Power plays

Kevin Lewis

October 12, 2018

All Male Panels? Representation and Democratic Legitimacy
Amanda Clayton, Diana O'Brien & Jennifer Piscopo
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming


What does women's presence in political decision‐making bodies signal to citizens? Do these signals differ based on the body's policy decisions? And do women and men respond to women's presence similarly? Though scholars have demonstrated the substantive and symbolic benefits of women's representation, little work has examined how women's presence affects citizens' perceptions of democratic legitimacy. We test the relationship between representation and legitimacy beliefs through survey experiments on a nationally representative sample of U.S. citizens. First, we find that women's equal presence legitimizes decisions that go against women's interests. We show suggestive evidence that this effect is particularly pronounced among men, who tend to hold less certain views on women's rights. Second, across decision outcomes and issue areas, women's equal presence legitimizes decision‐making processes and confers institutional trust and acquiescence. These findings add new theoretical insights into how, when, and for whom inclusive representation increases perceptions of democratic legitimacy.

Nice Girls? Sex, Collegiality, and Bipartisan Cooperation in the US Congress
Jennifer Lawless, Sean Theriault & Samantha Guthrie
Journal of Politics, October 2018, Pages 1268-1282


When women in Congress solve a high-profile problem, their colleagues and the media praise their ability to get Washington’s business done by collaborating and compromising in a way that men do not. The problem with this popularly held view is that it is entirely anecdotal. In assembling several new data sets to test this proposition systematically, we find that women are more likely than men to participate in the kinds of activities that foster collegiality. But we uncover almost no evidence that women’s legislative behavior on fact finding abroad, cosponsoring legislation, or engaging the legislative process differs from men’s. The partisan divide that now characterizes the legislative process creates strong disincentives for women (and men) to engage in bipartisan problem solving. To be sure, women’s presence in Congress promotes democratic legitimacy, but it does little to reduce gridlock and stalemate on Capitol Hill.

Local television, citizen knowledge and U.S. senators' roll-call voting
Mattias Nordin
European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming


I study the effect of access to local television on citizens' political knowledge. I do so by utilizing the mismatch between U.S. television markets and state borders, causing some citizens to receive local television which primarily covers neighboring state politics. I find that access to relevant local television causes citizens to be more informed about their senators' roll-call votes, and more likely to hold opinions about these senators. I also find that citizens with access to relevant local television are more likely to assess their senators based on how well the senators' roll-call votes align with the citizens' policy preferences. These results suggest that passively acquired information through television can help individuals evaluate their elected representatives.

How Does Partisanship Influence Policy Diffusion?
Daniel Butler & Miguel Pereira
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming


We explore the role of partisanship in policy diffusion. Previous studies suggest that partisanship may influence the willingness of public officials to learn from the experience of their peers. Officials’ willingness to consider policies endorsed by copartisans can arise either because party labels are used as informational cues or simply due to copartisan imitation. In the latter case, knowing more about the policy trade-offs should have no effects on politicians’ preferences. Based on two experiments with local public officials where both the party endorsing a policy and the type of information provided were manipulated, we find consistent partisan bias. When a policy is endorsed by copartisans, public officials are more likely to consider pursuing it, and additional policy information does not mitigate this bias. Exploratory analyses of the information-seeking behavior of officials suggest that the partisan bias is not due to differential exposure or attention to policy trade-offs.

Who Polices the Administrative State?
Kenneth Lowande
American Political Science Review, November 2018, Pages 874-890


Scholarship on oversight of the bureaucracy typically conceives of legislatures as unitary actors. But most oversight is conducted by individual legislators who contact agencies directly. I acquire the correspondence logs of 16 bureaucratic agencies and re-evaluate the conventional proposition that ideological disagreement drives oversight. I identify the effect of this disagreement by exploiting the transition from George Bush to Barack Obama, which shifted the ideological orientation of agencies through turnover in agency personnel. Contrary to existing research, I find ideological conflict has a negligible effect on oversight, whereas committee roles and narrow district interests are primary drivers. The findings may indicate that absent incentives induced by public auditing, legislator behavior is driven by policy valence concerns rather than ideology. The results further suggest collective action in Congress may pose greater obstacles to bureaucratic oversight than previously thought.

Does Homeownership Influence Political Behavior? Evidence from Administrative Data
Andrew Hall & Jesse Yoder
Stanford Working Paper, August 2018


Does owning property influence how individuals engage in the political process? This is a fundamental question in political economy, and a timely one given recent interest in understanding “NIMBYism” and the political influence of homeowners. We combine deed-level data on homeownership with administrative data on voter turnout in local and national elections for more than 18 million individuals in Ohio and North Carolina. Using a difference-in-differences design, we find that buying a home leads individuals to participate substantially more in local elections, on average. We also collect data on local ballot initiatives, and we find that the homeowner turnout boost is almost twice as large in times and places where zoning issues are on the ballot. Additionally, the effect of homeownership increases with the price of the home purchase, suggesting that asset investment may be an important mechanism for the participatory effects. Overall, the results suggest that individual economic circumstances importantly influence political beliefs and behavior, and suggest that homeowners have special influence in American politics in part because their ownership motivates them to pay attention and to participate.

When Does a Group of Citizens Influence Policy? Evidence from Senior Citizen Participation in City Politics
Sarah Anzia
Journal of Politics, forthcoming


When does a group of citizens influence public policy? Mainstream American politics research emphasizes the importance of the group’s presence in the electorate, while other scholars argue that group cohesiveness, organization, and nonvoting political activity are potentially more important. These two strands of the literature have largely developed in parallel, in part because they tend to employ different empirical methods. In this article, I attempt to bridge the divide between them and test these ideas within the same empirical framework, using senior citizens and senior-friendly transportation policy as a test case. My results show that senior voting does not unconditionally predict policies friendlier to seniors. Instead, I find that city policies are friendlier to seniors when seniors are a more cohesive, meaningful group and when they engage in activities other than voting. Moreover, when seniors are a cohesive group, their share of the electorate does matter for policy outcomes.

The Macro-dynamics of Partisan Advantage
Logan Dancey, Matthew Tarpey & Jonathan Woon
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming


How do party reputations change over time? We construct a measure of the common movement in the parties’ perceived policy handling abilities for the period 1980 to 2016 and investigate its relationship with the public’s evaluation of Congress and the president. In contrast to key claims made in theories of congressional parties, we find an inconsistent relationship between evaluations of Congress and party reputations and find no evidence that successful agenda control enhances the majority party’s reputation. Instead, our analysis shows a strong relationship between party reputations and presidential approval, reaffirming the central role the president plays in shaping party reputations.

Federal Complexity and Perception of State Party Ideology in the United States
Bradford Bishop
Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Fall 2018, Pages 559-585


Scholarship has established that ideological positions offered by state parties differ substantially from the national parties, and from one another. However, less attention has been devoted to investigating whether ordinary people are aware of the ideological distinctiveness of state parties. In particular, do people notice that their state party is ideologically different than the national party? In this article, I draw upon theories of low information rationality to develop an account of public reasoning about state parties. I analyze public opinion about state parties using an original survey fielded as part of the 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Study. I find limited evidence that ordinary people are responsive to the actual legislative behavior of state parties. Instead, individuals’ judgments about state party ideology may be rooted in inferences drawn from national-level politics. The findings support arguments that a complicated federal structure obscures the role of state-level actors in the policymaking process.

Presidentially Directed Policy Change: The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs as Partisan or Moderator?
Simon Haeder & Susan Webb Yackee
Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, October 2018, Pages 475-488


US presidents - working through the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) - influence administrative agencies by directing agencies to modify their regulatory policy proposals before finalization. We identify two competing hypotheses from the literature to explain this presidential intervention. First, some scholars hypothesize that presidents are more likely to change proposals when the submitting agency’s political ideology differs from the president’s. Second, others argue that presidents are more likely to correct ideologically extreme agencies of either political orientation. These claims have not been adequately investigated quantitatively. We study almost 1,500 final regulations reviewed by OIRA between 2005 and 2011. In the end, neither hypothesis garners support. Instead, we demonstrate that regulations proposed by more liberally oriented agencies are more likely to be changed - and the content of the rules changed to a greater degree - than those proposed by other agency types. Those results suggest a provocative third possibility: presidentially directed deregulation through OIRA review.

The electoral costs of policy commitments
Timm Betz
Political Science Research and Methods, forthcoming


Existing arguments across political science posit that parties in government use domestic and international institutions to lock in their own policy preferences by tying the hands of successors. I demonstrate that these arguments contrast with the assumption of office-seeking parties and therefore portray an incomplete picture of the incentives of governments. The paper emphasizes the trade-off between implementing policy preferences, on the one hand, and exploiting partisan differences for electoral success, on the other hand: locking in a policy takes an issue off the table, but it also undermines a party’s ability to leverage differences to the opposition in elections. Because office-seeking parties need to take into account these electoral consequences, they have a disincentive to tie their successors’ hands. I advance this argument in the context of the establishment of independent central banks, provide empirical evidence, and suggest implications for the literature on international institutions.

