Party in Power

Kevin Lewis

January 03, 2010

Power Increases Hypocrisy: Moralizing in Reasoning, Immorality in Behavior

Joris Lammers, Diederik Stapel & Adam Galinsky
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Five studies explored whether power increases moral hypocrisy, a situation characterized by imposing strict moral standards on others but practicing less strict moral behavior oneself. In Experiment 1, compared to the powerless, the powerful condemned other people's cheating, while cheating more themselves. In Experiments 2-4, the powerful were more strict in judging others' moral transgressions but more lenient in judging their own transgressions. A final study found that the effect of power on moral hypocrisy depends on its legitimacy: When power was illegitimate, the moral hypocrisy effect not only disappeared but reversed, with the illegitimate powerful becoming more strict in judging their own than others' behavior. This pattern, which might be dubbed hypercrisy, was also found among low-power participants in Experiments 3 and 4. We discuss how patterns of hypocrisy and hypercrisy among the powerful and powerless can help perpetuate social inequality.


Partisanship, Political Control, and Economic Assessments

Alan Gerber & Gregory Huber
American Journal of Political Science, January 2010, Pages 153-173

Previous research shows that partisans rate the economy more favorably when their party holds power. There are several explanations for this association, including use of different evaluative criteria, selective perception, selective exposure to information, correlations between economic experiences and partisanship, and partisan bias in survey responses. We use a panel survey around the November 2006 election to measure changes in economic expectations and behavioral intentions after an unanticipated shift in political power. Using this design, we can observe whether the association between partisanship and economic assessments holds when some leading mechanisms thought to bring it about are excluded. We find that there are large and statistically significant partisan differences in how economic assessments and behavioral intentions are revised immediately following the Democratic takeover of Congress. We conclude that this pattern of partisan response suggests partisan differences in perceptions of the economic competence of the parties, rather than alternative mechanisms.


Value Preferences and Ideological Structuring of Attitudes in American Public Opinion

Brendon Swedlow & Mikel Wyckoff
American Politics Research, November 2009, Pages 1048-1087

In this study, we investigate four attitudinal structures (including liberal, conservative, and libertarian configurations) associated with two ideological dimensions among American voters and demonstrate that these attitudinal structures are related in expected ways to differential preferences for the values of freedom, order, and equality/caring. Liberals are inclined to trade freedom for equality/caring but not for order, whereas conservatives are their opposites-willing to trade freedom for order but not for equality/caring. In contrast, libertarians are generally less willing than others to trade freedom for either order or equality/caring (although they probably prefer order to equality/caring). The fourth ideological type is more willing than the others to relinquish freedom, preferring both order and equality/caring. Depending on how our results are interpreted, this fourth type may be characterized as either communitarian or humanitarian. These findings help close the gap between unidimensional conceptions and multidimensional evidence of ideological organization in political attitudes by demonstrating that value structure and attitudinal structure are strongly related in two ideological dimensions.


The Nature of Political Ideology in the Contemporary Electorate

Shawn Treier & Sunshine Hillygus
Public Opinion Quarterly, Winter 2009, Pages 679-703

Given the increasingly polarized nature of American politics, renewed attention has been focused on the ideological nature of the mass public. Using Bayesian Item Response Theory (IRT), we examine the contemporary contours of policy attitudes as they relate to ideological identity and we consider the implications for the way scholars conceptualize, measure, and use political ideology in empirical research. Although political rhetoric today is clearly organized by a single ideological dimension, we find that the belief systems of the mass public remain multidimensional, with many in the electorate holding liberal preferences on one dimension and conservative preferences on another. These cross-pressured individuals tend to self-identify as moderate (or say "Don't Know") in response to the standard liberal-conservative scale, thereby jeopardizing the validity of this commonly used measure. Our analysis further shows that failing to account for the multidimensional nature of ideological preferences can produce inaccurate predictions about the voting behavior of the American public.


