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Friday, December 16, 2011

Political History

 

The Gingrich Senators and Party Polarization in the U.S. Senate

Sean Theriault & David Rohde
Journal of Politics, October 2011, Pages 1011-1024

Abstract:
The political parties in the Senate are almost as polarized at they are in the House. Nevertheless, the explanations for party polarization work better in the House than they do in the Senate. In this article, we argue that the polarization in the House has directly contributed to polarization in the Senate. We find that almost the entire growth in Senate party polarization since the early 1970s can be accounted for by Republican senators who previously served in the House after 1978 - a group we call the "Gingrich Senators." While our analysis indicates that part of this effect has its roots in the senators' constituencies, the experience of these representatives serving in the House continues to exert a real and substantial effect on their voting behavior in the Senate.

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Bias and the Bar: Evaluating the ABA Ratings of Federal Judicial Nominees

Susan Navarro Smelcer, Amy Steigerwalt & Richard Vining
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
The vetting of potential federal judges by the Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary of the American Bar Association (ABA) is politically controversial. Conservatives allege the Standing Committee is biased against Republican nominees. The ABA and its defenders argue the ABA rates nominees objectively based on their qualifications. The authors investigate whether accusations of liberal bias have merit. They analyze all individuals nominated to the U.S. Courts of Appeals from 1977 to 2008. Using genetic matching methods and ordered logit models, the authors find evidence of bias against Republican nominees in the ABA's ratings. They conclude by discussing the implications of these results.

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The Impact of Divided Government on the Supreme Court Appointment Process: An Assessment of Judicial Extremism, 1946-2009

Hemant Sharma & John Scheb
Politics & Policy, December 2011, Pages 1077-1105

Abstract:
Using the data from the Supreme Court Database, we test the hypothesis that Supreme Court justices appointed under conditions of divided party government behave more moderately in decision making than justices appointed under unified government. We create a dependent variable that provides term-by-term measures of judicial extremism for 31 justices from 1946 through 2009. For the independent variables, we expand the conception of divided government not only by using a dichotomous measure of split party control but also by considering the president's approval rating and ideological distance to the filibuster pivot. We use our variables to create time series regression models for civil rights/liberties cases and economic cases. In both models, we find strong support for our hypothesis and observe the statistical significance of several control variables. Ultimately, our regression models may prove useful for explaining and predicting the behavior of Supreme Court justices relative to a variety of confirmation conditions.

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Political Disaster: Unilateral Powers, Electoral Incentives, and Presidential Disaster Declarations

Andrew Reeves
Journal of Politics, October 2011, Pages 1142-1151

Abstract:
I argue that presidents use unilateral powers for particularistic aims to gain electoral support. Specifically, I examine presidential disaster declarations, which allow presidents to unilaterally authorize potentially billions of dollars to specific constituencies. In an analysis extending from 1981 to 2004, I find that a state's electoral competitiveness influences whether they receive a disaster declaration from the president. A highly competitive state can expect to receive twice as many presidential disaster declarations as an uncompetitive state. This relationship has existed since the passage of the 1988 Stafford Act, which expanded the disaster declaration powers of the president. Additionally, I find that these decisions have the intended electoral benefits - voters react and reward presidents for presidential disaster declarations. A president can expect over a one point increase in a statewide contest in return for a single presidential disaster declaration.

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Don't Blame Donors for Ideological Polarization of Political Parties: Ideological Change and Stability Among Political Contributors, 1972-2008

Raymond La Raja & David Wiltse
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Are campaign contributors to parties and candidates in the United States becoming more ideological? Popular and scholarly accounts suggest that political contributors have disproportionate influence in politics, which suggests an important role for them in shaping party ideology and widening the divide between the major American parties. Using the American National Election Studies (ANES) time series data from 1972 to 2008, we find that although the importance of ideology in motivating donations fluctuates from election to election, there is substantial ideological stability in the donor population over time until 2002 when the proportion of ideological donors sharply increases. Ideological extremism has not become a stronger predictor of contributing money. We conclude that mass donors are not necessarily driving partisan polarization. The implication is that politicians are not so much responsive to ideological extremism as they are strategic in mobilizing ideologues in pursuit of resources and electoral goals.

