Category Archives: Elections

Running While Female: Using AI to Track how Twitter Commentary Disadvantages Women in the 2020 U.S. Primaries

Source: Sarah Oates, Olya Gurevich, Christopher Walker, Lucina Di Meco, Philip Merrill College of Journalism – University of Maryland, The Wilson Center, and Marvelous AI, August 28, 2019

From the abstract:
While there is conclusive research that female political candidates are treated unfairly by traditional media outlets, the volume and pace of information flow online make it difficult to track the differentiated treatment for female candidates on social media in real time. This paper leverages human coding and natural language processing to cluster tweets into narratives concerned with policy, ideology, character, identity, and electability, focusing on the Democratic candidates in the 2020 U.S. Presidential primary election. We find that female candidates are frequently marginalized and attacked on character and identity issues that are not raised for their male counterparts, echoing the problems found in the traditional media in the framing of female candidates. Our research found a Catch-22 for female candidates, in that they either failed to garner serious attention at all or, if they became a subject of Twitter commentary, were attacked on issues of character and identity that were not raised for their male counterparts. At the same time, women running for president received significantly more negative tweets from right-leaning and non-credible sources than did male candidates. Following the first Democratic debates, the individual differences between male and female candidates became even more pronounced, although at least one female candidate (Elizabeth Warren) seemed to rise above the character attacks by the end of the first debates. We propose that by using artificial intelligence informed by traditional political communication theory, we can much more readily identify and challenge both sexist comments and coverage at scale. We use the concept of narratives by searching for political communication narratives about female candidates that are visible, enduring, resonant, and relevant to particular campaign messages. A real-time measurement system, developed by MarvelousAI, creates a way to allow candidates to identify and push back against sexist framing on social media and take control of their own narratives much more readily.

The Elephant and the Bird: Republican Candidates’ Use of Strategy and Issue Framing in Twitter During the 2016 Republican Presidential Primaries

Source: Dror Walter, Yotam Ophir, International Journal of Communication, Vol 13, 2019

From the abstract:
Studies have demonstrated an increase in the use of strategy framing in coverage of political campaigns over the years, and during campaign cycles. Despite increases in politicians’ and voters’ use of social media, very little is known about the use of framing in e-campaigns. This study examines Republican presidential candidates’ Twitter activity during the 2016 primaries (more than 22,000 tweets). We find that only two candidates, Donald Trump, and John Kasich, have followed the news media tendency to emphasize strategy over issues. Also, candidates dedicated more than a third of their Twitter activity to updating followers on events and the campaign. Using time-series analysis, we found that the use of framing was dynamic over time, with issue framing increasing around debates and strategy around voting days. This study contributes to our understanding of the use of social media as a complementary and alternative method for direct communication between candidates and their voters.

Related:
In 2016, the Top GOP Candidates Used This Twitter Strategy
Source: Bert Gambini, Futurity, October 29, 2019

Among the Republican hopefuls in the 2016 presidential primaries, the last two standing—Donald Trump and John Kasich—employed the same Twitter strategy, research finds.

National Resource Consortium on Full Student Voter Participation

Source: National Resource Consortium on Full Student Voter Participation, 2019

The National Resource Consortium on Full Student Voter Participation seeks to develop and advance evidence-based promising practices that bring institutions and partners closer to a shared goal of full high-quality student participation in the democratic process, particularly in elections. The core team and co-designers seek to achieve this goal by leveraging the Harvard IOP’s network of National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement annual conference (NAC) and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and Campus Vote Project’s Voter Friendly Campus (VFC) network to develop strategies that engage opportunities in the field around promising practices for voter registration during orientation and new student programs and services or during other endeavors that reach a majority of students at an institution.

This process began in January prior to the February 2019 National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement annual conference at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics (IOP). During this in-person convening the National Resource Consortium on Full Student Voter Participation was outlined with the help of national partners Fair Election Center’s Campus Vote Project, NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and the NASPA LEAD Initiative, the Foundation for Civic Leadership and Mile 22 Associates . The outcome of the convening was a collaboration with NAC and VFC campuses and the aforementioned partners to explore full student voter participation opportunities at higher education institutions.

The National Resource Consortium on Full Student Voter Participation was conceived in January 2019 to explore such opportunities connected to first-year and transfer student orientation programs and other new student services. This insight brief outlines the steps taken by a select group of national partners (noted as the core team) and campuses (noted as co-designers) between January and June 2019; as well as future explorations for this work.

2020 Presidential Election Mode

Source: Mark Zandi, Regional Financial Review, September 2019
(subscription required)

The economy may not be top of mind for voters in every election, but it is hardly ever further than a close second. This is the principle underpinning Moody’s Analytics presidential election models. Our state-level approach has an impressive, though no longer perfect, track record. In 2016, our models failed to correctly predict the Electoral College vote for the first time. We have retooled our approach with the aim of putting together a prediction for the 2020 election.

Democracy Counts 2018: Increased Student and Institutional Engagement

Source: Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, 2019

From the Washington Post article:
College students across the United States more than doubled their rate of voting between the 2014 and 2018 midterm elections, according to a study published Thursday by Tufts University — a dramatic spike in political engagement that could draw unprecedented attention to these voters in next year’s presidential election. The study found that 40 percent of students who are eligible to vote cast ballots last year, up from 19 percent in 2014.

Related:
2018 Data Portal

Democracy Diverted: Polling Place Closures and the Right to Vote

Source: Leadership Conference Education Fund, 2019

From the summary:
The surge in voting changes at the state and local level after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision catalyzed a systemic examination of poll closures and other seemingly innocuous changes that could have negatively impacted voters of color. In 2016, The Leadership Conference Education Fund identified 868 polling place closures in formerly Section 5 jurisdictions in our initial report, The Great Poll Closure. This report, Democracy Diverted: Polling Place Closures and the Right to Vote, is both an update to — and a major expansion of — our original publication.

Our first report drew on a sample of fewer than half of the approximately 860 counties or county-equivalents that were once covered by Section 5. This report covers an expanded data set of 757 counties. What’s more, the 2016 report relied on voluntary reports of aggregate numbers of polling places that state election officials gave to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. This report relies largely on independent counts of polling places from public records requests and publicly available polling place lists.

In this report, we found 1,688 polling place closures between 2012 and 2018, almost double the 868 closures found in our 2016 report. Additionally, Democracy Diverted analyzes the reduction of polling places in the formerly covered Section 5 jurisdictions in the years between the 2014 and 2018 midterm elections. We found 1,173 fewer polling places in 2018 — despite a significant increase in voter turnout. To understand the discriminatory impact of these closures, we analyzed how voters of color were impacted at the precinct level. This analysis — precisely the kind that the U.S. Department of Justice conducted under preclearance — takes time and resources. Our hope is that journalists, advocates, and voters will use this county-level polling place data to scrutinize the impact of poll closures in their communities, to understand their impact on voters of color, and to create a fairer and more just electoral system for all.

Data Note: A Look At Swing Voters Leading Up To The 2020 Election

Source: Ashley Kirzinger, Audrey Kearney, Mollyann Brodie, Charlie Cook, and Amy Walter, Kasier Family Foundation, Issue Brief, September 5, 2019

Findings:
More than one year out from the general election, there are many factors that could influence voters’ decisions to either vote for President Trump or the Democratic nominee or even stay home on November 3, 2020. These factors include the characteristics of the eventual Democratic nominee, views of President Trump, and how motivated voters are feeling about the election. The latest analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation, in collaboration with the Cook Political Report, finds that while a large share of voters are already firm about how they plan to vote in the 2020 presidential election (63%), there is a still a substantial share (30%) who say they have not made their minds up. With three in ten votes still up for grabs, this data note examines the demographics of swing voters: those who either report that they are undecided about their vote in 2020 or are leaning towards a candidate but haven’t made up their minds yet. It also explores the policy issues that could swing these voters to vote for either President Trump or the Democratic nominee.

Why the Right Hates Voting Rights: An Interview With Ari Berman

Source: Luke Savage, Jacobin, September 6, 2019

Conservatives in the United States know they can’t win on a level playing field — so they’ve started rigging the electoral rules in their favor, democracy be damned.

When the Republican Party recaptured the House in the 2010 midterm elections, it marked not only the end of a relatively brief period of Democratic control but also the beginning of a wider offensive against voting rights that has been underway ever since. By capturing key statehouses in 2010 and in the years that followed, Republicans have been increasingly able to tilt the electoral process in their favor — a strategy that has profoundly affected the results of recent elections and was one of the major backdrops to Donald Trump’s surprise Electoral College victory in 2016.

Jacobin’s Luke Savage sat down with Mother Jones senior reporter Ari Berman to discuss the history of gerrymandering and voter suppression — and the considerable impact both continue to have on the course of US politics.

A Constitutional Standard to End Gerrymandering

Source: Alton Frye, PA Times, Vol. 5 no. 1, Spring 2019
(subscription required)

To cure the corruption of gerrymandering, take the profit out of it. The Constitution provides the standard for doing so by specifiying that representatives are to be chosen “by the People of the several States.” That provision followed debate in the convention of 1787 that, according to James Madison’s notes, explicitly rejected the option of empowering state legislatures to choose members of the federal house of representatives. In practice, by asserting authority to draw congressional district lines on a partisan basis, state legislatures have usurped the power vested by the Constitution in the people of the states.

Analysis demonstrates that allocating seats in the House according to the statewide vote of the people would produce a national legislature comparable in partisan balance to the current House, but with much greater equity among the parties at the state level. Applying that constitutional mechanism would rob parties of the advantage sought from gerrymandering and create incentives for the fair redistricting procedures that courts and citizens have long sought. This study illustrates the outcomes that would result, increasing competitiveness in 39 states…..

Spending at Trump Properties

Source: ProPublica, 2019

2020 cycle
Top three spenders (as of July 31, 2019):
Trump Victory – $449,715
Donald J. Trump For President, Inc. – $287,740
Republican National Committee – $154,873

2018 cycle
Top three spenders:
Donald J. Trump For President, Inc. – $3,442,383
Republican National Committee – $1,391,855
America First Action, Inc. – $415,578

2016 cycle
Top three spenders:
Donald J. Trump For President, Inc. – $9,812,319
Trump Victory – $650,715
Republican National Committee – $16,412