Party Government and the "Cohesive Power of Public Plunder"

Royce Carroll & Henry Kim
American Journal of Political Science, January 2010, Pages 34-44

We argue that party government in the U.S. House of Representatives rests on two pillars: the pursuit of policy goals and the disbursement of particularistic benefits. Existing theories of party government argue that the majority party in the House is often successful in biasing policy outcomes in its favor. In the process, it creates "policy losers" among its own members who nevertheless support their party on procedural votes. We posit that the majority party creates an incentive for even the policy losers to support a procedural coalition through judicious distribution of particularistic benefits that compensates policy losers at a rate commensurate with the policy losses that they suffer. We evaluate our theory empirically using the concept of "roll rates" in conjunction with federal domestic outlays data for the period 1983-96. We find that, within the majority party, policy losers are favored in the distribution of "pork barrel" spending throughout this period.


Cooperative Party Factions in American Politics

Gregory Koger, Seth Masket & Hans Noel
American Politics Research, January 2010, Pages 33-53

What are the primary factions within the Democratic and Republican parties, and to what extent do rival factions cooperate? We address these questions using a unique data set of information sharing between party organizations, media outlets, 527s, and interest groups. Using social network methods, we identify two major information-sharing clusters, or expanded party networks; these networks correspond to a liberal/Democratic grouping and a conservative/Republican grouping. We further identify factions within each party network, but we find a high degree of cooperation between party factions. That is, our data suggest that beneath the intraparty disagreements we observe in primary elections and policy debates there is a subterranean pattern of organizational cooperation.


The Neglected Power of Elite Opinion Leadership to Produce Antipathy Toward the News Media: Evidence from a Survey Experiment

Jonathan McDonald Ladd
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Today, most Americans dislike the news media as an institution. This has led to considerable debate about why people dislike the media and how their public standing could be improved. This paper contributes to this literature by using a survey experiment to test the effect of several different considerations on evaluations of the media. It finds, consistent with the broader literature on political persuasion, that elite partisan opinion leadership can powerfully shape these attitudes. Additionally, it finds that tabloid coverage creates antipathy toward the press regardless of predispositions and that horserace coverage has a negative effect on opinions among politically aware citizens on both sides of the political spectrum. Contrary to some claims in the literature, this study finds no detectable effect of news negativity.


The nature of the relationship between personality traits and political attitudes

Brad Verhulst, Peter Hatemi & Nicholas Martin
Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming

Building upon a series of works by Thomas J. Bouchard, Lindon J. Eaves, Hans J. Eysenck and other contemporaries, we present strong evidence that the assumed causal relationship between personality and left-right ideology is too simplistic. We suggest the relationship is not predictive and instead is better understood by dividing the overarching left-right ideological spectrum into more meaningful attitude dimensions. In doing so, we find that Psychoticism is strongly related to conservative positions on Punishment, Religious, and Sex attitudes, whereas Social Desirability is related to liberal positions on the same attitudes. Furthermore, the nature of the covariance between Psychoticism and social attitudes is due to a common genetic influence, while covariance between Social Desirability and these attitudes in females is largely a function of common shared environmental covariance.


Strategic political commentary

Todd Kendall
Public Choice, January 2010, Pages 151-175

I model the media's role in transmitting information to voters in a strategic framework. Media outlets in which commentators speak primarily to voters of like type face strong incentives to reveal private information about political choices truthfully, while "mainstream" outlets observed by all types of voters face mixed incentives. Also, the number of preference-matched news outlets determines the informativeness of the mainstream media; a general increase in the number of news outlets does not necessarily improve the quality of information conveyed by the media. The model also rationalizes why commentators of a single political preference predominate in the mainstream media.


Congressional Parties and the Mobilization of Leadership PAC Contributions

Eric Heberlig & Bruce Larson
Party Politics, forthcoming

Traditionally, observers have characterized leadership political action committees (LPACs) as tools used by political entrepreneurs to build personal coalitions supporting their power and policy goals. We argue that political context - namely, competition for control of the House and the advancement structures created by the parties - shapes the way House members use LPAC contributions to advance their careers. As congressional parties have become more oriented towards attaining majority status since the GOP takeover in 1995, LPAC contributions should have shifted towards helping the party win majority status rather than building individual coalitions. We use rare events logit to estimate the probability of incumbent to candidate contributions in the 1990, 1998 and 2004 election cycles. Our evidence shows that Democratic, but not Republican, LPAC contributions have generally become more party-centred as party margins have tightened.

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