Ideology, Party, and Opinion: Explaining Individual Legislator ACA Implementation Votes in the States
Boris Shor
State Politics & Policy Quarterly, forthcoming


Why do state legislators vote the way they do? Which influence is predominant: ideology, party, or public opinion? The implementation votes surrounding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides a unique setting to examine this question, as they make all three considerations highly salient. State roll call votes on ACA implementation were sometimes polarized and sometimes unexpectedly bipartisan. What accounts for the heterogeneity in individual legislator behavior on bills implementing the ACA at the state level? Using new data on legislator ideology and votes from 2011-2015, I show evidence that legislator ideology was by far the most important predictor of voting on implementation votes, far more so than legislator party or public opinion. Moreover, I show the influence of ideology is heterogeneous by issue area and bill.

The Persistence of the Power Elite: Presidential Cabinets and Corporate Interlocks, 1968-2018
Timothy Gill
Social Currents, forthcoming


In his seminal text, The Power Elite, C. Wright Mills initially drew critical attention to U.S. state power, asserting that economic, political, and military elites flow through a revolving door, cycling in and out of positions of power. Following its publication, several social scientists began to examine the nature of the U.S. state, including individuals like G. William Domhoff and Michael Useem. One particular work by Peter Freitag examined the class composition of presidential cabinets. Freitag examined whether presidential cabinet members came from the elite corporate sphere, went into the elite corporate sphere following their tenure in office, the extent of interlocks among the Democratic and Republican Parties, and whether particular cabinet positions were more interlocked with the elite corporate sphere than others. In this article, I examine these same questions, looking at presidential cabinets between 1968 and 2018, that is, across the last half-century. In doing so, I find consistency with many of Freitag’s initial findings: most presidential cabinets remain heavily interlocked, there is little difference between Democratic and Republican cabinets, and there is a significant amount of cabinet members that come from and enter the elite corporate sphere following their time in office.

Contagious Republicanism in Louisiana, 1966-2014
M.V.Hood & James Monogan
Political Geography, September 2018, Pages 1-13


In this paper, we build on prior work by Hood, Kidd, and Morris (2012), who show that growth in Republican identification in Southern states since 1965 rose in response to black mobilization. In their theory of relative advantage, as more African-Americans registered with the Democratic Party, white voters could maintain the same intraparty status by moving to the sparser-populated Republican Party. In this project, we focus on Louisiana and how the state's local-level politics created the opportunity for partisan contagion among parishes for organizational, electoral, and mobilization reasons. We show that, beyond the factors known to contribute to a rise in Republican identification in the South, whenever a parish in Louisiana became more Republican, there were spillover effects in neighboring parishes. Hence, as one parish became more Republican, neighboring parishes followed suit. We also show that as the extraction of natural resources such as oil and natural gas rose, a parish was more inclined to become more Republican.

Voter uncertainty, political institutions, and legislative turnover
Yanna Krupnikov & Charles Shipan
Political Science Research and Methods, forthcoming


The level of legislative turnover in a polity can have significant political consequences. Low turnover may increase the number of legislators who are out of touch with constituents, while high turnover can limit a legislature’s ability to fulfill its duties. Focusing on separation of powers arrangements, a factor overlooked by previous studies, we identify institutional conditions that affect turnover. When the executive and legislature are equally responsible for budgetary outcomes, we argue, this creates ambiguous contexts, leaving voters more likely to re-elect incumbents, thereby lowering turnover. We test our predictions using US state-level data.

Constitutional Choices: Political Parties, Groups, and Prohibition Politics in the United States
Aaron Ley & Cornell Clayton
Journal of Policy History, October 2018, Pages 609-634


Traditional accounts of the Eighteenth and Twenty-first Amendments to the U.S. Constitution largely ignore the role of the major political parties. We argue that partisan politics was an integral part of the constitutional politics of this period. The need to manage divisions within both parties’ electoral coalitions during the transition from the third to the fourth-party systems led to the enactment of the Eighteenth Amendment without support from either national party. While most accounts trace prohibition’s demise to widespread noncompliance and the graft it generated, we argue that elite congressional support for prohibition gave way when civil service reforms removed federal prohibition agents as patronage resources. We also argue that by giving states control of designing state conventions, and thereby risking state malapportionment of conventions, Democrats succeeded in overcoming the traditional fissures that divided their southern and northern wings.

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