of Other-Directed Hostile Humor and Self-Ridicule on Candidate Evaluations

Amy Becker
Mass Communication and Society, November/December 2012, Pages 791-812

Abstract:
The current study assesses the effect of exposure to diverse comedy types, measuring the differential impact of other-directed hostile humor and self-ridicule on feelings toward John McCain. Specifically, the analyses use experimental data collected in 2009 to compare the differential impact of viewing a video clip of John McCain's playful self-satire on Saturday Night Live with the effects of exposure to the more aggressive, judgmental, other-directed hostile humor of Stephen Colbert. The results suggest that viewers cool toward McCain after exposure to Stephen Colbert's other-directed hostile humor. Additional analyses show that the effect of exposure to varied types of political humor is direct and relatively impervious to moderation by political partisanship. Implications of the findings and their ability to help researchers understand the differential influence of varied comedy message types on political evaluations and attitudes is discussed.

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Social Capital and Voter Turnout: Evidence from Saint's Day Fiestas in Mexico

Matthew Atkinson & Anthony Fowler
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Social capital and community activity are thought to increase voter turnout, but reverse causation and omitted variables may bias the results of previous studies. This article exploits saint's day fiestas in Mexico as a natural experiment to test this causal relationship. Saint's day fiestas provide temporary but large shocks to the connectedness and trust within a community, and the timing of these fiestas is quasi-random. For both cross-municipality and within-municipality estimates, saint's day fiestas occurring near an election decrease turnout by 2.5 to 3.5 percentage points. So community activities that generate social capital can inhibit political participation. These findings may give pause to scholars and policy makers who assume that such community activity and social capital will improve the performance of democracy.

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What You See Is What You Get: Drawing Inferences From Campaign Imagery

Nathaniel Swigger
Political Communication, Fall 2012, Pages 367-386

Abstract:
Can images in campaign ads change voter perceptions of candidates? I use a series of controlled experiments to demonstrate that viewers make inferences about a candidate based on the types of people depicted in campaign ads. Viewers were more likely to believe that the candidate supported political benefits for certain demographic or professional groups when images of group members were included in campaign ads. They were also more likely to characterize the candidate as liberal or conservative, depending on the ideological reputation of the group pictured.

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Competitive Equilibrium in Markets for Votes

Alessandra Casella, Aniol Llorente-Saguer & Thomas Palfrey
Journal of Political Economy, August 2012, Pages 593-658

Abstract:
We develop a competitive equilibrium theory of a market for votes. Before voting on a binary issue, individuals may buy and sell their votes with each other. We define the concept of ex ante vote-trading equilibrium and show by construction that an equilibrium exists. The equilibrium we characterize always results in dictatorship if there is any trade, and the market for votes generates welfare losses, relative to simple majority voting, if the committee is large enough or the distribution of values is not very skewed. We test the theoretical implications in the laboratory using a continuous open-book multiunit double auction.

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The British General Election of 2010 Under Different Voting Rules

Paul Abramson et al.
Electoral Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
The 2010 British election resulted in what the British call a "hung Parliament" for the first time in over a generation. This result heightened the debate over the fairness and utility of the nation's centuries old first-past-the-post (FPTP) system. To evaluate FPTP, we use survey data from the campaign wave of the 2010 British Election Study (BES). These data allow for the generation of a respondent preference ordering for each of the parties. We use these preference orderings to simulate the election as if it were a national election using four different electoral systems beyond FPTP: proportional representation (PR); round-robin pair-wise voting (in search of a Condorcet winner), the Borda count, and two versions of the single-transferable vote (STV), the alternative vote and Coombs' method. Results suggest that in 2010, the Liberal-Democrats were Condorcet preferred to all other parties, and would have won a national election under Condorcet, Borda, and Coombs, and would have done better under PR. Ironically, they would have benefitted from any of these methods over the FPTP actually used, except for the alternative vote, the method supported by the Liberal-Democrats during the referendum in May 2011.

