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POLITICAL SCIENCE RESEARCH ABSTRACTS - JANUARY 2011

From American Journal of Political Science

The Party Faithful: Partisan Images, Candidate Religion, and the Electoral Impact of Party Identification

David E. Campbell, John C. Green, Geoffrey . Layman

We argue that the factors shaping the impact of partisanship on vote choice--"partisan voting"--depend on the nature of party identification. Because party identification is partly based on images of the social group characteristics of the parties, the social profiles of political candidates should affect levels of partisan voting. A candidate's religious affiliation enables a test of this hypothesis. Using survey experiments which vary a hypothetical candidate's religious affiliation, we find strong evidence that candidates' religions can affect partisan voting. Identifying a candidate as an evangelical (a group viewed as Republican) increases Republican support for, and Democratic opposition to, the candidate, while identifying the candidate as a Catholic (a group lacking a clear partisan profile) has no bearing on partisan voting. Importantly, the conditional effect of candidate religion on partisan voting requires the group to have a salient partisan image and holds with controls for respondents' own religious affiliations and ideologies.


Gendered Perceptions and Political Candidacies: A Central Barrier to Women's Equality in Electoral Politics

Richard L. Fox, Jennifer L. Lawless

Based on the second wave of the Citizen Political Ambition Panel Study, we provide the first thorough analysis of how gender affects women and men's efficacy to run for office. Our findings reveal that, despite comparable credentials, backgrounds, and experiences, accomplished women are substantially less likely than similarly situated men to perceive themselves as qualified to seek office. Importantly, women and men rely on the same factors when evaluating themselves as candidates, but women are less likely than men to believe they meet these criteria. Not only are women more likely than men to doubt that they have skills and traits necessary for electoral politics, but they are also more likely to doubt their abilities to engage in campaign mechanics. These findings are critical because the perceptual differences we uncover account for much of the gender gap in potential candidates' self-efficacy and ultimately hinder women's prospects for political equality.


How Public Opinion Constrains the U.S. Supreme Court

Christopher J. Casillas, Peter K. Enns, Patrick C. Wohlfarth

Although scholars increasingly acknowledge a contemporaneous relationship between public opinion and Supreme Court decisions, debate continues as to why this relationship exists. Does public opinion directly influence decisions or do justices simply respond to the same social forces that simultaneously shape the public mood? To answer this question, we first develop a strategy to control for the justices' attitudinal change that stems from the social forces that influence public opinion. We then propose a theoretical argument that predicts strategic justices should be mindful of public opinion even in cases when the public is unlikely to be aware of the Court's activities. The results suggest that the influence of public opinion on Supreme Court decisions is real, substantively important, and most pronounced in nonsalient cases.

From British Journal of Political Science

Research Article

Downs, Stokes and the Dynamics of Electoral Choice
David Sanders, Harold D. Clarke, Marianne C. Stewart and Paul Whiteley

January 2011

ABSTRACT

six-wave 2005-09 national panel survey conducted in conjunction with the British Election Study provided data for an investigation of sources of stability and change in voters' party preferences. The authors test competing spatial and valence theories of party choice and investigate the hypothesis that spatial calculations provide cues for making valence judgements. Analyses reveal that valence mechanisms - heuristics based on party leader images, party performance evaluations and mutable partisan attachments - outperform a spatial model in terms of strength of direct effects on party choice. However, spatial effects still have sizeable indirect effects on the vote via their influence on valence judgements. The results of exogeneity tests bolster claims about the flow of influence from spatial calculations to valence judgments to electoral choice.


'The Arithmetic of Compassion': Rethinking the Politics of Photography

James Johnson

January 2011

ABSTRACT

Compassion, theorists from Arendt to Nussbaum suggest, carries an ineluctable pressure to identify with individual suffering. The very idea of a politics of compassion verges on incoherence. Politics typically demands attention to the aggregate and it is just there that compassion falters. This is a problem for critics addressing the politics of photography, who typically presume that the point of photographs must be to elicit compassion among viewers. But a proper understanding of compassion makes this presumption highly problematic. The role of compassion in exemplary writings on the politics of photography reflects a fixation with 'emblematic' individual subjects in 'classic' American documentary practice, which prevents critics from properly grasping the best of contemporary documentary. The conclusion is that promoting solidarity provides a more plausible, if elusive, aim for the politics of photography.


