Winners write history

Kevin Lewis

December 20, 2019

Global Racist Contagion Following Donald Trump's Election
Marco Giani & Pierre-Guillaume Méon
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming


Exploiting the coincidence between the timing of U.S. presidential elections and the fieldwork period of the European Social Survey, we show that Donald Trump's win significantly increased self-reported racial bias in policy attitudes outside the U.S. We document that the opposite occurred following Barack Obama's first election in 2008, while no effect occurred when he or George W. Bush were reelected in 2012 and 2004. We show that the increase in self-reported racial bias is not driven by welfare-related immigration concerns, campaign effects, or bandwagon effects, suggesting a decrease in the social desirability of racial equality.

Did Trump's Trade War Impact the 2018 Election?
Emily Blanchard, Chad Bown & Davin Chor
NBER Working Paper, November 2019


We find that Republican candidates lost support in the 2018 congressional election in counties more exposed to trade retaliation, but saw no commensurate electoral gains from US tariff protection. The electoral losses were driven by retaliatory tariffs on agricultural products, and were only partially mitigated by the US agricultural subsidies announced in summer 2018. Republicans also fared worse in counties that had seen recent gains in health insurance coverage, affirming the importance of health care as an election issue. A counterfactual calculation suggests that the trade war (respectively, health care) can account for five (eight) of Republicans' lost House seats.

Voter Identification and Nonvoting in Wisconsin — Evidence from the 2016 Election
Michael DeCrescenzo & Kenneth Mayer
Election Law Journal, forthcoming


How much did Wisconsin's voter identification requirement matter in 2016? We conducted a survey of registered nonvoters in the counties surrounding the cities of Milwaukee and Madison to estimate the number of registrants who experienced ID-related voting difficulties in the 2016 presidential election. We estimate that 10 percent of nonvoters in these counties lack a qualifying voter ID or report that voter ID was at least a partial reason why they did not vote in 2016, and six percent of nonvoters lacked a voter ID or cited voter ID as their primary reason for not voting. Theoretically, we argue that voter ID requirements “directly” affect voters who lack qualifying IDs but also “indirectly” affect voters who are confused about their compliance with the law. We find evidence of such confusion, with many respondents mistakenly believing that they did not have the necessary ID to vote when they actually did. Our analysis permits us to calculate bounds on the possible turnout effect in 2016. Most of our credible estimates suggest that the voter ID requirement reduced turnout in these counties by up to one percentage point.

Racial Disparities in Voting Wait Times: Evidence from Smartphone Data
Keith Chen et al.
NBER Working Paper, November 2019


Equal access to voting is a core feature of democratic government. Using data from millions of smartphone users, we quantify a racial disparity in voting wait times across a nationwide sample of polling places during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Relative to entirely-white neighborhoods, residents of entirely-black neighborhoods waited 29% longer to vote and were 74% more likely to spend more than 30 minutes at their polling place. This disparity holds when comparing predominantly white and black polling places within the same states and counties, and survives numerous robustness and placebo tests. We shed light on the mechanism for these results and discuss how geospatial data can be an effective tool to both measure and monitor these disparities going forward.

Restoring Faith in American Democracy: The Effect of Women Candidates on Adolescents' Evaluations of Politics in 2018
Christina Wolbrecht & David Campbell
University of Notre Dame Working Paper, August 2019


In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, Democratic-leaning adolescents (both girls and boys) became more skeptical of democracy. In 2018, however, Democratic girls’ confidence in democracy rebounded, while that of Democratic boys continued to decline. Why did they diverge? In this paper, we employ a unique three-wave panel study of adolescents and their parents, to test whether Democratic girls became more positive toward democracy if they lived in places where Democratic women ran for high-profile political office. They did. The same is also true of Democratic boys and Republican girls but to a much lesser extent; Republican boys, on the other hand, actually became slightly less likely to see American democracy as responsive. These results suggest that descriptive representation can foster a more positive perception of democracy, especially among underrepresented groups. But those who are politically advantaged appear unaffected.

How to Measure Legislative District Compactness If You Only Know It When You See It
Aaron Kaufman, Gary King & Mayya Komisarchik
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming


To deter gerrymandering, many state constitutions require legislative districts to be "compact." Yet, the law offers few precise definitions other than "you know it when you see it," which effectively implies a common understanding of the concept. In contrast, academics have shown that compactness has multiple dimensions and have generated many conflicting measures. We hypothesize that both are correct -- that compactness is complex and multidimensional, but a common understanding exists across people. We develop a survey to elicit this understanding, with high reliability (in data where the standard paired comparisons approach fails). We create a statistical model that predicts, with high accuracy, solely from the geometric features of the district, compactness evaluations by judges and public officials responsible for redistricting, among others. We also offer compactness data from our validated measure for 20,160 state legislative and congressional districts, as well as software to compute this measure from any district.

Information, Political Bias, and Public Perceptions of Local Conditions in U.S. Cities
Thomas Holbrook & Aaron Weinschenk
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming


Using two unique surveys, one that includes over 6,000 respondents interviewed across 39 cities and another that includes over 47,000 respondents interviewed across 26 U.S. cities, we investigate the extent to which perceptions of local conditions — the state of the local economy, the quality of local schools, and local crime — reflect actual local conditions. We examine individual-level differences in the accuracy of perceptions of local conditions using two different frameworks, one that emphasizes factors that limit information acquisition and may exacerbate political inequalities, and another that emphasizes motivations for information processing. Objective conditions influence perceptions of conditions, but the relationship between objective and perceived local conditions is strongest among individuals with high levels of education and preexisting knowledge. In addition, we find that partisanship plays a role in shaping perceptions of local conditions. While the partisan match between a respondent and the mayor of their city has little effect on local perceptions, the match between a respondent’s partisanship and the president’s party has a strong effect on perceptions of the local economy.

Influences of source bias that differ from source untrustworthiness: When flip-flopping is more and less surprising
Laura Wallace, Duane Wegener & Richard Petty
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming


Discussions of the difference between biased and fake news were prevalent after the 2016 United States Presidential election. However, within social psychology, and especially the psychology of persuasion, perceptions of source bias have been largely overlooked or conflated with untrustworthiness. In the current work, we sought to demonstrate that bias and untrustworthiness can have differing effects. One such situation is when persuasive sources originally take one position but switch to a different position (flip-flopping). We find that people expect biased versus objective sources to consistently maintain their position. Conversely, people do not have these expectations for untrustworthy versus trustworthy sources. When sources unexpectedly switch positions, people can infer that they must have switched because of strong evidence in support of the new position. As a result, taking an unexpected position can lead a source to be more persuasive. This package includes a final study with a preregistered analysis plan that uses latent variable modeling, as well as an integrative data analysis across all data we have to test these hypotheses. Ultimately, this work suggests that bias and untrustworthiness can have differing indirect influences on persuasion when sources switch positions, highlighting the need to conceptually separate bias and untrustworthiness and examine their individual effects. These persuasive effects function as an illustrative example of differing influences of bias and untrustworthiness, but we expect this distinction to have theoretical implications across domains of social psychology and practical applications for media producers and consumers.

The long-term impact of the location of concentration camps on radical-right voting in Germany
Julian Hoerner, Alexander Jaax & Toni Rodon
Research & Politics, December 2019


Of all atrocities committed by state actors in 20th century Europe, the systematic killings by Nazi Germany were arguably the most severe and best documented. While several studies have investigated the impact of the presence of concentration camps on surrounding communities in Germany and the occupied territories in terms of redistribution of wealth and property, the local-level impact on voting behaviour has not yet been explored. We investigated the impact of spatial proximity to a concentration camp between 1933 and 1945 on the likelihood of voting for far-right parties in the 2013 and 2017 federal elections. We find that proximity to a former concentration camp is associated with a higher vote share of such parties. A potential explanation for this finding could be a ‘memory satiation effect’, according to which voters who live in close proximity to former camps and are more frequently confronted with the past are more receptive to revisionist historical accounts questioning the centrality of the Holocaust in the German culture of remembrance.

Predicted and remembered emotion: Tomorrow’s vividness trumps yesterday’s accuracy
Linda Levine et al.
Memory, forthcoming


People rely on predicted and remembered emotion to guide important decisions. But how much can they trust their mental representations of emotion to be accurate, and how much do they trust them? In this investigation, participants (N = 957) reported their predicted, experienced, and remembered emotional response to the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. They also reported how accurate and vivid they perceived their predictions and memories to be, and the importance of the election. Participants remembered their emotional responses more accurately than they predicted them. But, strikingly, they perceived their predictions to be more accurate than their memories. This perception was explained by the greater importance and vividness of anticipated versus remembered experience. We also assessed whether individuals with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory for personal and public events (N = 33) showed superior ability to predict or remember their emotional responses to events. They did not and, even for this group, predicting emotion was a more intense experience than remembering emotion. These findings reveal asymmetries in the phenomenological experience of predicting and remembering emotion. The vividness of predicted emotion serves as a powerful subjective signal of accuracy even when predictions turn out to be wrong.

Choosing the Less Convenient Way to Vote: An Anomaly in Vote by Mail Elections
Andrew Menger & Robert Stein
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming


Nearly two-thirds of persons who receive an unsolicited ballot in the mail before Election Day choose to return their ballot in person, rather than through the less costly and more convenient U.S. Postal Service. Why? How and when voters choose to return their mail ballot is consequential to the administration of elections and the confidence voters have in the outcome of elections. We offer and test four explanations for how vote by mail voters choose to return their ballot, including the social rewards of voting, the costs of voting, trust in U.S. Postal Service and a preference to cast a ballot after campaigning ends. We find supporting evidence for each explanation conditioned by prior history of voting.


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