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Monday, January 2, 2017

How the sausage is made

 

Does Public Attention Reduce the Influence of Interest Groups? Policy Positions on SOPA/PIPA before and after the Internet Blackout

Ulrich Matter & Alois Stutzer

Harvard Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
We investigate the role that public attention plays in determining the effect that campaign contributions funded by interests groups have on legislators’ policy positions. In so doing, we exploit the Internet service blackout of January 2012 as a quasi-experiment in which a shock increases the salience of the SOPA/PIPA bills aimed at securing stronger protection of property rights on the Internet. Using a newly compiled dataset of U.S. congressmen’s public statements, which capture their positions throughout the debate, we find an initially strong statistical relationship between campaign contributions funded by the affected industries and legislators’ positions. However, this relationship evaporates once the two bills become primary policy issues. The evidence presented is in line with the theoretical notion that legislators choose positions on secondary policy issues in order to cater to organized interests, whereas positions on primary policy issues are driven by electoral support.

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A Very Particular Set of Skills: Former Legislator Traits and Revolving Door Lobbying in Congress

Todd Makse

American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
In recent decades, observers of Congress have devoted increasing attention to the phenomenon of the revolving door, whereby members of Congress and staffers go on to careers in lobbying. This practice raises a number of normative concerns that are perhaps most heightened when it comes to the lobbying activities of members of Congress themselves. In this article, I examine the factors determining which former members go through the revolving door, and find that members with central network positions and highly effective legislators are more likely to become lobbyists. I then examine the extent to which members-turned-lobbyists have an impact on bills in Congress. I find evidence that lobbying by former members increases a bill’s probability of progressing and some evidence that highly effective legislators also go on to become more effective lobbyists. Taken together, these findings support conventional wisdom that former members become some of the most influential lobbyists.

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All the President's Senators: Presidential Copartisans and the Allocation of Federal Grants

Dino Christenson, Douglas Kriner & Andrew Reeves

Legislative Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous scholarship argues that House members' partisan relationship to the president is among the most important determinants of the share of federal dollars they bring home to their constituents. Do presidential politics also shape distributive outcomes in the Senate? Analyzing the allocation of more than $8.5 trillion of federal grants across the states from 1984 to 2008, we show that presidential copartisan senators are more successful than opposition party members in securing federal dollars for their home states. Moreover, presidents appear to target grants ex post to states that gain presidential copartisans in recent elections.

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The Effects of Gender on Winnowing in the U.S. House of Representatives

Victoria Rickard

Politics & Gender, December 2016, Pages 807-834

Abstract:
Notwithstanding the importance of winnowing, scholars have devoted little attention to deciphering and systematically explaining the effects that gender may have on determining which small proportion of bills ultimately receive committee attention from the thousands that are introduced every legislative session. Building on past research evincing gendered differences in legislative behavior and effectiveness, this study analyzes the 111th and 112th Congresses in order to ascertain the extent to which gender affects winnowing in the U.S. House of Representatives. The findings suggest that female lawmakers are working hard to achieve legislative success by sponsoring a greater number of bills than their male colleagues, but that their efforts are not being similarly rewarded. Female sponsored bills fail to progress past the winnowing stage at rates comparable to male sponsored bills. Thus, policymaking may be skewed toward the preferences of male lawmakers despite the numeric and positional gains of women in the U.S. Congress.

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Labor Union Strength and the Equality of Political Representation

Patrick Flavin

British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Amid growing evidence of ‘unequal democracy’ in the United States, labor unions can play a potentially important role by ensuring that low-income citizens’ opinions receive more equal consideration when elected officials make policy decisions. To investigate this possibility, this article evaluates the relationship between labor union strength and representational equality across states and finds evidence that states with higher levels of union membership weigh citizens’ opinions more equally in the policy-making process. In contrast, there is no relationship between the volume of labor union contributions to political campaigns in a state and the equality of its political representation. These findings suggest that labor unions promote greater political equality primarily by mobilizing their working-class members to political action and, more broadly, underscore the important role that organized labor continues to play in shaping the distribution of political power across American society.