National Debates, Local Responses: The Origins of Local Concern about Immigration in Britain and the United States

Daniel J. Hopkins

January 2011

ABSTRACT

Theories of inter-group threat hold that local concentrations of immigrants produce resource competition and anti-immigrant attitudes. Variants of these theories are commonly applied to Britain and the United States. Yet the empirical tests have been inconsistent. This paper analyses geo-coded surveys from both countries to identify when residents' attitudes are influenced by living near immigrant communities. Pew surveys from the United States and the 2005 British Election Study illustrate how local contextual effects hinge on national politics. Contextual effects appear primarily when immigration is a nationally salient issue, which explains why past research has not always found a threat. Seemingly local disputes have national catalysts. The paper also demonstrates how panel data can reduce selection biases that plague research on local contextual effects


From Electoral Studies


Uncovering the Micro-foundations of Turnout and Electoral Systems

Tse-hsin Chen

January 2011

ABSTRACT

This paper tackles the micro-foundations of voting and addresses why proportional representation systems (PR) are associated with higher turnout than majoritarian systems (SMD). I argue that individual evaluations of the differential benefit in the calculus of voting are affected by spatial party competition framed by electoral institutions. Unlike PR, SMD constrains the number of parties and creates large centripetal forces for party competition, which reduces the perceived benefits of voting. A citizen's voting propensity is related to the distance between her preferred policy position and those of her most- and least-favored parties. I use multilevel modeling to analyze individual voting decisions structured by aggregate variables across 64 elections. The empirical findings confirm the argument and the mechanism holds both in established and non-established democracies.


From The Journal of Politics


When Candidates Value Good Character: A Spatial Model with Applications to Congressional Elections

James Adams, Samuel Merrill III, Elizabeth N. Simas and Walter J. Stone

January 2011

ABSTRACT

We add to the literature that examines the relationship between candidate valence and policy strategies by arguing that candidates intrinsically value both the policies and the personal character of the winning candidate. In making this argument, we distinguish between two dimensions of candidate valence: strategic valence refers to factors such as name recognition, fundraising ability, and campaigning skills, while character valence is composed of qualities that voters and candidates intrinsically value in office holders, including integrity, competence, and diligence. Our model considers challengers who value both the policies and the character-based valence of the incumbent and assumes that the incumbent's policy position is fixed by prior commitments. Under these conditions, we show that challengers who are superior to the incumbent in their character-based valence have incentives to moderate their policy positions. We report empirical tests of this good-government result of our model, using data on the 2006 congressional elections.


The Role of Candidate Traits in Campaigns

Kim L. Fridkin and Patrick J. Kenney

January 2011

ABSTRACT

We examine how candidates shape citizens' impressions of their personal traits during U.S. Senate campaigns. We look at the personality traits emphasized by candidates in their controlled communications and in news coverage of their campaigns. We couple information about campaign messages with a unique survey dataset allowing us to examine voters' understanding and evaluations of the candidates' personalities. We find that messages from the news media influence people's willingness to rate the candidates on trait dimensions. In addition, negative trait messages emanating from challengers and the press shape citizens' impressions of incumbents. In contrast, voters' evaluations of challengers are unmoved by campaign messages, irrespective of the source or tone of the communications. Finally, we find citizens rely heavily on traits when evaluating competing candidates in U.S. Senate campaigns, even controlling for voters' party, ideological, and issue preferences.


Do Women and Men Know Different Things? Measuring Gender Differences in Political Knowledge

Kathleen Dolan

January 2010

ABSTRACT

That women exhibit lower levels of political knowledge than men is a common and consistent finding in political science research. Recently, scholars have begun examining whether the content and structure of political knowledge measures contribute to women's perceived knowledge deficit. In an attempt to enter the debate on the explanations for gender differences in knowledge, I create and test a number of measures of gender-relevant political knowledge to determine whether broadening our definitions of what constitutes "knowledge" may help us more clearly understand the apparent gender gap in political knowledge in the United States. The results indicate that expected gender differences disappear when respondents are asked about the levels of women's representation in the national government.


The Persuasive Effects of Direct Mail: A Regression Discontinuity Based Approach

Alan S. Gerber, Daniel P. Kessler and Marc Meredith

January 2011

ABSTRACT

During the contest for Kansas attorney general in 2006, an organization sent out six pieces of mail criticizing the incumbent's conduct in office. We exploit a discontinuity in the rule used to select which households received the mailings to identify the causal effect of mail on vote choice and voter turnout. We find these mailings had a politically significant effect on the challenger's vote share, which is statistically significant in most, but not all, of our specifications. Our point estimates suggest that a 10 percentage point increase in the amount of mail sent to a precinct increased the challenger's vote share by 1.5 to 3.5 percentage points. Furthermore, our results suggest that these mailings had little mobilizing effect, suggesting that the mechanism for this increase was persuasion.


Election Night's Alright for Fighting: The Role of Emotions in Political Participation

Nicholas A. Valentino, Ted Brader, Eric W. Groenendyk, Krysha Gregorowicz and
Vincent L. Hutchings

January 2011

ABSTRACT

A large literature has established a persistent association between the skills and resources citizens possess and their likelihood of participating in politics. However, the short-term motivational forces that cause citizens to employ those skills and expend resources in one election but not the next have only recently received attention. Findings in political psychology suggest specific emotions may play an important role in mobilization, but the question of "which emotions play what role?" remains an important area of debate. Drawing on cognitive appraisal theory and the Affective Intelligence model, we predict that anger, more than anxiety or enthusiasm, will mobilize. We find evidence for the distinctive influence of anger in a randomized experiment, a national survey of the 2008 electorate, and in pooled American National Election Studies from 1980 to 2004.


The Long-Term Dynamics of Partisanship and Issue Orientations

Benjamin Highton and Cindy D. Kam

January 2011

ABSTRACT

Partisanship and issue orientations are among the foundational concepts for behavioral researchers. We seek to understand their causal relationship. One view suggests that party identification, as a central and long-standing affective orientation, influences citizens' issue positions. Another view claims that issue orientations influence party identification. We take both theories into account in this article and argue that the direction of causality may depend upon the political context. Using the Political Socialization Panel Study, we analyze the long-term dynamic relationship between partisanship and issue orientations. The results from our cross-lagged structural equation models are inconsistent with a single, time-invariant, unidirectional causal story. The causal relationship between partisanship and issue orientations appears to depend upon the larger political context. In the early period from 1973 to 1982, partisanship causes issue orientations. In the later period, from 1982 to 1997, the causal arrow is reversed, and issue orientations significantly shape partisanship.


A Genome-Wide Analysis of Liberal and Conservative Political Attitudes

Peter K. Hatemi, Nathan A. Gillespie, Lindon J. Eaves, Brion S. Maher, Bradley T. Webb, Andrew C. Heath, Sarah E. Medland, David C. Smyth, Harry N. Beeby, Scott D. Gordon, Grant W. Montgomery, Ghu Zhu, Enda M. Byrne and Nicholas G. Martin

January 2011

ABSTRACT

The assumption that the transmission of social behaviors and political preferences is purely cultural has been challenged repeatedly over the last 40 years by the combined evidence of large studies of adult twins and their relatives, adoption studies, and twins reared apart. Variance components and path modeling analyses using data from extended families quantified the overall genetic influence on political attitudes, but few studies have attempted to localize the parts of the genome which accounted for the heritability estimates found for political preferences. Here, we present the first genome-wide analysis of Conservative-Liberal attitudes from a sample of 13,000 respondents whose DNA was collected in conjunction with a 50-item sociopolitical attitude questionnaire. Several significant linkage peaks were identified and potential candidate genes discussed.


From PS: Political Science & Politics


Postmortems of the 2010 Midterm Election Forecasts: The Predicted Midterm Landslide

James E. Campbell

January 2011

ABSTRACT

The "Seats in Trouble" forecasting model predicted in mid-August that Republicans would gain a landslide number of seats in the 2010 elections to the U.S. House of Representatives, and that this number would be sufficiently large to restore their majority control of the House, which was lost in the 2006 midterms. Republicans were predicted to gain approximately 51 or 52 seats, about the magnitude of their 1994 midterm victory and the largest seat change since the Truman-Dewey election of 1948. As predicted, on Election Day, Republicans won a landslide number of seats, enough to give them a substantial House majority.


Postmortems of the 2010 Midterm Election Forecasts: Forecasting House Seats from Generic Congressional Polls: A Post-Mortem

Joseph Bafumi, Robert S. Erikson and Christopher Wlezien

January 2011

ABSTRACT

Based on information available in July, we predicted that the Republicans would receive 52.9% of the total House vote and end up holding 229 seats, gaining control from the Democrats in the process (Bafumi, Erikson, and Wlezien 2010b). Our national vote forecast proved to be nearly correct, undershooting the actual Republican share (53.8%) by slightly less than one percentage point. Our seat forecast was a little less accurate. Although we did foresee the House changing hands, we did not predict such a large Republican windfall in seats--we forecast a "mere" swing of 50 seats, which was short of the actual outcome by about 13 seats. The Republican seat total of 242, however, was well within the 95% confidence interval (199 to 259).


Postmortems of the 2010 Midterm Election Forecasts: Congressional Forecasts: Theory Versus Tracking in 2010

Michael S. Lewis-Becka1 and Charles Tien

January 2011

ABSTRACT

In our recent article forecasting the 2010 U.S. congressional elections, we argue for a model based on theory rather than tracking (Lewis-Beck and Tien 2010). A sound theoretical explanation of vote choice in House races should, ceteris paribus, predict better than a simple dependence on variables that proxy the vote, such as the generic ballot question. We posited a simple but classical explanation of the 2010 House vote--the referendum model--in which voters punish or reward the party in power according to its performance in office and the time available for that performance. In words, the model reads: House Seat Change = f(Economy, Popularity, Midterm). A measurement of these variables, at lags appropriate for forecasting, yields the estimates (OLS) of model 1, shown in column 1 of table 1. Model 1 gives a forecast of −22 seats for the Democrats in 2010, when, in fact, they scored about −60 seats. The model 1 forecast appears "wrong" in two senses. First, substantively, it fails to predict the Republican takeover of the House. Second, scientifically, it is off by over two standard errors of estimate (i.e., 38/17 > 2.0). Why did the model get it wrong this time, when the forecast was off by only one seat in the last midterm in 2006? To answer this question, the specifications of the model need consideration. Such consideration signals the scientific value of the forecasting exercise in providing a systematic trial-and-error method for model improvement.


Postmortems of the 2010 Midterm Election Forecasts: Assessing The 2010 State Legislative Election Forecasting Models

Carl Klarner

January 2011

ABSTRACT

This brief note reports the accuracy of my two forecasts for the 2010 state legislative elections, one made on July 22 and reported in the October 2010 issue of this journal (the "PS model"; Klarner 2010a), and the other made on September 18 and reported in the October issue of Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics (i.e., the "Forum model"; Klarner 2010b). Both models used presidential approval, the state of the economy, and midterm loss as national-level predictor variables, while the later forecast also used Gallup's generic ballot question asking respondents which party they would vote for in the upcoming U.S. House election. The PS model predicted the Republicans would pick up 11 chambers, while the Forum model forecast a 15-chamber pickup. In actuality, the Republicans picked up 21 chambers, in contrast to the average 3.2-net chamber shift in party control toward one party or the other from 1962 to 2008. While both forecasts understated the extent of the Republican wave, the July forecast especially did. Overall, the Forum forecast did a good job of predicting the Republican wave, calling about three-fourths of its magnitude.


Partisan Vision Biases Determination of Voter Intent

Peter A. Ubel and Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher

January 2011

ABSTRACT

In close, disputed elections, outcomes can depend on determinations of voter intent for ballots that have been filled out improperly. We surveyed 899 adult Minnesotans during a time when the state's U.S. Senate election was still disputed and presented them with ambiguous ballots similar to ballots under dispute in the same election. We randomized participants to three experimental groups, across which we varied the names on the ballot. We found that participants' judgments of voter intent were strongly biased by their voting preferences (p < .002 in all four ballots).


From Political Behavior


Mobilizing Collective Identity: Frames & Rational Individuals

Christy Aroopala

January 2011

ABSTRACT

Mobilization of collective identities is a common tool in election campaigns and policy debates. Frames that target group identity can mobilize groups; however it is unclear when these group frames are likely to be successful. This project explores whether moderators, or factors that limit framing effects, can help predict whether individuals will respond to group mobilization attempts. Drawing on the rational choice approach, I assess whether the presence of thresholds (i.e. rules that determines how far the group is from attaining its goal) works as a moderator of framing effects. Using a voting game laboratory experiment, I analyze the impact of group frames when distance from a fixed threshold varies and when we account for differences in group identity strength. The findings indicate that the interaction of group identity strength, group frames, and moderators of frames has an important impact on participation, suggesting that environmental factors play a significant role in group mobilization.