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Buying Policy? The Effects of Lobbyists' Resources on Their Policy Success

Amy McKay
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study tests the common assumption that wealthier interest groups have an advantage in policymaking by considering the lobbyist's experience, connections, and lobbying intensity as well as the organization's resources. Combining newly gathered information about lobbyists' resources and policy outcomes with the largest survey of lobbyists ever conducted, I find surprisingly little relationship between organizations' financial resources and their policy success - but greater money is linked to certain lobbying tactics and traits, and some of these are linked to greater policy success.

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Why Do Better-Looking Members of Congress Receive More Television Coverage?

Israel Waismel-Manor & Yariv Tsfati
Political Communication, Winter 2011, Pages 440-463

Abstract:
Based on psychological research on the attractiveness effect, this study investigated the role of legislators' physical attractiveness in shaping the amount of their news coverage. The physical attractiveness of members of the first session of the 110th U.S. Congress was evaluated by non-American college students. Computerized searches in news transcripts archived in Lexis-Nexis were used to determine the number of times each of the representatives appeared on national TV news, radio, and newspapers. Multivariate analysis, controlling for a host of predictors of coverage (e.g., seniority, state size, number of bills sponsored by members, number of press releases sponsored, members' ideology and extremity, and assignment to a prestigious committee), demonstrated that televised news coverage was associated with the measure of physical attractiveness. Possible mechanisms underlying the association were empirically explored.

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Indirect Presidential Influence, State-Level Approval, and Voting in the U.S. Senate

Caitlin Dwyer & Sarah Treul
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the current era of polarization, bipartisanship between a president and senators of the opposite party seems unlikely. Yet, we expect that given a senator's desire to please his constituents and ensure reelection, if a president is popular with constituents in a senator's home state, he can have an indirect influence on the senator's votes. We test this relationship using state-level presidential approval data, which are a district level cue for senators. The results suggest that when a president is popular with a senator's constituents, the senator becomes increasingly likely to cast a vote in support of the president's agenda regardless of partisanship. In fact, as approval in an opposite party senator's state increases, his agreement rate increases by a greater margin than it does for senators of the president's party. We also test the effect of reelection and determine that it tempers the bipartisanship a popular president can incite.

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Presidential Partisanship Reconsidered: Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, and the Rise of Polarized Politics

Daniel Galvin
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Extant research has given little consideration to the conditions under which presidential partisan behavior might vary. This has undermined comparative analyses and obscured important partisan behaviors in earlier periods simply because they took unfamiliar forms. This article develops theoretical expectations to aid in the detection of different varieties of presidential partisanship. Illustrative case studies then examine one type - sub-rosa partisanship - observed in the Eisenhower, Nixon, and Ford presidencies. Though not overt partisan displays like those that are common today, their efforts to build southern party organizations made important contributions to American political development and to evolving modes of presidential partisanship.

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Rational incompetence

Jinhee Jo & Lawrence Rothenberg
Journal of Theoretical Politics, January 2012, Pages 3-18

Abstract:
When something goes awry in a governmental agency, a frequent claim is that appointed political heads are incompetent. If true, what explains this in a separation of powers system where the executive nominates and the legislature approves? Our analysis provides a rationale and conditions for rational incompetence. Specifically, we present a model in which a President nominates and the Senate confirms or rejects an appointee. Besides choosing a nominee's ideology, the President can determine competence, with less competence meaning more policy outcome variance. Interestingly, without assuming that political actors are inherently risk takers, we identify conditions generating what Goemans and Fey (2009) have labeled institutionally-induced risk taking, where both the President and the relevant filibuster pivot propose and approve an incompetent administrator in equilibrium. Reasons for incompetence go beyond pure loyalty or patronage, and our model corresponds to contemporary cases of seemingly incompetent administration.

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Public Ideology and Political Dynamics in the United States

Christopher Ellis
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article explores the role that two theoretically distinct conceptions of mass "ideology" - operational and symbolic - play in shaping policy and electoral change in the United States. I consider both types of ideology as aggregate, dynamic concepts, and find that though the public's operational and symbolic preferences change in broadly similar ways over time, there are consequential differences in how these two types of ideology respond to the political context and in how they intersect with important political and social outcomes. Changes in the public's operational ideology - the dominant direction of public views on specific policy matters - react systematically to changes in the policy context and are strongly predictive of both electoral outcomes and federal policy change. Changes in the public's symbolic ideology - the proportion of citizens who identify as liberals or conservatives - are essentially unconnected to changes in policy and only modestly predictive of electoral results.

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Constructing Accountability: Party Position Taking and Economic Voting

Timothy Hellwig
Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
A positive relationship between economic performance and support for incumbents is routinely taken as evidence that elections work for accountability. Recent investigations into this relationship have examined just how signals from the economy translate into popular support. However, neither selection models nor sanctioning models explicitly incorporate the actions of political elites. This article advances a strategic parties model of economic voting. Political incumbents have incentives to adjust their policy positions in response to economic conditions. When parties advocate distinct positions on economic issues, elections can be understood in terms of economic conditions. But when party positions converge, the quality of economic information declines. Incumbents can thus improve their chances of avoiding blame for a poor economy - or of claiming credit for a good one - by adjusting positions in policy space. Analyses of party positions, economic conditions, and election outcomes in 17 democracies over 35 years support this prediction.

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The lesser evil: Executive accountability with partisan supporters

Gerard Padró i Miquel & Erik Snowberg
Journal of Theoretical Politics, January 2012, Pages 19-45

Abstract:
We develop a model of electoral accountability with primaries. Prior to the general election, the supporters of each of two parties decide which candidates to nominate. We show that supporters suffer from a fundamental tension: while they want politicians who will faithfully implement the party's agenda in office, they need politicians who can win elections. Accountability to supporters fails when supporters fear that by punishing or rewarding their incumbent for her loyalty or lack thereof, they unintentionally increase the electoral prospects of the opposing party. Therefore, accountability decreases with the importance that supporters assign to the elections, and it breaks down in two cases. First, a popular incumbent safely defects as she knows she will be re-nominated. Second, an unpopular incumbent defects because she knows she will be dismissed even if she follows the party line. These behaviors are labeled impunity and damnation, respectively, and are illustrated with case studies.

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The Control of Politicians in Normal Times and Times of Crisis: Wealth Accumulation by U.S. Congressmen, 1850-1880

Pablo Querubin & James Snyder
NBER Working Paper, December 2011

Abstract:
We employ a regression discontinuity design based on close elections to estimate the rents from a seat in the U.S. congress between 1850-1880. Using census data, we compare wealth accumulation among those who won or lost their first race by a small margin. We find evidence of significant returns for the first half of the 1860s, during the Civil War, but not for other periods. We hypothesize that increased opportunities from the sudden spike in government spending during the war and the decrease in control by the media and other monitors might have made it easier for incumbent congressmen to collect rents.

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A Blue Tide in the Golden State: Ballot Propositions, Population Change, and Party Identification in California

Joshua Dyck, Gregg Johnson & Jesse Wasson
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Party identification is notoriously "sticky," yet over the last three decades the California electorate has changed tremendously. A once red state has become one of the most reliable Democratic strongholds in the nation. What explains this change? One common explanation rests with population shifts and macropartisan trends. Another claims the combination of a rapidly expanding Latino electorate and a series of high-profile anti-immigrant ballot initiatives supported by the state's Republicans drove partisan change in California. Building off of previous research, we seek to reconcile the differential impacts of these factors on the state's Latinos and non-Hispanic Whites. Our analyses partially confirm and clarify previous findings regarding Latino partisan change, while directly challenging findings regarding partisan change among non-Hispanic Whites.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM