Category Archives: Elections

Remotivating the Black Vote: The Effect of Low-Quality Information on Black Voters in the 2016 Presidential Election and How Librarians Can Intervene

Source: Andrew P. Jackson (Sekou Molefi Baako), Denyvetta Davis, and Jason Kelly Alston, The Library Quarterly, Vol. 87 no. 3, July 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In a phenomenon that was surprising to many, given the racially charged nature of the 2016 presidential election, black voter turnout was significantly lower than the previous two elections. Donald Trump’s victory is attributable to many factors, one of which was the lower participation of black voters in several swing states. To a lesser extent, black support for third-party candidates also aided Trump’s victory. The lower black turnout itself is attributable to several factors, but one factor specifically in the LIS realm was the prevalence of low-quality information and rhetoric and a susceptibility that some black voters had to this low-quality information and rhetoric. Librarians have a stake and a role in black voter participation. This article will present two specific tactics and other general methods for how librarians can better inform black voters and help motivate them to participate in the process.

Swing Left

Source: Swing Left, 2017

Swing Districts are places where the winner of the last House of Representatives election was determined by a thin margin. Swing Left helps you find and commit to supporting progressives in your closest Swing District so that you can help ensure we take back the House in 2018. Find your closest Swing District and join the team to learn about actionable opportunities as they become available.

From the FAQ:
What is Swing Left?
Swing Left is an online community that connects you with your nearest Swing District. This is a district where the winner, an elected official who is now serving a two-year term in the House of Representatives, won the November 2016 election by a thin margin, or is otherwise vulnerable in 2018.

Why do we need Swing Left?
Voters in “safe” districts tend to feel powerless about their impact on local elections that have national repercussions. At the same time, House midterm elections, including in Swing Districts, tend to receive less attention than other races. We formed Swing Left to provide a simple way for voters living both inside and outside of Swing Districts to come together and channel their time, resources, and ideas to help progressives prevail in these critical races.

What is Swing Left’s goal?
Swing Left’s goal is to flip the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections and put a check on the Trump and GOP agenda. We will achieve this by organizing and supporting volunteers to have an impact Swing Districts across the country….

Symposium: Court clarifies review of racial gerrymandering, but does not impose strict scrutiny on every intentional creation of a majority-minority district

Source: Kristen Clarke and Ezra Rosenberg, SCOTUSblog, May 22, 2017

As we prepare for the upcoming round of 2020 redistricting, the opinions in Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections and Cooper v. Harris make clear that what constitutes unlawful racial gerrymandering will prove critical. Although states and localities can act intentionally to preserve and create majority-minority districts, they must do so in a way that complies with the Constitution. First, and put simply, race cannot predominate over every other consideration. And, second, unlawful racial gerrymandering cannot be justified as an attempt to achieve partisan ends.

The decisions provide a workable approach for addressing allegations of unconstitutional racial gerrymanders, while at the same time rejecting the proposition that the intentional creation of a majority-minority election district automatically triggers strict scrutiny. This is clear from the sum and substance of the majority opinions, and from the explicit language in the separate opinions of Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas in Bethune-Hill and that of Thomas in Cooper. A contrary result would have imperiled legitimate attempts by state legislatures to create majority-minority districts….

Voter Suppression Analysis

Source: Priorities USA, Civis Analytics, May 3, 2017

From the Dēmos summary:
….This analysis covers the effects of voter identification laws on voter participation during the 2016 election. Specifically, we find that changing to both “strict” and “non-strict” voter-id laws has a significant negative effect on total voter turnout and that these effects are most severe in African American areas of the country.

As a result, we can say with confidence that adding strict identification requirements had significant negative effects on voter participation during the 2016 election. ….

Related:
In Wisconsin, ID law proved insurmountable for many voters
Source: Christina A. Cassidy and Ivan Moreno, Associated Press, May 9, 2017

….By one estimate, 300,000 eligible voters in the state lacked valid photo IDs heading into the election; it is unknown how many people did not vote because they didn’t have proper identification. …

Fifty Shades of Green: High Finance, Political Money, and the U.S. Congress

Source: Thomas Ferguson, Jie Chen, Paul Jorgensen, Roosevelt Institute, May 2017

From the summary:
Social scientists have traditionally struggled to identify clear links between political spending and congressional voting, and many journalists have embraced their skepticism. A giant stumbling block has been the challenge of measuring the labyrinthine ways money flows from investors, firms, and industries to particular candidates. Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Chen directly tackle that classic problem in this paper. Constructing new data sets that capture much larger swaths of political spending, they show direct links between political contributions to individual members of Congress and key floor votes.

Their study builds on two earlier studies published by the Roosevelt Institute. Gerald Epstein and Juan Antonio Montecino’s “Overcharged: The High Cost of High Finance” assesses the staggering costs imposed on the U.S. economy by deregulated, out-of-control finance. Mark Cooper’s “Overcharged and Underserved” analyzes the charges telecommunications oligopolies levy on Americans and their disastrous impacts on services and economic growth.

The message of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Chen’s study is simple: Money influences key congressional floor votes on both finance and telecommunication issues. Americans may not have the “best Congress money can buy”—after all, as they note, their results could be even bleaker—but there is no point in pretending that what appears to be the voice of the people is really often the sound of money talking.

Cook Partisan Voter Index for the 115th Congress

Source: Cook Political Report, 2017

The Cook Political Report is pleased to introduce the 20th anniversary edition of the Partisan Voter Index (PVI) for all 50 states and 435 Congressional districts in the country, compiled especially for the Report by POLIDATA®.

First introduced in 1997, the Cook PVI measures how each district performs at the presidential level compared to the nation as a whole. We have released new PVI scores following every election since 1996 and every round of redistricting since 2001, each time taking into account the prior two presidential elections. This 2017 release has updated our PVI scores to incorporate the results of the November 2016 presidential election.

A Partisan Voting Index score of D+2, for example, means that in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, that district performed an average of two points more Democratic than the nation did as a whole, while an R+4 means the district performed four points more Republican than the national average. If a district performed within half a point of the national average in either direction, we assign it a score of EVEN.

Click here or download our full report below. Additionally, subscribers can view the complete 2017 Partisan Voter Index listing for all 435 districts in three different formats:
2017 Partisan Voter Index by State and District
2017 Partisan Voter Index by Member Name
2017 Partisan Voter Index by Partisan Rank

The Union Household Vote Revisited

Source: Jake Rosenfeld and Patrick Denice, OnLabor blog, April 11, 2017

A spate of labor-related election postmortems converged on one key theme: Donald Trump managed to cleave significant union support away from the Democrats. …. It is true that the Democratic-Republican vote split among union households was narrower in 2016 than in any time since, well, Ronald Reagan’s re-election. In 2016, exit polls indicate that voters in union households supported the Democratic over the Republican candidate by only 8 points. In 2012, by contrast, the Democratic advantage among members of union households was a yawning 18 points. And 2016’s gap looks positively miniscule compared to the Democratic vote advantage among union households Bill Clinton enjoyed. In 1992, exit polls suggest that members of union households preferred Clinton to George H.W. Bush by over 30 points. ….

…. But there is another way of investigating the issue. What if the shrunken Democratic vote advantage among union households in 2016 didn’t so much stem from Trump’s inroads among union household members, but from union households turning to outsider candidates over the Democratic Party choice? ….

Fight Trump. Work From Home.

Source: Tasneem Rajamar, Mother Jones, April 2017

Remote jobs are great for work-life balance—and democracy. ….. By 2020, Dell hopes that half its workforce will be doing at least some remote work. A report released by the company in June 2016 found that thanks to telecommuting, 35,000 US employees each saved the equivalent of one metric ton of carbon dioxide on average every year—even when you consider the extra energy required for heat and lights in a home office….. What’s more, a group of researchers found that for low-income people, the longer their commute is, the less likely they are to vote. And another study shows that no other daily activity brings out as many negative emotions as the morning commute—not dealing with the kids, cleaning the dishes, or even being at work. When you’re already stressed out and annoyed, finding the energy to engage politically is just that much harder…..
Related:
The Sustainability Benefits of the Connected Workplace
Source: John Pflueger, Sarah Gibson, Christian Normand, Dell, June 2016

The “Daily Grind” – Work, Commuting, and Their Impact on Political Participation
Source: Benjamin J. Newman, Joshua Johnson, Patrick L. Lown, American Politics Research, Vol 42, Issue 1, 2014
(subscription required)

Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being
Source: Daniel Kahneman and Alan B. Krueger, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Volume 20, Number 1, Winter 2006

How ‘voter fraud’ crusades undermine voting rights

Source: Jesse Rhodes, The Conversation, February 1, 2017

….Put bluntly, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud by impersonation in the United States. “Impersonation” is what we call the deliberate misrepresentation of identity by individuals in order to manipulate election outcomes.

Research suggests allegations of voter fraud and the calls for stringent election rules are motivated by the desire to suppress voting by citizens of color.

Because stringent election rules suppress minority voting, Trump’s call for an attack on nonexistent voter fraud should be met with serious concern by all Americans. The last thing the United States needs is more measures that make it harder to vote. ….