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Friday, February 22, 2013

Representation

 

Legislative Responsiveness to Gerrymandering: Evidence from the 2003 Texas Redistricting

James Lo
Quarterly Journal of Political Science, January 2013, Pages 75-92

Abstract:
Do legislators respond to congressional redistricting? A central tenet of American legislative scholarship over the last 20~years argues that members of Congress maintain consistent ideological positions throughout their tenure, and thus do not generally adapt their voting records to changes in the electoral environment. In contrast, a second literature argues that legislators are predominantly motivated by electoral incentives through an electoral connection, forcing them to adapt to the shifting environment as agents of the electorate. In this research note, I test these competing theories using data from the 2003 Texas redistricting. Despite being treated to a targeted gerrymander subjecting them to extreme electoral pressure, I find little evidence of ideological adaption in the voting records of eight Democrats that were targeted for defeat. My results thus confirm the earlier findings of Poole (2007) and have broader implications for the study of political representation and polarization.

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Appropriators not Position Takers: The Distorting Effects of Electoral Incentives on Congressional Representation

Justin Grimmer
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Congressional districts create two levels of representation. Studies of representation focus on a disaggregated level: the electoral connection between representatives and constituents. But there is a collective level of representation - the result of aggregating across representatives. This article uses new measures of home styles to demonstrate that responsiveness to constituents can have negative consequences for collective representation. The electoral connection causes marginal representatives - legislators with districts composed of the other party's partisans - to emphasize appropriations in their home styles. But it causes aligned representatives - those with districts filled with copartisans - to build their home styles around position taking. Aggregated across representatives, this results in an artificial polarization in stated party positions: aligned representatives, who tend to be ideologically extreme, dominate policy debates. The logic and evidence in this article provide an explanation for the apparent rise in vitriolic debate, and the new measures facilitate a literature on home styles.

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The Effects of Redistricting on Incumbents

Stephen Ansolabehere & James Snyder
Election Law Journal, December 2012, Pages 490-502

Abstract:
We analyze the effects of redistricting on the electoral fortunes of incumbent legislators, using voting data on U.S. congressional districts, state legislative districts, and statewide races. We find little evidence that redistricting helps incumbents in U.S. legislative elections. If anything, redrawing district lines reduces the average vote margin of those in districted offices compared with offices that are not districted, reduces electoral security, and increases turnover in the legislature.

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Do Politicians Shape Public Opinion?

Tetsuya Matsubayashi
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Most research on political representation focuses on how citizens' ideology and partisanship influence their support for political candidates - leaving the question of whether (and how) elected officials influence citizens' positions on political issues open to debate. The hypothesis tested here - using a unique, quasi-experimental design with American National Election Study data between 1956 and 2004 - is that Democratic representatives shift the opinions of constituents in the pro-Democratic and liberal direction, while Republican representatives shift constituents' opinions in the pro-Republican and conservative direction. The findings show that incumbent representatives indeed move their constituents' opinions in a particular direction, and that representatives have a stronger impact on constituents who are more frequently exposed to their messages.

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Mobilizing Money: Political Action Committees and Political Participation

Robert Lowry
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
A great deal of research focuses on contributions by political action committees (PACs) to candidates, but PACs are also institutional mechanisms for mobilizing contributions by individuals. Restrictions on the ability of PACs sponsored by businesses, trade associations, and labor unions to solicit contributions and the private benefits of contributing imply that these PACs are likely to mobilize donors who do not otherwise contribute to political campaigns. Analysis of itemized contributions to PACs during the 2004 election cycle confirms this. Moreover, the numbers of donors and dollars contributed to sponsored PACs aggregated by congressional district during 1996-2006 are relatively unaffected by electoral competition, presidential cycles, or changes in campaign finance regulations, and the effects of urbanization are less uniform than for nonconnected PACs. PACs sponsored by economic institutions therefore expand the pool of donors beyond the usual suspects.

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The Impact of Direct Democracy on Governance: A Replication and Extension

Ly Lac & Edward Lascher
California Journal of Politics and Policy, January 2013, Pages 30-46

Abstract:
Does the state ballot initiative process affect American states' ability to meet widely accepted standards of "good governance?" This question is relevant in many places, but especially in California which makes the heaviest use of the popular initiative. While much recent non-academic work suggests the process has ill effects in the Golden State and elsewhere, there has been little systematic scholarly investigation of this topic; the notable exception is R.J. Dalton's work in 2008. Building on, updating, and extending his study, we examine whether the presence and extent of ballot initiative use affects Government Performance Project grades. Controlling for many other variables, we find a generally negative relationship between initiative use and such grades. This has worrisome implications for governance.

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Informational and Monetary Lobbying: Expert Politicians, Good Decisions?

Mike Felgenhauer
Journal of Public Economic Theory, February 2013, Pages 125-155

Abstract:
This paper finds that the strategic interaction between opposing interest groups depends on the decision maker's expertise. If the costs to provide information are sufficiently low, then the decision quality is nonmonotonic in the politician's expertise. An expert may attract less informational lobbying and make worse decisions than a politician who is ex ante endowed with less information and therefore less predisposed to a particular policy.

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Descriptive Representation, Political Efficacy, and African Americans in the 2008 Presidential Election

Jennifer Merolla, Abbylin Sellers & Derek Fowler
Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Political efficacy is an important psychological orientation that has been used extensively by scholars to help explain voting and other forms of participation. However, very few scholars have sought to treat political efficacy as a dependent variable. In this research note, we look at the linkage between descriptive representation and political efficacy. Drawing from existing literature, we argue that an increase in descriptive representation positively affects levels of political efficacy. We examine support for this argument by looking at whether levels of efficacy increased among African Americans after the election of Barack Obama using data from the 2008-2009 American National Election Studies (ANES) panel study. We find that the effects of descriptive representation on efficacy varied depending on one's partisanship. Black Republicans, Independents, and weak Democrats experienced an increase in efficacy. However, Black Democrats and White Democrats who strongly identify with the party experienced a similar boost in efficacy, which suggests that partisanship can override the effects of having a descriptive representative.

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Listening and Representation

Rebekah Herrick
State Politics & Policy Quarterly, March 2013, Pages 88-106

Abstract:
Policy representation requires legislators to advance the interests of their constituents. As a consequence, much research on representation examines the congruence between constituents' preferences and legislators' behaviors. This article argues it is more realistic to think of policy representation as listening - a process - than congruence - an outcome. Listening involves legislators monitoring constituent interests and using that information in making decisions. Using data from a survey of state legislators in 26 states, this research finds that monitoring contributes to using constituent information and offers a measure of listening based on these two behaviors. Furthermore, it finds that compared with the decisions of others, the decisions (measured as cosponsoring gay, lesbian, and bisexual [GLB] issue legislation) of legislators who listen are more strongly influenced by district preferences (measured as district votes on same-sex marriage ballot initiatives). This suggests that listening contributes to representation.

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Does it help to have friends in high places? Bank stock performance and congressional committee chairmanships

Daniel Gropper, John Jahera & Jung Chul Park
Journal of Banking & Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does a politician with power in the U.S. Congress positively affect the value of firms headquartered in their home state? We investigate this question by examining the profitability and stock performance of commercial banks. Banks can be enormously influenced by the political and regulatory environment. We find that banks headquartered in states where a Senator or member of the House of Representatives serves as the chairman on their respective banking committee in Congress outperform banks headquartered in other states. In addition, we find that this "chair effect" is more pronounced when the committee chairs are strongly aligned with other politicians in Congress, when they are more experienced, and when banks are clustered in the home state, suggesting that the potential benefits generated from chairmanship are in more demand. Overall, our results suggest that there are some important value implications of a local politician's power in Congress.

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The Policy Origins of Congressional Approval

Mark Ramirez
Journal of Politics, January 2013, Pages 198-209

Abstract:
It is widely presumed that political support is contingent on satisfaction with the policy decisions made by political authorities. Yet, there is little evidence that support for the nation's chief legislative branch is a function of its policy outputs. This research shows that Congress' approval ratings are linked to the degree important legislation deviates from the public's ideological mood. The results of an error-correction model show that these policy origins of support are as important as other determinants of approval such as partisan conflict and the economy. The effect of policy divergence from public opinion is also accentuated during periods of unified government when there might be a normative expectation that shared partisan control should translate into policy success. The findings substantiate conventional wisdom regarding the relationship between congressional approval and policy, spatial theories of voting, and models of the electoral behavior of congressional members.

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Resource allocation when different candidates are stronger on different issues

Patrick Hummel
Journal of Theoretical Politics, January 2013, Pages 128-149

Abstract:
I present a model in which different candidates are stronger on different issues and an incumbent must decide how many resources to devote to each of two different issues. I derive conditions under which the incumbent has an incentive to devote an inefficiently high amount of resources to the issue in which the incumbent is weakest so that voters will be relatively more concerned about the issue on which the incumbent is strongest and be more inclined to vote for a candidate that is strong on that issue. I find that incumbents are especially likely to use an inefficient resource allocation if voters care a lot about the issue in which the incumbent is strongest before the election or they will care moderately about multiple issues after the election.