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Social Information and Bandwagon Behavior in Voting: An Economic Experiment

Ivo Bischoff & Henrik Egbert
Journal of Economic Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We present the first economic experiment on bandwagon behavior in voting. Subjects are given an individual endowment and vote by majority rule to either keep the endowment for private use or to donate it to a non-governmental organization. In our experiment, participants are divided at random in two treatments. Individuals in both treatments are provided with true yet diverging information regarding the approval rates observed in previous experimental sessions. Our results show that the voting behavior differs across treatments in a way that is consistent with bandwagon voting. They also confirm the importance of instrumental motives and - unlike the majority of previous experiments - find support for expressive voting motives. Finally, we assess the impact of the false-consensus effect from a theoretical perspective. We show that it has the potential to change voter behavior if it results from an anchoring bias and voters follow non-instrumental motives.

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The Formation of Voting Habits

Elias Dinas
Journal of Elections, Public Opinion & Parties, Fall 2012, Pages 431-456

Abstract:
Rather than adhering to the cost-benefit calculus often employed in the study of turnout, a recent stream in this literature refers to voting as habit forming. The empirical findings supporting this developmental approach are still scarce, however. Using voting-age discontinuities among almost equally aged individuals, this study enables the identification of the effect of voting in one election on turnout in future elections. Tracing individuals for more than 30 years of their lives, the long-term effect of early voting experiences on people's turnout profiles is also examined. The findings show early voting experiences shape future voting profiles. Moreover, casting a ballot does not boost non-electoral participation.

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If Everyone Votes Their Party, Why Do Presidential Election Outcomes Vary So Much?

Daron Shaw
The Forum, October 2012

"This essay considers a simple question: why have recent elections in the U.S. produced such disparate results, given the power and stability of partisan attachments? The data confirm that people do vote their party attachments, and that while persuasion has occurred in recent elections, it can probably account for only 2-3 points of the swing. Mobilization, especially differential mobilization of Democrats and Republicans, seems to be at the heart of the explanation for volatility in the presidential vote. Furthermore, the existence of a large peripheral electorate in the U.S. suggests that mobilization is likely to drive future changes in the American party system."

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In Search of Enduring Information Effects: Evidence from a Ten-Week Panel Experiment

Dona-Gene Mitchell
Electoral Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
The extent to which the electorate uses issue information to update their candidate evaluations over the course of political campaigns has often raised questions about citizen competence. Using a ten-week panel experiment designed to capture the low-information context of most congressional races this study contributes to our understanding of when and by what processes issue information produces enduring effects. Findings reveal that when voters need to assess an ideologically moderate candidate, they rely less on partisan cues but instead of storing issue information in long-term memory - either via a memory-based or on-line process - considerations in short-term memory remained one of the most powerful predictors of candidate evaluation, particularly when new issue information deviated from partisan norms.

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Who Advocates? Determinants of Political Advocacy in Presidential Election Years

Sean Richey & Benjamin Taylor
Political Communication, Fall 2012, Pages 414-427

Abstract:
Political discussion research often focuses on general discussion without analyzing interesting subsets of interpersonal communication, such as political advocacy. Political advocacy is crucial to study because it is where citizens make clear statements of their beliefs when trying to influence others, which democratic theorists cite as valuable in spreading information in discussion networks. In this project, we test theoretically relevant determinants of political advocacy, focusing on campaign spending. Using multilevel logistic regression models of American National Election Study survey data from presidential elections between 1976 and 2008, we find that campaign spending correlates with an increase in the likelihood of advocating. We also find that the likelihood of being an advocate correlates with greater political discussion, television usage, interest in politics, partisanship, efficacy, and socioeconomic status. Additionally, we break these results down by party spending and party identification, and find differentiated results by party. Generally, these results show how the electoral environment shapes interpersonal communication.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM