Findings

Bump in the Polls

Kevin Lewis

May 05, 2011

Being The New York Times: The Political Behaviour of a Newspaper

Riccardo Puglisi
B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, April 2011

Abstract:
I analyse a dataset of news from The New York Times, from 1946 to 1997. Controlling for the activity of the incumbent president and the U.S. Congress across issues, I find that during a presidential campaign, The New York Times gives more emphasis to topics on which the Democratic party is perceived as more competent (civil rights, health care, labor and social welfare) when the incumbent president is a Republican. This is consistent with the hypothesis that The New York Times has a Democratic partisanship, with some "anti-incumbent" aspects, in that - during a presidential campaign - it gives more emphasis to issues over which the (Republican) incumbent is weak. To the extent that the interest of readers across issues is not systematically related with the political affiliation of the incumbent president and the election cycle, the observed changes in news coverage are consistent with The New York Times departing from demand-driven news coverage. In fact, I show that these findings are robust to controlling for Gallup data on the most important problem facing the country, which I use as a proxy for issue tastes of Times' readers.

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Partisan bias in economic news: Evidence on the agenda-setting behavior of U.S. newspapers

Valentino Larcinese, Riccardo Puglisi & James Snyder
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study the agenda-setting political behavior of a large sample of U.S. newspapers during the 1996-2005 period. Our purpose is to examine the intensity of coverage of economic issues as a function of the underlying economic conditions and the political affiliation of the incumbent president, focusing on unemployment, inflation, the federal budget and the trade deficit. We investigate whether there is any significant correlation between the endorsement policy of newspapers, and the differential coverage of bad/good economic news as a function of the president's political affiliation. We find evidence that newspapers with pro-Democratic endorsement pattern systematically give more coverage to high unemployment when the incumbent president is a Republican than when the president is Democratic, compared to newspapers with pro-Republican endorsement pattern. This result is robust to controlling for the partisanship of readers. We find similar but less robust results for the trade deficit. We also find some evidence that newspapers cater to the partisan tastes of readers in the coverage of the budget deficit. We find no evidence of a partisan bias - or at least of a bias that is correlated with the endorsement or reader partisanship - for stories on inflation.

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Migration and Sorting in the American Electorate: Evidence From the 2006 Cooperative Congressional Election Study

Ian McDonald
American Politics Research, May 2011, Pages 512-533

Abstract:
Migration is a significant factor in the composition of U.S. electoral constituencies, including U.S. House districts. Does migration contribute to geographic homogeneity, and does the result contribute to political polarization in a significant way? This article considers this question using the 2006 Cooperative Congressional Election Survey. To determine individual-level migration patterns, residence information from individual survey respondents is matched to the U.S. Postal Service's change of address database. This technique provides precise information about respondents' migration history that follows the preferences expressed in each individual's survey response. I find support for the claim that migrants are more likely to move into a congressional district that matches their ideological preferences even after controlling for the partisanship in the district of origin. This result emerges for both major parties in two sets of model specifications: multinomial logit models restricted to migrants and a selection model that includes all respondents.

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Economic voting and welfare programmes: Evidence from the American states

Matthew Singer
European Journal of Political Research, June 2011, Pages 479-503

Abstract:
While scholars have hypothesised that a strong welfare state should reduce voters' incentives to base their votes on economic outcomes, evidence for this proposition remains mixed. This article tests whether differences in welfare protections across American states affect the relationship between economic performance and support for the president's party in 430 state legislative elections from 1970 to 1989. Analysing the results of over 42,000 contests in which an incumbent was running for re-election, it finds that while unemployment insurance programmes do not affect the importance of economic performance, the electoral fortunes of presidential co-partisans are less strongly tied to the national economy in states with generous anti-poverty programmes. Thus by reducing vulnerability to poverty, economic safety-nets lower the salience of the economy and provide electoral cover for politicians during economic slowdowns.

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Partisan Ambivalence, Split-Ticket Voting, and Divided Government

Kenneth Mulligan
Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite recent periods of unified party control of government in Washington, DC, divided government has been the norm in recent decades. Scholars agree that when both presidential and congressional candidates are on the ballot the driving force behind divided government at the national level is split-ticket voting. In this study, I present a new psychological model of split-ticket voting. I posit that ticket splitting is motivated by ambivalence over the two major political parties. I test this partisan ambivalence explanation on split-ticket votes between president and Congress nationally between 1988 and 2004 and voting for state executive offices in Ohio in 1998. I find that partisan ambivalence predicts ticket splitting at both the national and state levels and does so about as well as some other explanations. The results of this study suggest that divided government occurs, in part, because voters are divided within themselves.

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Not in His Image: The Moderating Effect of Gender on Religious Appeals

Brian Calfano & Paul Djupe
Politics and Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Religious appeals have been part and parcel of campaign strategy for decades. Most often, however, these appeals to have come from men, but little is known about how women would fare using religious appeals on the campaign trail. To remedy this, we used an experimental design to examine voter reaction to religious appeals from a female and a male candidate competing for an open United States Senate seat. We find that women's use of religious appeals is governed by the dynamics of tokenism - reinforcing traditional gender stereotypes and serving to reduce voter support of the female candidate. This suggests that women must be careful in using a key campaign tool traditionally employed by men, and that this may affect the extent to which female candidates can effectively shape voter perceptions on the campaign trail.

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The "Palin Effect" in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election

Jonathan Knuckey
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using data from the American National Election Studies, this article addresses whether the Sarah Palin affected vote choice in 2008. Findings indicate not only that evaluations of Palin were a strong predictor of vote choice - even when controlling for confounding variables - but also that Palin's effect on vote choice was the largest of any vice presidential candidate in elections examined dating back to 1980. Theoretically, the article offers support for the proposition that a running mate is an important short-term force affecting voting behavior. Substantively, the article suggests that Palin may have contributed to a loss of support among "swing voters."

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In to Win? Intergroup Processes and the Effectiveness of Male versus Female Endorsements for Hillary Clinton

Blair Vandegrift & Alexander Czopp
Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, Spring 2011, Pages 85-95

Abstract:
This article examines the influence of male versus female endorsements of Hillary Clinton for president among male and female college students. During the 2008 Democratic primary, male and female participants evaluated either a male or female target who endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. Participants evaluated the speaker's competence, how annoying the speaker was, how surprised they were, and their level of agreement with the speaker. Compared to the female target, women rated the male target as more competent and less annoying, and indicated greater agreement with his arguments. In contrast, men rated the male target as less competent and more annoying compared to the female target. Results are discussed in the context of intergroup processes related to persuasion, social identity theory, and gender-role prescriptions.

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Turning Out to Vote: The Costs of Finding and Getting to the Polling Place

Henry Brady & John McNulty
American Political Science Review, February 2011, Pages 115-134

Abstract:
Could changing the locations of polling places affect the outcome of an election by increasing the costs of voting for some and decreasing them for others? The consolidation of voting precincts in Los Angeles County during California's 2003 gubernatorial recall election provides a natural experiment for studying how changing polling places influences voter turnout. Overall turnout decreased by a substantial 1.85 percentage points: A drop in polling place turnout of 3.03 percentage points was partially offset by an increase in absentee voting of 1.18 percentage points. Both transportation and search costs caused these changes. Although there is no evidence that the Los Angeles Registrar of Voters changed more polling locations for those registered with one party than for those registered with another, the changing of polling places still had a small partisan effect because those registered as Democrats were more sensitive to changes in costs than those registered as Republicans. The effects were small enough to allay worries about significant electoral consequences in this instance (e.g., the partisan effect might be decisive in only about one in two hundred contested House elections), but large enough to make it possible for someone to affect outcomes by more extensive manipulation of polling place locations.

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Getting Out the Vote: Minority Mobilization in a Presidential Election

Daniel Stevens & Benjamin Bishin
Political Behavior, March 2011, Pages 113-138

Abstract:
Despite attempts to mobilize communities of color, gaps in turnout among racial and ethnic minorities persist (e.g., Abrajano et al., J Polit 70:368-382, 2008; Pantoja et al., Polit Res Q 54:729-750, 2001; Kaufmann, Polit Res Q 56:199-210, 2003; Ramirez, Ann Am Acad Pol Soc Sci 601:66-84, 2005, Am Polit Res 35:155-175, 2007). Scholars are only beginning to understand how parties or independent groups seek to mobilize these communities. In this paper, we develop and test the Differential Contact Thesis, which holds that turnout differences between whites and minority groups are influenced both by lower rates of contact by the parties and the use of less effective methods of contact. To test this, we examine data from the 2004 National Annenberg Election Study (NAES), 2004 American National Election Study (ANES), and the 2004 Miami Exit Poll. Our results support the Differential Contact Thesis: even controlling for the initial likelihood to be contacted by the parties, racial and ethnic minorities were less likely to be contacted using the most effective techniques. To some extent, non-partisan contact seems to compensate for the inattention of the major parties toward minority voters, but this contact is less likely to mobilize voters than contact from the parties.

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When Citizens Fight Back: Justice Sensitivity and Resistance to Political Reform

Eva Traut-Mattausch et al.
Social Justice Research, March 2011, Pages 25-42

Abstract:
A considerable number of individuals show resistance to reform, whereas others, although similarly affected, do not react in a resistant way at all. Based on research showing that people differ concerning how sensitive they are toward being a victim of injustice (victim justice sensitivity), we argued that people high in victim justice sensitivity perceive a reform more as an illegitimate limitation to their freedom resulting in more reactance. Consequently, people high in victim justice sensitivity should show more resistance to reform. We conducted three studies to test these assumptions. Our studies revealed that physicians (healthcare reform, Study 1) and students (introduction of tuition fees, Studies 2 and 3) with higher victim justice sensitivity experienced more reactance and thus showed more resistance to reform. The implications of these results for the implementation of political reforms are discussed.

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Turning Out the Base or Appealing to the Periphery? An Analysis of County-Level Candidate Appearances in the 2008 Presidential Campaign

Lanhee Chen & Andrew Reeves
American Politics Research, May 2011, Pages 534-556

Abstract:
We examine county-level campaign appearances by the Republican and Democratic tickets during the 2008 general election. Our analysis reveals that the McCain-Palin ticket campaigned in a way that was quite different from the Obama-Biden ticket. McCain-Palin pursued a "base" strategy that was focused on counties where Bush-Cheney performed well in 2004. They also stayed away from counties that showed vote swings from 2000 to 2004 or population growth. On the other hand, the performance of the Kerry-Edwards ticket in 2004 was a very weak predictor of where Obama-Biden campaigned in 2008. They pursued a "peripheral" strategy that targeted counties that had experienced significant population growth. Their efforts to target peripheral, rather than base constituencies, have significant implications for our understanding of presidential campaign strategy.

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The "message" in the (political) battle

Michael Silverstein
Language & Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using the mediation of mediatization, political campaigns of American electoral candidates create and attempt to sustain a positive "message" for their candidate and a negative one for their opponent(s). Essentially a biographically projectible 'brand', and thus, like brand, potentially engendering suspicion, "message" can seem sometimes to recede in importance, and campaigns work at meta-"message"-ing to deny their own, and to heighten their opponents', engagement in "message" activity. In the 2008 election cycle the two final presidential candidates both began by seeming to eschew "message," but it re-emerged in seemingly decisive ways by the conclusion of the electoral cycle.

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Promoting Policy in a Mediated Democracy: Congress and the News

Christine DeGregorio
The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics, 2011

Abstract:
Whose interests do major news dailies serve when they report on policy debates in Congress? This study compares what members of the U.S. House of Representatives say about major policy with what is later reported in two news dailies: one liberal (Washington Post) and one conservative (Washington Times). The data include one-minute floor speeches by House members (168) and published stories - news and editorials - in the print media (117). Three high-profile policy initiatives of the 107th Congress (2001-2002) anchor the investigation: No Child Left Behind Act (HR 1), Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (HR 1836), and Airport Security Act (S. 1447). The evidence shows a discrepancy in the perspectives between reporters and officeholders. Where news coverage stresses talk of the president and the process, lawmakers stress the problem and the stakes for the American people. When the debate breaks along party lines, news coverage shows a weak ideological bias that favors Democrats.

