Category Archives: Elections

The Impact of Protest on Elections in the United States

Source: Daniel Q. Gillion, Sarah A. Soule, Social Science Quarterly, Volume 99 Issue 5, November 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Objectives:
The objective of this study was to understand the effect of citizen mobilization on both electoral outcomes and on the likelihood that new candidates will enter races to challenge incumbent politicians.

Methods:
This study uses quantitative, longitudinal data (at the congressional‐district level) on protest, electoral outcomes, and challengers entering races, which are analyzed using an autoregressive distributed lagged regression model.

Results:
Results show that protests that express liberal issues lead to a greater percentage of the two‐party vote share for Democratic candidates, while protests that espouse conservative issues offer Republican candidates a greater share of the two‐party vote. Additionally, results indicated that protest shines a light on incumbent politicians’ failure to address constituent concerns, which leads quality candidates to enter subsequent races to challenge incumbent politicians.

Conclusions:
Citizen activism, which has been shown to impact state and firm policy decisions, also impacts electoral outcomes.

Related:
Yes, protests really can sway elections
Source: by Edmund L. Andrews, Futurity, December 13, 2018

Protests really do have an effect on election results, according to a new study based on 30 years of data.

Election 2018: Midterm Analysis

Source: Tim Storey and Wendy Underhill, State Legislatures Magazine, November-December 2018

Republicans Still Control Most of the Nation’s Legislative Seats, but the Gap Between the Parties Narrowed Considerably

Related:
Voters Make Policy
Source: Patrick Potyondy, State Legislatures Magazine, November-December 2018

Citizens Had Their Say on More Than 150 Ballot Measures That Could Transform Their States

Republicans Brazenly Gut Voting Rights in Lame Duck Before They Lose Power

Source: Ari Berman, Mother Jones, December 3, 2018

Four states are taking unprecedented steps to strip power from Democrats and make it harder to vote.

Related:
Case Studies in Voter Suppression: Profiling Voter Suppressors
Source: Danielle Root and Aadam Barclay, Center for American Progress Action Fund, November 26, 2018

Why the Midterm Results Should Concern You Regardless of Which Party You Support – The House of Representatives is not representative

Source: Michael Li, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, blog, November 16, 2018

As the partisans clear the rubble, the results of the 2018 midterm elections should deeply disturb all Americans who care about representative democracy no matter their politics.

That’s because despite the Democrats’ approximately seven-point win of the percentage of votes cast, Democrats look likely to win only 37 seats. This is a mockery of the notion held by John Adams and the founding fathers that Congress should be an “exact portrait, a miniature” of the people as a whole.

Contrast that to the Tea Party wave of 2010, when a seven-point win by Republicans gave them 63 seats. Democrats may have the satisfaction of a majority, but it is by modern standards a razor-thin one. It’s also a majority that may be hard to hold in 2020 if the highly unusual wave dynamics of 2018 don’t repeat themselves.

This unrepresentative outcome has to do in large part with aggressive gerrymandering in a handful of key states like North Carolina, Ohio and Michigan. In North Carolina, Democrats won half the congressional vote but less than a quarter of seats. In fact, not a single congressional seat in North Carolina changed parties in 2016 and 2018. The results are equally stark for Ohio, where the two major parties regularly split the vote nearly 50-50, but Republicans have maintained a lopsided 12 to 4 advantage in the Ohio congressional delegation since 2012.

Never have maps been more gerrymandered. But also never have there been so many massive wave elections to test the strength of gerrymanders. So far in the four elections of the decade, gerrymanders are undefeated, producing with rare exception, exactly the results they were designed to do…..

Welcome to the App-Based Resistance … Used by Both Sides

Source: Molly Fosco, Ozy, November 20, 2018

….Hustle is just one of a number of startups — on both sides of the aisle — that have emerged in recent years and are leveraging technology beyond traditional social media platforms in grassroots and political organizing. As national political debate gets increasingly heated, they’re witnessing growing traction, with unprecedented usage in the just-concluded midterms. For liberals, they’re tools to resist the Trump presidency. For conservatives, they’re weapons to fight back against those progressive efforts.

Ragtag, founded in 2016, connects people who have technical skills to left-of-center campaigns and organizations that need them. The Action Network, started in 2012, is using an advanced digital toolkit to mobilize more volunteers in the progressive movement than ever before. OpnSesame and RumbleUp, both founded last year, are texting platforms similar to Hustle but are focused exclusively on conservative campaigns and causes. And i360, which started in 2009, is a Koch brothers–backed technology used by several conservative organizers that connects voter information with data from credit bureaus and previous voting records…..

Why the 2018 Midterms Matter for the U.S. Economy

Source: Bernard Yaros, Regional Financial Review, Vol. 29 no. 2, October 2018
(subscription required)

Though midterms do not have much of an economic impact via policy uncertainty, they can still affect the economy by altering the course of federal fiscal policy. This is exactly what we expect to happen after the 2018 midterms. This article discusses how tax legislation, annual appropriations, and other areas of fiscal policy could change depending on the composition of the next Congress.

When Political Mega-Donors Join Forces: How the Koch Network and the Democracy Alliance Influence Organized U.S. Politics on the Right and Left

Source: Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Theda Skocpol and Jason Sclar, Studies in American Political Development, Advance Access, Published online: October 22, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
As economic inequalities have skyrocketed in the United States, scholars have started paying more attention to the individual political activities of billionaires and multimillionaires. Useful as such work may be, it misses an important aspect of plutocratic influence: the sustained efforts of organized groups and networks of political mega-donors, who work together over many years between as well as during elections to reshape politics. Our work contributes to this new direction by focusing on two formally organized consortia of wealthy donors that have recently evolved into highly consequential forces in U.S. politics. We develop this concept and illustrate the importance of organized donor consortia by presenting original data and analyses of the right-wing Koch seminars (from 2003 to the present) and the progressive left-leaning Democracy Alliance (from 2005 to the present). We describe the evolution, memberships, and organizational routines of these two wealthy donor collectives, and explore the ways in which each has sought to reconfigure and bolster kindred arrays of think tanks, advocacy groups, and constituency efforts operating at the edges of America’s two major political parties in a period of intensifying ideological polarization and growing conflict over the role of government in addressing rising economic inequality. Our analysis argues that the rules and organizational characteristics of donor consortia shape their resource allocations and impact, above and beyond the individual characteristics of their wealthy members.

Voter Suppression During the 2018 Midterm Elections: A Comprehensive Survey of Voter Suppression and Other Election Day Problems

Source: Danielle Root and Aadam Barclay, Center for American Progress, November 20, 2018

During the 2018 midterm elections, voter participation was more than 10 percentage points higher than it was in the 2014 midterm elections, demonstrating Americans’ demand for change and increased enthusiasm for exercising their civic duty to vote. That said, nearly 120 million eligible Americans did not participate in the November elections.

Widespread voter suppression—particularly against historically marginalized groups—is a reoccurring problem in the United States. Each election cycle, untold numbers of eligible Americans are prevented from voting due to barriers in the voter registration process, restrictions on casting ballots, and discriminatory and partisan-rigged district maps. Voter suppression measures can differ by state and even by individual county. And while some voter suppression measures actively seek to discriminate against certain groups, others result from innocent administrative errors and glitches. Regardless of its form or intent, however, voter suppression is relentlessly effective in preventing voting-eligible Americans from contributing to the electoral process.

This year—perhaps uncoincidentally—severe voter suppression occurred in states with highly competitive political races, including Georgia, Texas, Florida, and North Dakota. Policies and practices that limit participation by even a few thousand votes can mean the difference between victory and defeat in competitive elections. When voters cast a ballot, they expect their votes to matter in choosing representatives who are responsive to, reflective of, and accountable to the communities they represent. Yet when voter suppression occurs, election results may be less reflective of constituents’ actual will.

This report describes some of the voter suppression measures and other Election Day problems that potentially kept millions of eligible Americans from participating in the 2018 midterm elections. These include:
1. Voter registration problems
2. Voter purges
3. Strict voter ID and ballot requirements
4. Voter confusion
5. Voter intimidation and harassment
6. Poll closures and long lines
7. Malfunctioning voting equipment
8. Disenfranchisement of justice-involved individuals
9. Gerrymandering

This report also offers recommendations for combating voter suppression and making voting more convenient for all eligible Americans.

The United States Is Becoming a Two-Tiered Country With Separate and Unequal Voting Laws

Source: Ari Berman, Mother Jones, January/February 2019

But the midterms showed that voting rights may finally be a political winner.

…..Voters in Georgia and other states faced onerous barriers to performing their civic duty this year. As these voters were running into obstacles, residents of other states were passing ballot measures to strike down voting restrictions and make voting easier for many more people. These parallel worlds mean voting in America today looks a lot like it did more than half a century ago. We’re becoming two Americas again: one where casting a ballot is a breeze, and another where it’s a pitched battle…..