Representative of government

Kevin Lewis

March 27, 2015

Presidential Particularism and Divide-the-Dollar Politics

Douglas Kriner & Andrew Reeves
American Political Science Review, February 2015, Pages 155-171

When influencing the allocation of federal dollars across the country, do presidents strictly pursue maximally efficient outcomes, or do they systematically target dollars to politically influential constituencies? In a county-level analysis of federal spending from 1984 to 2008, we find that presidents are not universalistic, but particularistic — that is, they reliably direct dollars to specific constituents to further their political goals. As others have noted, presidents target districts represented by their co-partisans in Congress in the pursuit of influence vis-à-vis the legislature. But we show that, at much higher levels, presidents target both counties within swing states and counties in core states that strongly supported the president in recent elections. Swing state particularism is especially salient during presidential reelection years, and core partisan counties within swing states are most heavily rewarded. Rather than strictly pursuing visions of good public policy or pandering to the national median voter, our results suggest that presidents systematically prioritize the needs of politically important constituents.


The Influence of News Media on Political Elites: Investigating Strategic Responsiveness in Congress

Kevin Arceneaux et al.
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

News media play a central role in democratic politics, yet we know little about how media affect the behavior of policy makers. To understand the conditions under which news media influence political elites, we advance a theory of strategic responsiveness, which contends that elected representatives are more likely to heed their constituents' preferences when voters are attentive. Accordingly, news media's influence on legislative behavior should be most apparent near elections and dependent on the partisan composition of the constituency. We capitalize on the incremental rollout of the conservative Fox News Channel in the late 1990s to evaluate our theoretical predictions. Fox News caused both Republicans and Democrats in Congress to increase support for the Republican Party position on divisive votes, but only in the waning months of the election cycle and among those members who represent districts with a sizable portion of Republican voters.


Pulling Closer and Moving Apart: Interaction, Identity, and Influence in the U.S. Senate, 1973 to 2009

Christopher Liu & Sameer Srivastava
American Sociological Review, February 2015, Pages 192-217

This article reconciles two seemingly incompatible expectations about interpersonal interaction and social influence. One theoretical perspective predicts that an increase in interaction between two actors will promote subsequent convergence in their attitudes and behaviors, whereas another view anticipates divergence. We examine the role of political identity in moderating the effects of interaction on influence. Our investigation takes place in the U.S. Senate — a setting in which actors forge political identities for public consumption based on the external constraints, normative obligations, and reputational concerns they face. We argue that interaction between senators who share the same political identity will promote convergence in their voting behavior, whereas interaction between actors with opposing political identities will lead to divergence. Moreover, we theorize that the consequences of political identity for interpersonal influence depend on the local interaction context. Political identity’s effects on influence will be greater in more divided Senate committees than in less divided ones. We find support for these hypotheses in analyses of data, spanning over three decades, on voting behavior, interaction, and political identity in the Senate. These findings contribute to research on social influence; elite integration and political polarization; and identity theory.


Federal employee unionization and presidential control of the bureaucracy: Estimating and explaining ideological change in executive agencies

Jowei Chen & Tim Johnson
Journal of Theoretical Politics, January 2015, Pages 151-174

We present a formal model explaining that US presidents strategically unionize federal employees to reduce bureaucratic turnover and ‘anchor’ the ideological composition of like-minded agency workforces. To test our model’s predictions, we advance a method of estimating bureaucratic ideology via the campaign contributions of federal employees; we then use these bureaucratic ideal point estimates in a comprehensive empirical test of our model. Consistent with our model’s predictions, our empirical tests find that federal employee unionization stifles agency turnover, suppresses ideological volatility when the president’s partisanship changes, and occurs more frequently in agencies ideologically proximate to the president.


Wall Street, Capitol Hill, and K Street: Political Influence and Financial Regulation

Deniz Igan & Prachi Mishra
Journal of Law and Economics, November 2014, Pages 1063-1084

This paper explores the link between the political influence of the financial industry and financial regulation in the run-up to the global financial crisis. We construct a detailed database documenting the lobbying activities, campaign contributions, and political connections of the financial industry from 1999 to 2006 in the United States. We find evidence that spending on lobbying by the financial industry and network connections between lobbyists and legislators were positively associated with the probability of a legislator changing positions in favor of deregulation. The evidence also suggests that hiring lobbyists who had worked for legislators in the past enhanced this link.


American Constitutional Exceptionalism Revisited

Mila Versteeg & Emily Zackin
University of Chicago Law Review, Fall 2014, Pages 1641-1707

The US Constitution is a global outlier. Its omission of positive rights, its brevity, and its remarkable duration and stability make it exceptional by global standards. The uniqueness of this venerable document has spurred a passionate debate over America’s constitutional exceptionalism. In this Article, we show that not all of American constitutionalism is nearly so distinctive. Over the past two centuries, Americans not only wrote the federal Constitution, but they have also written 149 state constitutions and approved thousands of amendments to those constitutions. Those state constitutions are also an essential part of the American constitutional tradition and yet are unexceptional by global standards. We draw on original data based on our own hand coding of all state constitutions ratified between 1776 and 2011 to provide the first systematic comparison of US state constitutions to the world’s national constitutions. Using these data, we highlight three features of state constitutions that should prompt reconsideration of America’s constitutional exceptionalism. First, like most of the world’s constitutions, state constitutions are rather long and elaborate documents that set out government policies in painstaking detail. Second, like most of the world’s constitutions, state constitutions are frequently amended or overhauled. Third, like most of the world’s constitutions, state constitutions contain positive rights relating to, for example, education, labor, social welfare, and the environment. Thus, at the state level, Americans have written their constitutions much like everyone else. Our findings invite reconsideration not only of America’s alleged constitutional exceptionalism but also of the nature of state constitutions. State constitutions are frequently derided for falling short of the example set by the federal Constitution and dismissed as statutory rather than constitutional in character. Our analysis suggests that the defining features of state constitutions do not merely represent a subnational mode of constitution making but characterize national and subnational constitutions alike. Moreover, these features represent an underappreciated mechanism of constitutional design that emphasizes flexibility and specificity over the entrenchment of broad statements of principles.


Divided governments and futures prices

Elvira Sojli & Wing Wah Tham
Journal of Econometrics, forthcoming

This paper investigates the effect of divided governments on asset prices. For identification, we use changes in the implied probability of a divided government while votes are being counted. Using high frequency data from the betting market and U.S. overnight futures market, we estimate a 1.4% decrease in the S&P 500 futures in the election event of a divided government. Results are similar for the 2010 U.K. election. Further analysis shows that divided government affects expected stock returns through the mechanism of policy uncertainty.


The unintended effects of political party affirmative action policies on female candidates’ nomination chances

Angela Bos
Politics, Groups and Identities, Winter 2015, Pages 73-93

Some state political party organizations that hold nominating conventions implement affirmative action (AA) policies to encourage the nomination of women and minority candidates. This paper assesses whether these policies help or hinder female candidates seeking statewide office. On the one hand, these policies could benefit female candidates since they demonstrate an organization's commitment to diversity. On the other hand, diversity and AA policies may have negative, unintended consequences for female candidates such as promoting gender stereotype activation or creating a stigma of incompetence for female candidates. I examine whether and how delegates’ awareness of these policies shapes candidate evaluations, gender stereotypes, and nominee choice. I test this by analyzing unique survey data from Democratic state nominating convention delegates who evaluate candidates in statewide nominations in four states. The results suggest that while evaluations of the female candidate are not downgraded, focus on AA leads Democratic delegates to inflate their views of her male opponent. Furthermore, when delegates perceive that their party focuses on AA, they are less likely to choose the female candidate, in part because this perceived focus highlights that female candidates might lack masculine strengths. The resulting implications for female candidates and political party organizations are discussed.


Court-Ordered Campaign Finance Deregulation and Stock Value of Contributors

Haishan Yuan
American Law and Economics Review, forthcoming

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 addressed two issues, soft money and independent expenditures on issue ads for electoral advocacy. The Supreme Court initially upheld most provisions in 2003 but subsequently weakened and struck down provisions on independent expenditures. I examine the stock value of firms with a long history of campaign contributions around the key developments of three Supreme Court cases. Stock prices of contributing firms react positively to Court events associated with campaign finance deregulation. It implies that the average rates of return to these rights of political spending are between 1 and 2% of stock values.


The Double-Edged Sword: The Effects of Journalists' Social Media Activities on Audience Perceptions of Journalists and Their News Products

Jayeon Lee
Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, forthcoming

As social media become popular news platforms, journalists and news organizations have been keen to capitalize on their potential to build and maintain audiences. However, little is known about the extent to which these efforts may have adverse implications. Based on normative theories, the present study investigates the influence of journalists' social media activities (specifically, self-disclosure and interaction with other users) on audience perceptions of journalists. An experiment (N = 267) revealed that: Although both journalists' self-disclosure and interaction positively influenced audience perceptions of the journalists in the personal dimension, interaction negatively influenced audience perceptions in the professional dimension; and the perceptions transferred to perceptions of news products, thereby mediating the relationship between journalists' social media activities and audience news perceptions.


An Opportunity Cost Theory of US Treaty Behavior

Judith Kelley & Jon Pevehouse
International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

The United States often leads in the creation of treaties, but it sometimes never joins those treaties or does so only after considerable delay. This presents an interesting puzzle. Most international relations theory expects states to join treaties as long as the benefits outweigh the costs. Domestic theories modify this with the constraints of institutional veto players. Yet, sometimes neither of these arguments explains the delay or absence of US participation. We supplement these explanations with an opportunity cost theory. We argue that the advice and consent process sometimes slows or stalls because it imposes costs in terms of legislative time and political capital. These costs alter the calculus of key players and may obstruct the process. Statistical analysis supports the argument. The priority the Senate and President give to treaties depends not only on the value they assign to the treaty, but also on the value of the time needed to process the treaty. Presidents are less, not more, likely to transmit treaties to the Senate the more support they have in Congress. Furthermore, the more support the President has in Congress, the more the cost of Senate floor time matters for advice and consent.


When Government Subsidizes Its Own: Collective Bargaining Laws as Agents of Political Mobilization

Patrick Flavin & Michael Hartney
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Government policies can activate a political constituency not only by providing material resources to, or altering the interpretive experiences of, individual citizens, but also by directly subsidizing established interest groups. We argue that state laws mandating collective bargaining for public employees provided organizational subsidies to public sector labor unions that lowered the costs of mobilizing their members to political action. Exploiting variation in the timing of laws across the states and using data on the political participation of public school teachers from 1956 to 2004, we find that the enactment of a mandatory bargaining law significantly boosted subsequent political participation among teachers. We also identify increased contact from organized groups seeking to mobilize teachers as a likely mechanism that explains this finding. These results have important implications for the current debate over collective bargaining rights and for our understanding of policy feedback, political parties and interest groups, and the bureaucracy.


Political Effects on Pension Underfunding

Erick Elder & Gary Wagner
Economics & Politics, March 2015, Pages 1–27

Pension underfunding in the public sector has received considerable attention recently and is often cited as the next looming crisis. The majority of recent research has focused on appropriately measuring the underfunding. In this paper, we employ a political economy framework to show that increases in partisan polarization and electoral uncertainty lead to greater underfunding. Using an unbalanced panel of individual pension plans, we find robust empirical evidence that higher legislative turnover rates, more electoral competition, and term limits all lead to more pension underfunding. The political environments of state and local governments play a pivotal role in pension underfunding.


News, Politics, and Negativity

Stuart Soroka & Stephen McAdams
Political Communication, Winter 2015, Pages 1-22

Work in political communication has discussed the ongoing predominance of negative news, but has offered few convincing accounts for this focus. A growing body of literature shows that humans regularly pay more attention to negative information than to positive information, however. This article argues that we should view the nature of news content in part as a consequence of this asymmetry bias observed in human behavior. A psychophysiological experiment capturing viewers’ reactions to actual news content shows that negative news elicits stronger and more sustained reactions than does positive news. Results are discussed as they pertain to political behavior and communication, and to politics and political institutions more generally.


Electoral Institutions and Electoral Cycles in Economic Development: A Field Experiment of Over 3,000 US Municipalities

Nathan Jensen, Michael Findley & Daniel Nielson
George Washington University Working Paper, January 2015

The central importance of economic growth and job creation for incumbent politics leads to considerable efforts for national and local economic development. We argue that the proliferation of economic development policies that provide financial incentives to individual firms provides a window into understanding how political factors shape these economic development policies. We specifically explore how political institutions and electoral cycles affect the allocation of incentives targeted to individual firms. We designed a field experiment in which we approached more than 3,000 U.S. cities on behalf of a real investor interested in relocating. We present observational and experimental evidence showing that cities with direct elections (as opposed to appointed leaders) are dramatically more likely to offer more and bigger incentives than cities without direct elections. Contrary to our expectations, we do not find evidence of the greater use of incentives prior to elections, a result that we can be fairly confident is null, although we do find that directly elected mayors (as opposed to appointed executives) are more likely to utilize incentives. We thus conclude that elected officials use economic incentives for political gain and that political institutions shape this behavior, but the precise timing for offering incentives is not important.


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