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Shirking the Initiative: The Effects of Statewide Ballot Measures on Congressional Roll Call Behavior

Joshua Huder, Jordan Michael Ragusa & Daniel Smith
American Politics Research, May 2011, Pages 582-610

Abstract:
Do ballot measures affect congressional voting behavior? Examining the issues of gay marriage, campaign finance, and minimum wage, we test if the results of statewide ballot initiatives inform congressional roll call votes on legislation occupying the same issue space. Theoretically, we expect signals from ballot measures-which provide precise information about the preferences of a member's voting constituency-reduce policy "shirking" by members. Our findings across the three issues indicate that ballot initiative outcomes alter the floor votes of members of the House, reducing legislative shirking, but we find that the educative effect of ballot measures is attenuated in the Senate due to institutional factors. We attribute the positive effect in House to the precise signal ballot measures provide members about the preferences of the median voter in their district.

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Electoral Competition and the Voter

Shaun Bowler & Todd Donovan
Public Opinion Quarterly, Spring 2011, Pages 151-164

Abstract:
This article examines how electoral competition, in the form of district-level campaign expenditures, affects voters' opinions about elections. We direct our attention at how voters perceive competition, and at how electoral competition affects how people perceive elections. Although people generally overestimate the competitiveness of U.S. House races, we demonstrate that perceptions of competition are connected to actual levels of campaign activity. We also find that electoral competition may have contradictory democratic effects. District-level spending is associated with greater attention to news about the local campaign, but also with greater dissatisfaction with election choices.

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The Opinion Factor: The Effects of Opinionated News on Information Processing and Attitude Change

Lauren Feldman
Political Communication, Spring 2011, Pages 163-181

Abstract:
The recent growth in opinionated cable news, in which the anchor expresses a clear political point of view, has aroused concerns about its potential polarizing effects on public opinion. Key to uncovering opinionated news'
impact on public opinion is an understanding of how partisan audiences process opinionated news: Do the overt partisan cues in opinionated news stimulate biased processing, thereby enhancing attitude polarization among opposing partisans relative to non-opinionated news? Or are opinionated news messages processed uniformly by partisans, contributing to direct persuasion? Two online experiments tested the effects of news opinionation - and interactions with individual political partisanship - on information processing and attitude change. Results from both studies most clearly support a model of direct persuasion. Message processing and attitude change follow the direction of the news' opinionation, with little variation by partisanship, offering no evidence that opinionated news intensifies attitude differences among partisans relative to non-opinionated news. Implications for theories of political information processing and democratic politics are discussed.

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Text Messages as Mobilization Tools: The Conditional Effect of Habitual Voting and Election Salience

Neil Malhotra et al.
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Dale and Strauss's (DS) noticeable reminder theory (NRT) of voter mobilization posits that mobilization efforts that are highly noticeable and salient to potential voters, even if impersonal, can be successful. In an innovative experimental design, DS show that text messages substantially boost turnout, challenging previous claims that social connectedness is the key to increasing participation. We replicate DS's research design and extend it in two key ways. First, whereas the treatment in DS's experiment was a "warm" text message combined with contact, we test NRT more cleanly by examining the effect of "cold" text messages that are completely devoid of auxiliary interaction. Second, we test an implication of NRT that habitual voters should exhibit the largest treatment effects in lower salience elections whereas casual voters should exhibit the largest treatment effects in higher salience elections. Via these two extensions, we find support for NRT.