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Losers Go to Jail: Congressional Elections and Union Officer Prosecutions

Mitch Downey

University of California Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
Democratic societies rely on fair judicial systems and competitive political systems. If politicians can control criminal investigations of influential groups and use them to undermine political opponents and protect supporters, it subverts these systems. I test whether prosecutions of politically active labor unions respond to Congressional election outcomes. I use novel data on federal indictments, campaign contributions to measure support, and a regression discontinuity to recover causal effects. I find that union officers are 67% more likely to be indicted when the candidate their union supported barely loses. These indictments weaken unions’ ability to influence politics, making reelection more difficult for union-supported Representatives and easier for the union-opposed. As such, the discontinuity might reflect reduced indictments to protect election winners’ union supporters or increased indictments to target winners’ union opponents. A series of analyses suggest it includes both. The results show that US politicians manipulate the justice system to maintain power.

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It's a Sweetheart of a Deal: Political Connections and Federal Contracting

Stephen Ferris & Reza Houston

Indiana State University Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
We examine whether political connections measured by political contributions influences the choice of terms included in government contracts awarded to firms. We construct an index of four “sweetheart” contract terms that are highly favorable to the firm, but not obviously advantageous to the government. We find that firms making larger political contributions more frequently have these terms included in their contracts. We then examine how changes in a firm’s political contributions influence the terms of subsequent contracts. We find that firms which increase their contributions are more likely to have these terms as part of their contract. We conclude that there is a political effect on the choice of terms included in federal contracts awarded to firms.

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Networks, Big Data, and Intermedia Agenda Setting: An Analysis of Traditional, Partisan, and Emerging Online U.S. News

Chris Vargo & Lei Guo

Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
This large-scale intermedia agenda–setting analysis examines U.S. online media sources for 2015. The network agenda–setting model showed that media agendas were highly homogeneous and reciprocal. Online partisan media played a leading role in the entire media agenda. Two elite newspapers — The New York Times and The Washington Post — were found to no longer be in control of the news agenda and were more likely to follow online partisan media. This article provides evidence for a nuanced view of the network agenda–setting model; intermedia agenda–setting effects varied by media type, issue type, and time periods.

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Congressional Investigations and the Electoral Connection

Kenneth Lowande & Justin Peck

Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
We demonstrate that a direct “electoral connection” with voters motivates members of Congress to more vigorously investigate the executive branch during divided government. Our strategy for estimating the effect of the electoral connection is to leverage the enactment of 17th Amendment — which influenced the electoral mechanism for senators but not for members of the House of Representatives. This plausibly exogenous institutional variation allows us to isolate the effect of the electoral connection from other possible historical influences — such as the growth of the administrative state or the rise of political progressivism. We find that the 17th Amendment dramatically increased the Senate’s propensity to investigate during divided party control. Importantly, we also find little evidence of such an increase in the House. Our findings support the contemporary claim that congressional investigations are political tool motivated by the desire to discredit the opposition and reap individual electoral gains.

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Dynamics of Senate Retirements

Theodore Masthay & Marvin Overby

Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although there is a large literature on the career decisions of House members, there is a dearth of critical scholarship examining retirement decisions in the Senate. This study aims to address this under-explored topic and identify the key factors in Senate retirement decisions. With a less demanding election schedule, greater power afforded to individual senators, more prestige attached to the office, and fewer attractive options for progressive ambition, we find that Senate retirement decisions differ substantially from patterns observed in the House. Among other things, the partisan retirement differential that is so obvious and persistent in the House (with Republican MCs retiring at higher rates than Democrats) is markedly absent in the Senate. We explore this and other inter-chamber differences, discussing both their empirical and normative ramifications, and noting their importance for our understanding not only of the two chambers but also of the two parties.

