Category Archives: Politics

Whiteness and the Emergence of the Republican Party in the Early Twentieth-Century South

Source: Boris Heersink and Jeffery A. Jenkins, Studies in American Political Development, January 6, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In the post-Reconstruction South, two Republican factions vied for control of state party organizations. The Black-and-Tans sought to keep the party inclusive and integrated, while the Lily-Whites worked to turn the GOP into a whites-only party. The Lily-Whites ultimately emerged victorious, as they took over most state parties by the early twentieth century. Yet no comprehensive data exist to measure how the conflict played out in each state. To fill this void, we present original data that track the racial composition of Republican National Convention delegations from the South between 1868 and 1952. We then use these data in a set of statistical analyses to show that, once disfranchising laws were put into place, the “whitening” of the GOP in the South led to a significant increase in the Republican Party’s vote totals in the region. Overall, our results suggest that the Lily-White takeover of the Southern GOP was a necessary step in the Republican Party’s reemergence—and eventual dominance—in the region during the second half of the twentieth century.

The future is female: How the growing political power of women will remake American politics

Source: Michael Hais and Morley Winograd, Brookings Institution, Fixgov blog, February 19, 2020

The most profound change in American politics today and in the years to come will result from a massive movement of women into the Democratic Party….. As far back as the Reagan presidency, there has been a gender gap in American partisanship with women tilting toward the Democratic Party and men toward the GOP. But the overwhelming change in political party demographics since Trump’s victory in 2016 is the culmination of a long-term movement in party identification and voting behavior among women. With the election of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, what had been a modest gap of variable proportions has turned into a chasm so wide no Republican presidential candidate will be able to cross it for years to come….

Janus-Faced Judging: How the Supreme Court is Radically Weakening Stare Decisis

Source: Michael Gentithes, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, January 16, 2020

From the abstract:
Drastic changes in Supreme Court doctrine require citizens to reorder their affairs rapidly and undermine trust in the judiciary. Stare decisis has traditionally limited the pace of such change on the Court, acting as a bulwark to wholesale jurisprudential reversals by the Justices. Yet in recent years, the stare decisis doctrine itself has come under threat.

With little public or scholarly notice, the Supreme Court has radically weakened stare decisis. The Court has long suggested that a precedent, regardless of the quality of its reasoning, should stand unless there is some special, practical justification to overrule it. But in several recent decisions, the Court has suggested that “poor reasoning” in a prior decision both triggers stare decisis analysis and justifies overruling cases. This presents a grave threat to legal stability. Justices can always find reasoning they believe is “poor” in prior decisions. Stare decisis under this formulation provides little restraint against changing course. It also opens the door to “wave theories” of stare decisis, whereby new Justices seeking rapid change can claim fidelity to a weak version of stare decisis early in their careers, only to suggest a stronger version later to protect their own decisions.

This weakened version of stare decisis has deep analytical flaws that would allow perpetual changes to legal doctrine based simply on the current Justices’ policy preferences. The Court must not accept the alarming effects such a weak version of stare decisis would have on legal stability, consistency, and judicial legitimacy.

You’re more likely to believe polls when your candidate leads

Source: Jared Wadley, Futurity, November 7, 2019

People disproportionately find polls more credible when their preferred candidate is leading, according to a new study.

The study also implies that there are potential benefits of emphasizing polls’ methodological quality to mitigate people’s biases.

“On a number of fronts, it is clear that people believe what they want to believe,” says Josh Pasek, an associate professor of communication and media at the University of Michigan. “It’s depressing, but not really surprising, that they are willing to cherry pick which polls to trust in ways that support the narrative they want to hear.”

Pasek says the results pose a challenge for democratic legitimacy in a polarized society….

Polarization, Participation, and Premiums: How Political Behavior Helps Explain Where the ACA Works, and Where It Doesn’t

Source: Samuel Trachtman, Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, Volume 44, Issue 6, December 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Context:
Political partisanship can influence whether individuals enroll in government programs. In particular, Republicans, ceteris paribus, are less likely to enroll in Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual marketplace insurance than Democrats. The logic of adverse selection suggests low uptake among Republicans would generally put upward pressure on marketplace premiums, especially in geographic areas with more Republican partisans.

Methods:
Using data from Healthcare.gov at the rating area level, this article examines the association between Republican vote share and growth in ACA marketplace premiums, being careful to account for potential confounding variables.

Findings:
Insurers have increased marketplace premiums at higher rates in areas with more Republican voters. In the preferred model specification, a 10-percentage-point difference in Republican vote share is associated with a 3.2-percentage-point increase in average premium growth for a standard plan. A variety of robustness and placebo checks suggest the relationship is driven by partisanship.

Conclusions:
Partisan polarization can threaten the successful implementation of policies that rely on high levels of citizen participation.

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.

The Progressive Labor Platform is Popular

Source: Kevin Reuning, C. M. Lewis, Data for Progress and Strikewave, October 3, 2019

From the summary:
Data for Progress surveyed key components of Bernie Sanders’s “Workplace Democracy Plan” and Elizabeth Warren’s “Empowering American Workers and Raising Wages” and found that the platform’s policies are broadly supported by voters. The policies tend to have broad support from Democrats, but many also have net positive support among independents and Republicans. In addition, we find that there is a potential key bloc of voters that either did not vote in 2016 or voted for Trump that support components of the platform, making them potential targets for 2020 election efforts. One caveat is important: many of these policies also showed high rates of voters having no strong opinion, meaning the numbers could change.

The highlights:
– A federal “Just Cause” law, which would radically change employee-employer relations and is included in Sanders’s plan, is somewhat or strongly supported by 56 percent of voters and opposed by 30 percent of voters. Even among Republicans, “Just Cause” is two percent underwater (42 percent support, 44 percent oppose).
– Expanding federally protected union rights to farm and domestic workers has bipartisan support and is included in both plans. Democrats support it at 66 percent to 21 percent, and Republicans support it at 41 percent to 38 percent.
– A ban on forced arbitration, which is included in Warren’s plan, is supported by 45 percent of voters and opposed by only 27 percent.

No Rage Against the Machines: Threat of Automation Does Not Change Policy Preferences

Source: Baobao Zhang, MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2019-25, September 16, 2019

From the abstract:
Labor-saving technology has already decreased employment opportunities for middle-skill workers. Experts anticipate that advances in AI and robotics will cause even more significant disruptions in the labor market over the next two decades. This paper presents three experimental studies that investigate how this profound economic change could affect mass politics. Recent observational studies suggest that workers’ exposure to automation risk predicts their support not only for redistribution but also for right-wing populist policies and candidates. Other observational studies, including my own, find that workers underestimate the impact of automation on their job security. Misdirected blame towards immigrants and workers in foreign countries, rather than concerns about workplace automation, could be driving support for right-wing populism. To correct American workers’ beliefs about the threats to their jobs, I conducted three survey experiments in which I informed workers about the existent and future impact of workplace automation. While these informational treatments convinced workers that automation threatens American jobs, they failed to change respondents’ preferences on welfare, immigration, and trade policies. My research finds that raising awareness about workplace automation did not decrease opposition to globalization or increase support for policies that will prepare workers for future technological disruptions.

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.