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U.S. State Election Reform and Turnout in Presidential Elections

Roger Larocca & John Klemanski
State Politics & Policy Quarterly, March 2011, Pages 76-101

Abstract:
We explore the effects of state-level election reforms on voter turnout in the 2000, 2004, and 2008 presidential elections. Using a cost-benefit model of political participation, we develop a framework for analyzing the burdens imposed by the following: universal mail voting, permanent no-excuse absentee voting, nonpermanent no-excuse absentee voting, early in-person voting, Election Day registration, and voter identification requirements. We analyze turnout data from the 2000, 2004, and 2008 Current Population Surveys and show that implementation by states of both forms of no-excuse absentee voting and Election Day registration has a positive and significant affect on turnout in each election. We find positive but less consistent effects on turnout for universal mail voting and voter identification requirements. Our results also show that early in-person voting has a negative and statistically significant correlation with turnout in all three elections.

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The Mobilized Voter: Portrayals of Electoral Participation in Print News Coverage of Campaign 2008

Sharon Jarvis & Soo-Hye Han
American Behavioral Scientist, April 2011, Pages 419-436

Abstract:
This study examines how electoral participation was portrayed in print news coverage of the 2008 American presidential election. Specifically, 2,241 instances of three terms- vote, voter, and voting-were subjected to quantitative and qualitative coding techniques and compared to a larger project that analyzed more than 26,000 instances of these terms in coverage of 15 presidential elections, 1948 to 2004. The findings show that print coverage of electoral participation in 2008 featured the lowest level of game framing, the second-highest level of mobilization efforts, the most positive tone, and the most mentions of electoral challenges of the past 60 years. The article interprets these trends in light of journalistic routines and the potential socialization effects of such coverage.

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Voter Information, Voter Participation, and the North Carolina Judicial Election Reforms: The Views of the Voters

Traciel Reid & Robert Moog
Politics & Policy, April 2011, Pages 223-250

Abstract:
Drawing upon our voter survey, recent election results, voter roll-off, and campaign finances, this study's findings join an expanding body of research that questions the shift away from partisan to nonpartisan judicial elections. Specifically, this article examines voter information about and voter participation in North Carolina's appellate races in light of its move to nonpartisan elections combined with mandated distribution of voter guides. Some findings were expected: the voter guides were well received, party affiliation remained important in these races, and voter roll-off increased significantly. Competition did not appear to affect roll-off in the races analyzed in this article. The most surprising finding was that a strong majority of our survey respondents wanted candidates' party affiliation back on the ballot, even though surveys have cited strong public support for "nonpartisan" judicial elections.

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Making Voting Easier: Convenience Voting in the 2008 Presidential Election

Michael Alvarez, Ines Levin & Andrew Sinclair
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
The authors analyze the choice of voting mode in the 2008 presidential election using a large-sample survey with national coverage that allows a new perspective of convenience voting. Most importantly, they make clear distinctions among the major forms of convenience voting and demonstrate that not all "convenience voters" share the same attributes. In addition, the authors find little support for the hypothesis that convenience voting methods have partisan implications, despite the differences among mail, early, and election-day voters. Results like these have important implications for future moves toward convenience voting and the design of new outreach campaigns.

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The Explosive Rise of a Political Party: The Logic of 'Sudden Convergence'

Stoyan Sgourev
European Sociological Review, December 2010, Pages 639-654

Abstract:
What is it that makes events difficult to predict? Starting with the assumption that unpredictability is commensurate with complexity, the article examines a highly complex process of discontinuous change, defined as 'sudden convergence'-spontaneous, momentary correlation between components or preferences that were heretofore unrelated. This process is illustrated through the rise of 'Ataka' - a nationalist-populist party in Bulgaria, which attained 9 per cent of the parliamentary vote shortly after its creation. Making use of multiple data sources, the analysis finds a highly heterogeneous support base of 'Ataka', with diverse protest rationales abruptly realigned in the same political corner in seemingly haphazard manner and with little indication for strategic oversight. A complex amalgam of interests is forged under substantial ambiguity. The analysis contributes to understanding a general problem - how individual preferences that are not supposed to be correlated become suddenly tied together, giving rise to events that severely strain our predictive capabilities, such as mass protest or economic crises.


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