Category Archives: Elections

Black lives matter: Differential mortality and the racial composition of the U.S. electorate, 1970–2004

Source: Javier M. Rodriguez, Arline T. Geronimus, John Bound, Danny Dorling, Social Science & Medicine, In Press, Available online 21 April 2015
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From the abstract:
Excess mortality in marginalized populations could be both a cause and an effect of political processes. We estimate the impact of mortality differentials between blacks and whites from 1970 to 2004 on the racial composition of the electorate in the US general election of 2004 and in close statewide elections during the study period. We analyze 73 million US deaths from the Multiple Cause of Death files to calculate: (1) Total excess deaths among blacks between 1970 and 2004, (2) total hypothetical survivors to 2004, (3) the probability that survivors would have turned out to vote in 2004, (4) total black votes lost in 2004, and (5) total black votes lost by each presidential candidate. We estimate 2.7 million excess black deaths between 1970 and 2004. Of those, 1.9 million would have survived until 2004, of which over 1.7 million would have been of voting-age. We estimate that 1 million black votes were lost in 2004; of these, 900,000 votes were lost by the defeated Democratic presidential nominee. We find that many close state-level elections over the study period would likely have had different outcomes if voting age blacks had the mortality profiles of whites. US black voting rights are also eroded through felony disenfranchisement laws and other measures that dampen the voice of the US black electorate. Systematic disenfranchisement by population group yields an electorate that is unrepresentative of the full interests of the citizenry and affects the chance that elected officials have mandates to eliminate health inequality.

• We estimate effects of black excess deaths on the composition of the US electorate.
• Excess mortality reduced the 2004 black voting age population by 1.7 million.
• In 2004, Kerry lost 900,000 votes and Bush lost 100,000 to black excess death.
• Outcomes of 7 senate and 11 gubernatorial races could have been reversed.
• Excess mortality among blacks in the United States dampens blacks’ political voice.

Black lives matter: premature deaths skew US election results
Source: MacGregor Campbell, New Scientist, May 1, 2015

If Black People Lived As Long As White People, Election Results Would Be Very Different
Source: Samantha Michaels, Mother Jones, May 1, 2015

When Bosses Recruit Employees into Politics – Evidence from a New National Survey

Source: Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Scholars Strategy Network, Key Findings, April 2015

In 2012, journalists reported that Georgia Pacific, Cintas, and other large companies were sending election campaign endorsements to their workers and predicting job losses or plant closures if favored candidates lost in that year’s election. Are similar efforts by bosses and managers happening in the run up to the 2016 election? Results from a new national survey reveal that one in four American employees has been contacted by his or her boss about politics. Detailed findings suggest the need for reforms to protect a small but significant minority of U.S. workers who are subject to inappropriate political pressures in the workplace….

Leveling the Playing Field? The Role of Public Campaign Funding in Elections

Source: Tilman Klumpp, Hugo M. Mialon, Michael A. Williams, American Law and Economics Review, Advance Access, First published online: April 16, 2015
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From the abstract:
In a series of First Amendment cases, the U.S. Supreme Court established that government may regulate campaign finance, but not if regulation imposes costs on political speech and the purpose of regulation is to “level the political playing field.” The Court has applied this principle to limit the ways in which governments can provide public campaign funding to candidates in elections. A notable example is the Court’s decision to strike down matching funds provisions of public funding programs (Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, 2011). In this paper, we develop a contest-theoretic model of elections in which we analyze the effects of public campaign funding mechanisms, including a simple public option and a public option with matching funds, on program participation, political speech, and election outcomes. We show that a public option with matching funds is equivalent to a simple public option with a lump-sum transfer equal to the maximum level of funding under the matching program; that a public option does not always “level the playing field,” but may make it more uneven and can decrease as well as increase the quantity of political speech by all candidates, depending on the maximum public funding level; and that a public option tends to increase speech in cases where it levels the playing field. Several of the Supreme Court’s arguments in Arizona Free Enterprise are discussed in light of our theoretical results.

Court-Ordered Campaign Finance Deregulation and Stock Value of Contributors

Source: Haishan Yuan, American Law and Economics Review, Volume 17 Issue 1, Spring 2015
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From the abstract:
The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 addressed two issues, soft money and independent expenditures on issue ads for electoral advocacy. The Supreme Court initially upheld most provisions in 2003 but subsequently weakened and struck down provisions on independent expenditures. I examine the stock value of firms with a long history of campaign contributions around the key developments of three Supreme Court cases. Stock prices of contributing firms react positively to Court events associated with campaign finance deregulation. It implies that the average rates of return to these rights of political spending are between 1 and 2% of stock values.

You Gotta Fight for the Right to Vote: Enfranchising Native American Voters

Source: Jeanette Wolfley, University of New Mexico – School of Law Research Paper No. 2015-05, 2015

From the abstract:
Five decades ago, the Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Since its passage, the Voting Right Act has created the opportunity to vote for many racial and language minorities across the country, and has survived many challenges until 2013. The U.S. Supreme Court issued two decisions involving voting rights in its 2012-2013 term. On June 25, 2013, in Shelby County v. Holder, a divided Supreme Court struck down Section 4 – a key provision of the 1965 Voting Right Act (VRA) – as unconstitutional. On June 17, 2013, one week before the Shelby County decision, the Court decided another voting rights challenge. In Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., the Court held that the federal National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) preempted Arizona’s requirement that voters provide proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. Certainly, this decision was not as symbolic as Shelby County, but nonetheless is significant for minority voters and voters in general. In the aftermath of Shelby County, many voting rights litigators and scholars are contemplating what the case means for the future of Black and Latino minority voting rights across the country. To date, however, scholars’ and practitioners’ reaction to and focus on the Shelby County decision has not considered or identified its impact on Indian voters or reservation residents. Accordingly, this Article seeks to fill the void by examining the Shelby County and Inter Tribal Council decisions and provides some insight and effective responses with regard to their impacts on Native American voters across Indian country.

Where Does Gerrymandering Begin

Source: Jennifer Ginn, Council of State Governments, The Current State #11, April 6, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court and researchers at Duke University are looking at the same question. When does redistricting move from using a partisan advantage into gerrymandering? Lisa Soronen, executive director of the State and Local Legal Center, said the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus vs. Alabama case currently being decided by the Supreme Court concerns a redistricting plan set up by the courts in 1990…. Soronen said the justices have several big picture questions to decide, such as how much use of race is too much. Everyone agrees that race has to be considered in redistricting, but it can’t be the predominant factor. Just what that means is for the court to decide, she said. …. Jonathan Mattingly, professor of mathematics and statistical sciences at Duke University, has developed a mathematical model that may prove useful for trying to decide that fine line between political advantage and gerrymandering….

The Two Trends that Matter for Party Politics

Source: Joseph Fishkin, Heather Gerken, Yale Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 524, October 16, 2014

From the abstract:
In this essay, Professors Fishkin and Gerken argue that the Supreme Court’s deregulation of the campaign-finance system is fueling a shift toward “shadow parties” — groups that are separate from the formal party apparatus but run by party insiders and central to the workings of the party writ large. They argue that the roots of this trend are to be found, paradoxically, not in the two parties’ weakness but in their strength. Contrary to the emerging conventional wisdom in the field, the authors suggest that the Court’s 2014 decision in McCutcheon v. FEC will do little to arrest this trend. The essay closes with a brief exploration of the trend’s normative implications. This essay is a version of a talk presented at the 2014 Brennan Center Convening, Money in Politics 2030: Toward a New Jurisprudence.

‘Rhetoric and Reality’: Testing the Harm of Campaign Spending

Source: Rebecca L. Brown, Andrew D. Martin, USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 15-10, March 23, 2015

From the abstract:
This is an empirical piece prepared for a conference entitled Testing the Constitution, held at the University of Chicago Law School. Brown and Martin collaborated to design a survey experiment aimed at testing some of the factual claims made by the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC. The paper shows that there is a demonstrable harm to the electorate’s faith in democracy, and argues that these findings supply a government interest, separate from prevention of corruption, in regulating campaign spending.

Vulnerability in Numbers: Racial Composition of the Electorate, Voter Suppression, and the Voting Rights Act

Source: Ian Vandewalker, Keith Gunnar Bentele, Harvard Latino Law Review, Vol. 18, 2015

From the abstract:
In Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court rendered one of the most potent antidiscrimination provisions of American law a dead letter: the preclearance regime of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). Shelby County held that the formula determining which jurisdictions are required to obtain federal approval for voting law changes was outdated and offensive to states’ rights. The Court ignored ample evidence of discrimination in the covered jurisdictions, focusing instead on improvements in voter turnout and registration. We present new empirical evidence that the proposal and passage of restrictive voting laws, such as photo identification requirements and reductions of early voting opportunities, are associated with racial factors such as larger African American populations and increases in minority voter turnout. These results are consistent with the interpretation that restrictive voting laws have been pursued in order to suppress Democratic-leaning minority voters, and they are suggestive that racial discrimination is a contributing factor to this type of legislation. The increases in registration and turnout that Shelby County hailed as evidence that preclearance is no longer needed are actually risk factors for potentially discriminatory voting laws. We suggest opportunities for countering discrimination after Shelby County. The evidence we present is relevant to litigation under remaining provisions of the VRA, especially the prohibition on voting laws with a discriminatory effect under Section 2. Finally, we suggest that our findings should inform the Congressional response to Shelby County: a new coverage formula should include the racial characteristics we identify as risk factors.