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Elections, Ideology, and Turnover in the U.S. Federal Government

Alexander Bolton, John de Figueiredo & David Lewis

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
A defining feature of public sector employment is the regular change in elected leadership. Yet, we know little about how elections influence public sector careers. We describe how elections alter policy outputs and disrupt the influence of civil servants over agency decisions. These changes shape the career choices of employees motivated by policy, influence, and wages. Using new Office of Personnel Management data on the careers of millions of federal employees between 1988 and 2011, we evaluate how elections influence employee turnover decisions. We find that presidential elections increase departure rates of career senior employees, particularly in agencies with divergent views relative to the new president and at the start of presidential terms. We also find suggestive evidence that vacancies in high-level positions after elections may induce lower-level executives to stay longer in hopes of advancing. We conclude with implications of our findings for public policy, presidential politics, and public management.

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The political economy of wage and price controls: Evidence from the Nixon tapes

Burton Abrams & James Butkiewicz

Public Choice, January 2017, Pages 63–78

Abstract:
In late July, 1971, Nixon reiterated his adamant opposition to wage and price controls calling them a scheme to socialize America. Yet, less than a month later, in a stunning reversal, he imposed the first and only peacetime wage and price controls in U.S. history. The Nixon tapes, personal tape recordings made during the presidency of Richard Nixon, provide a unique body of evidence to investigate the motivations for Nixon’s stunning reversal. We uncover and report in this paper evidence that Nixon manipulated his New Economic Policy to help secure his reelection victory in 1972. He became convinced that wage and price controls were necessary to grab the headlines away from the defeatist abandonment of the Bretton Woods Agreement and the closing of the U.S. gold window. Nixon understood the impact of his wage and price controls, but chose to trade off longer-term economic costs to the economy for his own short-term political gain.

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The Role of Elite Accounts in Mitigating the Negative Effects of Repositioning

Joshua Robison

Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Repositioning by political elites plays a key role in a variety of political phenomena, including legislative policymaking and campaigning. While previous studies suggest that repositioning will lead to negative evaluations, these studies have not explored the role of elite communications in structuring mass responses. We argue that this omission is problematic because elite explanations for their actions may limit the costs associated with ‘flip-flopping’ by persuading some citizens to update their attitudes so that they agree with the elite’s new stance and also by molding beliefs about the motives of the elite when repositioning. We present evidence supportive of this argument obtained from two large experiments conducted on samples of American adults. Ultimately, we show that elites offering a satisfactory justification for their change can avoid most, if not all, of the evaluative costs that would otherwise occur. This study thus has important implications not just for this particular element of elite behavior, but also related questions concerning governmental accountability and representation.

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Captured Development: Industry Influence and State Economic Development Subsidies in the Great Recession Era

Joshua Jansa & Virginia Gray

Economic Development Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Scholars focus on interstate competition and intrastate economic conditions as the primary determinants of state economic development policies, including direct subsidies. New data from the Good Jobs First Subsidy Tracker illustrates large differences in subsidy spending across the states and that established firms are the disproportionate beneficiaries. In light of this new evidence, we argue that the political presence of the business sector within the state is an important determinant of state subsidy spending. A large political presence helps forward industry interests before government and has the potential to capture state governments. We find support for the cultural capture model by demonstrating that a greater number of lobbyists and campaign contributions from businesses leads to more subsidy spending, all else equal. We conclude that subsidies, and which companies receive them, are a product of both politics and economics.

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A Room for One’s Own? The Partisan Allocation of Affordable Housing

Claudine Gay

Urban Affairs Review, January 2017, Pages 40-70

Abstract:
Millions of Americans live in communities without an adequate supply of affordable housing. The governmental response to the crisis has focused on subsidies to private developers who build below-market housing, with the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) at the center of this effort. Although federally funded, the LIHTC program grants states wide latitude in distributing billions of dollars of tax credits annually. Do state officials exploit this discretion to channel housing subsidies to geographic constituencies for political ends? Drawing on 20 years of LIHTC administrative data, I test whether electoral support for the state’s governing party predicts the level of tax credit investment directed to an area. The analysis reveals a modest relationship between partisan loyalty and housing investment, conditional on the partisan and institutional contexts. Democratic governors steer tax credits to areas of core support, but only where the governor exercises a high level of control over the state’s LIHTC-allocating agency.

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The Birth of Pork: Local Appropriations in America's First Century

Sanford Gordon & Hannah Katherine Simpson

NYU Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
After describing a newly assembled dataset consisting of all local appropriations made by the U.S. Congress between 1789 and 1882, we test a number of competing accounts of the politics surrounding them before offering a more nuanced, historically contingent view of the emergence of the pork barrel. First, we demonstrate that the pattern of appropriations is inconsistent with credit-claiming motivations, even accounting for the frequent rotation in office common during the period. Second, it was rare that over fifty percent of districts directly benefited from these appropriations until the 1870s, even aggregating by congressional session. Moreover, support for these appropriations was not reducible to geographic proximity, but did, until the end of Reconstruction, map cleanly onto the partisan/ideological structure of Congress. Finally, we show how the growth of recurrent expenditures and the emergence of a solid Democratic South eventually produced the universalistic coalitions commonly associated with pork-barrel spending.

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Veto Override Requirements and Executive Success

Robert McGrath, Jon Rogowski & Josh Ryan

Political Science Research and Methods, forthcoming

Abstract:
Presidential systems around the world vary in the proportion of legislators required to override an executive veto. We argue that the nature of the override provision affects executive influence in policymaking; as the proportion needed to override a veto increases, so should executive influence. We leverage varying override requirements across the US states to conduct a comparative study of executive influence over budgetary outcomes. Using governors’ budget requests and enacted appropriations for fiscal years 1987–2011, we provide evidence that state legislatures better accommodate budgetary requests in states with higher override requirements. Further, governors whose preferences are extreme relative to the legislature are more likely to have their budgetary goals met in states with a higher veto threshold.

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Electoral Rules and Legislative Particularism: Evidence from U.S. State Legislatures

Tanya Bagashka & Jennifer Hayes Clark

American Political Science Review, August 2016, Pages 441-456

Abstract:
We argue that state legislative politics is qualitatively different from national congressional politics in the extent to which it focuses on localized and geographically specific legislation salient to subconstituencies within a legislative district. Whereas congressional politics focuses on casework benefits for individual constituents, state legislative politics is more oriented to the delivery of localized benefits for groups of citizens in specific areas within a district, fostering a geographically specific group connection. A primary way to build such targeted geographical support is for members to introduce particularistic legislation designed to aid their specific targeted geographical area within the district. We argue that this is primarily a function of electoral rules. Using original sponsorship data from U.S. state houses, we demonstrate that greater district magnitude and more inclusive selection procedures such as open primaries are associated with more particularism. Our findings provide strong support for a voter-group alignment model of electoral politics distinct from the personal vote/electoral connection model that characterizes U.S. congressional politics and is more akin to patterns of geographically specific group-oriented electoral politics found in Europe and throughout the world.

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The Role of Constituency, Party, and Industry in Pennsylvania’s Act 13

Bradford Bishop & Mark Dudley

State Politics & Policy Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
While a large body of research exists regarding the role of industry money on roll-call voting in the U.S. Congress, there is surprisingly little scholarship pertaining to industry influence on state politics. This study fills this void in an analysis of campaign donations and voting during passage of Act 13 in Pennsylvania during 2011 and 2012. After collecting information about natural gas production in state legislative districts, we estimate a series of multivariate models aimed at uncovering whether campaign donations contributed to a more favorable policy outcome for industry. Our findings indicate that campaign donations played a small but systematic role in consideration of the controversial legislation, which represented one of the first and most important state-level regulatory reforms for the hydraulic fracturing industry.

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Opportunities in Parliament and Political Careers: A Natural Experiment in the United Kingdom

Yusaku Horiuchi & Peter John

University College London Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
Why do some politicians acquire more posts and achieve faster career progression, while others do not? We argue that it is the opportunity for members of parliament (MPs) to develop and demonstrate their effectiveness as lawmakers and politicians that helps them develop political careers. By leveraging a natural experiment in the United Kingdom where randomly selected twenty MPs are given an opportunity to bring in legislation in each session, we show that winning the ballot decreases the probability of getting a new post among less experienced MPs, while it increases the probability among the more experienced. This finding shows that whether or not MPs can seize the randomly assigned new career-boosting opportunity hinges on the non-randomly generated pre-existing opportunity gap.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM