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POLITICAL SCIENCE RESEARCH - MAY 2010

From Political Behavior

 

The Role of Media Distrust in Partisan Voting

Jonathan McDonald Ladd

May 2010

 

ABSTRACT  

As an institution, the American news media have become highly unpopular in recent decades. Yet, we do not thoroughly understand the consequences of this unpopularity for mass political behavior. While several existing studies find that media trust moderates media effects, they do not examine the consequences of this for voting. This paper explores those consequences by analyzing voting behavior in the 2004 presidential election. It finds, consistent with most theories of persuasion and with studies of media effects in other contexts, that media distrust leads voters to discount campaign news and increasingly rely on their partisan predispositions as cues. This suggests that increasing aggregate levels of media distrust are an important source of greater partisan voting.

The Enduring Effects of Social Pressure: Tracking Campaign Experiments Over a Series of Elections

Tiffany C. Davenport, Alan S. Gerber, Donald P. Green, Christopher W. Larimer, Christopher B. Mann and Costas Panagopoulos

May 2010

ABSTRACT  

Recent field experiments have demonstrated the powerful effect of social pressure messages on voter turnout. This research note considers the question of whether these interventions' effects persist over a series of subsequent elections. Tracking more than one million voters from six experimental studies, we find strong and statistically significant enduring effects one and sometimes two years after the initial communication

Considering Mixed Mode Surveys for Questions in Political Behavior: Using the Internet and Mail to Get Quality Data at Reasonable Costs

Lonna Rae Atkeson, Alex N. Adams, Lisa A. Bryant, Luciana Zilberman and Kyle L. Saunders

May 2010

ABSTRACT  

Telephone surveys have been a principle means of learning about the attitudes and behaviors of citizens and voters. The single mode telephone survey, however, is increasingly threatened by rising costs, the declining use of landline telephones, and declining participation rates. One solution to these problems has been the introduction of mixed-mode surveys. However, such designs are relatively new and questions about their representativeness and the intricacies of the methodology remain. We report on the representativeness of a post election mixed-mode (Internet and mail) survey design of 2006 general election voters. We compare sample respondent means to sample frame means on key demographic characteristics and examine how mail and Internet respondents differed in terms of attitudes, behaviors and demographics. We find that overall the Internet respondents were representative of the population and that respondent choice of mode did not influence item response. We conclude that mixed-mode designs may allow researchers to ask important questions about political behavior from their desktops.

Timing Is Everything? Primacy and Recency Effects in Voter Mobilization Campaigns

Costas Panagopoulos

May 2010

ABSTRACT  

The timing of message delivery in political campaigns is a key component of strategy. Yet studies that examine the impact of message timing on political behavior are surprisingly rare. Although one recent study finds that appeals delivered closer to Election Day will be most effective (Nickerson, American Journal of Political Science 51(2):269-282, 2007), methodological considerations render this conclusion tentative and suggest the impact of message timing remains an open question. In this paper I report the results of a randomized field experiment designed to compare the mobilization effects of nonpartisan messages delivered via commercial phone banks at different points during a campaign cycle. The results of the experiment, conducted during the November 2005 municipal elections in Rochester, New York, suggest calls delivered early on during a campaign cycle can also be effective.

Explicit Evidence on the Import of Implicit Attitudes: The IAT and Immigration Policy Judgments

Efrén O. Pérez

May 2010

ABSTRACT

The implicit association test (IAT) is increasingly used to detect automatic attitudes. Yet a fundamental question remains about this measure: How well can it predict individual judgments? Though studies find that IAT scores shape individual evaluations, these inquiries do not account for an array of well-validated, theoretically relevant variables, thus raising the challenge of omitted variable bias. For scholars using the IAT, the risk here is one of misattributing to implicit attitudes what can be better explained by alternate and rigorous self-reports of explicit constructs. This paper examines the IAT's performance in the context of U.S. immigration politics. Using a representative web survey of adults, I demonstrate the IAT effectively captures implicit attitude toward Latino immigrants. Critically, I then show these attitudes substantively mold individual preferences for illegal and legal immigration policy, net of political ideology, socio-economic concerns, and well-established measures of intolerance toward immigrants, such as authoritarianism and ethnocentrism. Combined, these results suggest the IAT measures attitudes that are non-redundant and potent predictors of individual political judgments.

 

From Political Psychology

 

Basic Personal Values, Core Political Values, and Voting: A Longitudinal Analysis

Shalom H. Schwartz, Gian Vittorio Caprara and Michele Vecchione

May 2010

ABSTRACT

We theorize that political values express basic personal values in the domain of politics. We test a set of hypotheses that specify how the motivational structure of basic values constrains and gives coherence to core political values. We also test the hypothesis that core political values mediate relations of basic personal values to voting demonstrated in previous research. We measured the basic personal values, core political values, and vote of Italian adults both before (n = 1699) and after (n = 1030) the 2006 national election. Basic values explained substantial variance in each of eight political values (22% to 53%) and predicted voting significantly. Correlations and an MDS projection of relations among basic values and political values supported the hypothesized coherent structuring of core political values by basic values. Core political values fully mediated relations of basic values to voting, supporting a basic values--political values--voting causal hierarchy.


Legitimizing the "War on Terror": Political Myth in Official-Level Rhetoric

Joanne Esch

May 2010

ABSTRACT

This paper argues that mythical discourse affects political practice by imbuing language with power, shaping what people consider to be legitimate, and driving the determination to act. Drawing on Bottici's (2007) philosophical understanding of political myth as a process of work on a common narrative that answers the human need to ground events in significance, it contributes to the study of legitimization in political discourse by examining the role of political myth in official-level U.S. war rhetoric. It explores how two ubiquitous yet largely invisible political myths, American Exceptionalism and Civilization vs. Barbarism, which have long defined America's ideal image of itself and its place in the world, have become staples in the language of the "War on Terror." Through a qualitative analysis of the content of over 50 official texts containing lexical triggers of the two myths, this paper shows that senior officials of the Bush Administration have rhetorically accessed these mythical representations of the world in ways that legitimize and normalize the practices of the "War on Terror."


Authoritarianism, Social Dominance, and Other Roots of Generalized Prejudice

Sam McFarland

May 2010

ABSTRACT

The search for the personological roots of generalized prejudice (or ethnocentrism) began with the authoritarian personality, but in recent years, the twin constructs of right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation have been widely treated as the dual processes that lead to generalized prejudice. However, studies conducted for this article show that other constructs, notably empathy and principled moral reasoning, contribute important additional variance. Whereas authoritarianism and social dominance positively predict generalized prejudice, empathy and principled moral reasoning are related negatively to it. For the final study, a structural model of these relationships was tested. To fully understand individual differences in the propensity for generalized prejudice, it is necessary to move beyond the dual processes union of authoritarianism and social dominance.

 

From American Political Science Review

 

Electoral Markets, Party Strategies, and Proportional Representation

Carles Boix

May 2010

ABSTRACT

Following Kreuzer's (2010) methodological pleas, I first reflect, at the conceptual level, on the ways in which historical research and political science should be related to each other. I then apply some of those considerations to examine two key "moments" in the theory (and history) of institutional choice that I first presented in Boix (1999): the underlying conditions that shaped the interests of different parties toward proportional representation, and the process through which those interests were translated into actual legislative decisions.

Activists and Conflict Extension in American Party Politics

Geoffrey C. Layman, Thomas M. Carsey, John C. Green, Richard Herrera and Rosalyn Cooperman

May 2010

ABSTRACT

Party activists have played a leading role in "conflict extension"--the polarization of the parties along multiple issue dimensions--in contemporary American politics. We argue that open nomination systems and the ambitious politicians competing within those systems encourage activists with extreme views on a variety of issue dimensions to become involved in party politics, thus motivating candidates to take noncentrist positions on a range of issues. Once that happens, continuing activists with strong partisan commitments bring their views into line with the new candidate agendas, thus extending the domain of interparty conflict. Using cross-sectional and panel surveys of national convention delegates, we find clear evidence for conflict extension among party activists, evidence tentatively suggesting a leading role for activists in partisan conflict extension more generally, and strong support for our argument about change among continuing activists. Issue conversion among activists has contributed substantially to conflict extension and party commitment has played a key role in motivating that conversion.

Estimating the Electoral Effects of Voter Turnout

Thomas G. Hansford and Brad T. Gomez

May 2010

ABSTRACT

This article examines the electoral consequences of variation in voter turnout in the United States. Existing scholarship focuses on the claim that high turnout benefits Democrats, but evidence supporting this conjecture is variable and controversial. Previous work, however, does not account for endogeneity between turnout and electoral choice, and thus, causal claims are questionable. Using election day rainfall as an instrumental variable for voter turnout, we are able to estimate the effect of variation in turnout due to across-the-board changes in the utility of voting. We re-examine the Partisan Effects and Two-Effects Hypotheses, provide an empirical test of an Anti-Incumbent Hypothesis, and propose a Volatility Hypothesis, which posits that high turnout produces less predictable electoral outcomes. Using county-level data from the 1948-2000 presidential elections, we find support for each hypothesis. Failing to address the endogeneity problem would lead researchers to incorrectly reject all but the Anti-Incumbent Hypothesis. The effect of variation in turnout on electoral outcomes appears quite meaningful. Although election-specific factors other than turnout have the greatest influence on who wins an election, variation in turnout significantly affects vote shares at the county, national, and Electoral College levels.

 

From Electoral Studies

 

The 2009 Mexican Midterm Congressional Elections

Joseph L. Klesner

May 2010.

ABSTRACT

In Mexico's 5 July 2009 midterm congressional elections the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) made significant gains in the lower house of the Mexican federal congress and in state and local elections held the same day. In addition, a high percentage of voters cast deliberately nullified votes to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with existing choices among the parties. The elections were a setback for President Felipe Calderon of the National Action Party.

Resource spending over time in competitions for electoral support

Alex Coram

May 2010

ABSTRACT

So far we have little by way of a theoretical understanding of the dynamics of electoral competition. This paper attempts to fill some of this gap by studying resource expenditure over the electoral cycle. Among the main results is that, when contributions are independent of support parties accelerate expenditure during the entire period between elections, even when voters do not forget. If contributions depend on support, and are significant, parties front load expenditure and decelerate.