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The Varying Political Toll of Concerns About Corruption in Good Versus Bad Economic Times

Elizabeth Zechmeister & Daniel Zizumbo-Colunga
Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Under what conditions do citizens connect concerns about corruption to their evaluations of sitting executives? In contrast to conventional scholarship positing a direct, negative relationship between corruption and political support, we build on a small but suggestive body of research to argue that this relationship is conditional on economic context. We test this claim with national survey data collected in 19 presidential systems as part of the AmericasBarometer 2010 study. Using both fixed effects ordinary least squares and hierarchical linear regression analyses, we show that individuals facing bad (good) collective economic conditions apply a higher (lower) penalty to presidential approval for perceived political corruption. This result holds across both an individual-level indicator of national economic assessment and a regional economic measure; we further test, and find less substantial results for, the moderating influence of personal economic conditions on the political toll of corruption perceptions.

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Unwelcome Constituents: Redistricting and Countervailing Partisan Tides

M.V. Hood & Seth McKee
State Politics & Policy Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
We analyze the effect of redrawn constituents on incumbent vote shares in Georgia U.S. House elections from 1992 to 2006. The Georgia General Assembly redrew the congressional boundaries for the 2006 midterm and the new lines redistributed approximately 31% of residents into districts with a different incumbent than the one representing them in 2004. With the use of Voting Tabulation District (VTD) data, we use a hierarchical model to evaluate the effect these redrawn constituents had on their new incumbent's vote share. We find a consistent pattern: both Democratic and Republican incumbents experienced significant reductions in their vote shares as a consequence of the redrawn VTDs placed in their districts. The short-term political climate featuring a national Democratic tide and a simultaneous statewide trend favoring the Grand Old Party (GOP) helps to explain this finding. With offsetting partisan conditions, the incumbency advantage came to the fore as Georgia U.S. House members, irrespective of party affiliation, performed better among the constituents they retained prior to redistricting. Our findings for the 2006 election run counter to the significant Republican redistricting advantage prevailing in Georgia congressional contests from 1992 to 2004.

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Rational Irrationality and the Political Process of Repeal: The Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform and the 21st Amendment

Michael Thomas, Diana Thomas & Nicholas Snow
Kyklos, February 2013, Pages 130-152

Abstract:
The theory of rational irrationality suggests that voters are biased and do not face sufficient incentives to choose rationally; instead they vote for various private reasons. As a result, socially and economically destructive policies can receive widespread public support. Furthermore, because there is no private benefit of learning from experience, such policies can persist over time. We argue here that despite this otherwise dismal outlook on public policy, the theory of rational irrationality leaves two avenues for economically sensible reform: First, when the ex post costs of irrationality are higher than expected, rationally irrational voters will reduce their consumption of irrationality and demand more rational policies. Second, rationally irrational voters can be convinced to rationally update their policy preferences through the use of appealing rhetoric and persuasion by experts. We discuss these two avenues for reform using the example of the repeal of the 18th amendment, which, as we will show, relied on both updating as well as persuasive campaigning.

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Voting Power, Policy Representation, and Disparities in Voting's Rewards

John Griffin & Brian Newman
Journal of Politics, January 2013, Pages 52-64

Abstract:
Reelection-minded officials have motivations to represent some of their constituents more than others when casting roll-call votes. In particular, reelection seekers have incentives to appeal to those with greater "voting power" (Bartels 1998): those who are likely to vote, are not strongly predisposed to vote for one of the parties, and are members of large groups within a particular constituency. We present two novel findings stemming from these incentives. First, we find that those with greater voting power tend to enjoy better policy representation. Second, the rewards of voting are greater for those belonging to groups with more voting power. Since voting power varies across racial/ethnic and income lines, these findings hold significant normative implications.

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Unions Against Governments: Explaining General Strikes in Western Europe, 1980-2006

Kerstin Hamann, Alison Johnston & John Kelly
Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Across Western Europe, unions have increasingly engaged in staging general strikes against governments since 1980. This increase in general strikes is puzzling as it has occurred at the same time as economic strikes have been on the decline. We posit that theories developed to explain economic strikes hold little explanatory power in accounting for variation in general strikes across countries and over time. Instead, we develop a framework based on political variables; in particular, whether governments have included or excluded unions in framing policy reforms; the party position of the government; and the type of government. Our empirical analysis, based on a conditional fixed-effects logit estimation of 84 general strikes between 1980 and 2006, shows that union exclusion from the process of reforming policies, government strength, and the party position of the government can provide an initial explanation for the occurrence of general strikes.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM