Category Archives: Politics

Assessing Local Government Capacity for Implementing Sustainable Transportation: The Role of Political Culture

Source: Aiden Irish, International Journal of Public Administration, Published online: April 6, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Transportation development increasingly relies on local governments to implement sustainable strategies, yet implementation success varies widely. This begs an important question, why are some cities successful and others not? In response, this study focuses on the political culture characteristics of city leadership and staff pertaining to sustainable transportation. Employing semi-structured interviews with officials in two case study cities—Pomona and Pasadena, California—the study identifies and traces the impact of cultural characteristics on network interactions and the resulting transportation innovation. Finally, this research suggests key political and department characteristics that contribute to political cultures that facilitate sustainable transportation development.

Income Inequality: The Public and the Partisan Divide

Source: Robert J. Blendon & John M. Benson, Challenge, Vol. 59 no. 1, January 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
These experts canvassed all relevant public opinion polls to discover how attitudes on inequality differ between Democrats and Republicans. The gap is distressingly wide, suggesting the issue is highly ideological and so are the solutions.

The issue of income inequality in the United States, and the need to address it in the years ahead, has recently received a great deal of attention in the media, political discussions, and academic publications. What has not been recognized is that this issue is being seen and discussed quite differently by the partisans of the two political parties. This article shows the wide differences in attitudes between Democrats and Republicans on the issue of income inequality and discusses the implications of the findings for the 2016 election.

We use findings from multiple recent public opinion polls in the United States and comparative results from twelve other industrialized countries to examine attitudes about economic inequality. Taken together, these polls make three main points. (1) Although a majority of Americans, of both parties, believe that the gap between the rich and the poor is getting larger, there is almost no agreement between Democrats and Republicans on what should be done about the problem. (2) The debate over income inequality is not the same in the United States as it is in other industrialized countries in that the causes of the problem are perceived differently here. (3) Americans as a whole are less concerned about the gap between the rich and the poor than residents of many other industrialized countries are. This may be a function of partisan views of the role of government or different perceptions of the causes of income inequality.
Related:
Partisan divide over income inequality makes reducing it even harder
Robert J. Blendon & John M. Benson, The Conversation, April 13, 2016

How America’s Political Trends Favor Democrats in 2016 and Beyond

Source: Mark Green, New Republic, April 7, 2016

We may be in the midst of a New Progressive Era, with a semi-realignment coming this November. ….

…..There are at least five reasons leading to a partial realignment:
1. GOP Extremism ….
2. Conservative economic theories have been debunked ….
3. Demographics ….
4. All the Single Ladies ….
5. Losing our Religion ….

The Scandal of Voter Suppression in America

Source: William John Cox, Global Research, February 29, 2016

Ostensibly, universal voting is the ideal of a free and democratic republic; however, barriers have been placed between many citizens and the ballot box ever since the creation of the United States. Many of these obstacles, such as property ownership and the racially-biased poll tax, have been removed. They are, however, being replaced by voter identification (ID) laws and other voter suppression schemes designed to discourage and prevent many, otherwise eligible voters from participating in elections. Voter suppression takes many forms and—in its aggregate—could allow the election of a president in the November 2016 election who is not the choice of the American People…. The most successful electoral subversion results from voter ID laws passed in many states in the past 15 years. These laws have been enacted—purportedly— to prevent voter fraud, in which an ineligible voter impersonates an eligible voter. Typically, these laws require the presentation of photographic identification, such as a driver’s license or passport in order to vote. In truth, these laws are a blatant stratagem to prevent the political opposition from voting….

Related:
UPDATE: Dems respond to US Rep. Grothman comment on voter ID law
Source: WMTV, April 6, 2016

Wisconsin Congressman Glenn Grothman was being interviewed in Milwaukee last night on how Republicans will fare in the November general election. His controversial remarks are what have people talking.
“You know that a lot of Republicans, since 1984 in the presidential races, have not been able to win in Wisconsin,” WTMJ Charles Benson said. “Why would it be any different for Ted Cruz, or a Donald Trump?”
“I think Hillary Clinton is the weakest candidate the Democrats have ever put up and now we have photo ID, and I think photo ID will make a little difference as well,” Congressman Grothman responded.
His comments have been resonating across the state today, causing a lot of back and forth between views.
It seems what both sides of the aisle were at odds about, while the voter ID law was passed almost 5 years ago, are resurfacing again….

If You Think Voter ID Is About Voter Fraud, This Republican Congressman Has News For You
by Aaron Rupar, Think Progress, April 6, 2016

Voter Identification Laws and the Suppression of Minority Votes
Source: Zoltan Hajnal, Nazita Lajevardi, Lindsay Nielson, University of California – San Diego, [2016]

The Most Brazen Attempt at Voter Suppression Yet
Source: Jamelle Bouie, Slate, October 29, 2014
New revelations show GOP officials in key battleground states are attempting to purge millions of minorities from the voter rolls.

Republicans Admit Voter-ID Laws Are Aimed at Democratic Voters
Source: Jamelle Bouie, Daily Beast, August 28, 2013

Beyond North Carolina’s LGBT Battle: States’ War on Cities

Source: Alan Greenblatt, Governing, March 25, 2016

North Carolina’s fight over LGBT protections is part of a larger recent shift in political dynamics: States are thwarting local laws any chance they get — while simultaneously complaining about federal intrusion on their own. ….

….If a state official doesn’t like a city’s policy, there’s little penalty involved in trying to block it. A tax on earnings may be an essential source of revenue for St. Louis, but voting to kill it allows a legislator from outstate to take an anti-tax stand essentially for free. It won’t in any way affect revenues or programs back home. The same pattern of state legislative indifference to urban desires holds true for spending decisions. Consider infrastructure. The percentage of urban roads that have “poor pavement quality” has increased more than 50 percent over the past decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. When it comes to public transit — and light rail in particular — state officials have been abandoning projects pretty decisively in recent months…..
Related:
Growing Southern cities are increasingly targets of state pre-emption
Source: Institute for Southern Studies, April 1, 2016

Wisconsin’s Voter ID Law Requires an Education Campaign, Which the State Hasn’t Funded

Source: Sarah Smith, ProPublica, March 24, 2016

The controversial law is about to get its inaugural use in a major statewide vote, Wisconsin’s April 5th primary.
Related:
Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Voter ID Laws
More than 30 states have enacted some version of voter ID law in recent years. How much do these laws change voting rules and what impact could they have on the general election?

State Partisan Composition

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 2016

You often hear the phrases “split control” or “divided government.” These terms relate to the party control of state legislatures or state government, which may change with each election. Current and historic party control of state legislatures and government can be accessed below. For consistency, the historic charts show the party control as of January in each year….

Strict Voter Identification Laws Advantage Whites – and Skew American Democracy to the Right

Source: Zoltan Hajnal, Nazita Lajevardi, Lindsay Nielson, Scholars Strategy Network, Key Findings, February 2016

From the summary:
Strict voter identification laws are proliferating all around the country. In 2006, only one U.S. state required identification to vote on Election Day. By now, 11 states have this requirement, and 34 states with more than half the nation’s population have some version of voter identification rules. With many states considering stricter laws and the courts actively evaluating the merits of voter identification requirements in a series of landmark cases, the actual consequences of these laws need to be pinned down. Do they distort election outcomes?

Unequal Incomes, Ideology and Gridlock: How Rising Inequality Increases Political Polarization

Source: John Voorheis – University of Oregon, Nolan McCarty – Princeton University, Boris Shor – Georgetown University, August 21, 2015

From the abstract:
Income inequality and political polarization have both increased dramatically in the United States over the last several decades. A small but growing literature has suggested that these two phenomena may be related and mutually reinforcing: income inequality leads to political polarization, and the gridlock induced by polarization reduces the ability of politicians to alleviate rising inequality. Scholars, however, have not credibly identified the causal relationships. Using newly available data on polarization in state legislatures and state-level income inequality, we extend previous analyses to the US state level. Employing a relatively underutilized instrumental variables identification strategy allows us to obtain the first credible causal estimates of the effect of inequality on polarization within states. We find that income inequality has a large, positive and statistically significant effect on political polarization. Economic inequality appears to cause state Democratic parties to become more liberal. Inequality, however, moves state legislatures to the right overall. Such findings suggest that the effect of income inequality impacts polarization by replacing moderate Democratic legislators with Republicans.
Related:
Opinion: Three reasons political polarization is here to stay
Source: Jane Mansbridge, Washington Post, March 11, 2016

….Three major structural changes — gradual party realignment, closer elections and inequality — largely explain the huge decline in the numbers of party members willing to vote for legislation that the other party has sponsored, and in particular the number of Republicans willing to vote for measures the Democratic Party has sponsored. None of these causes is likely to change….

…..Nolan McCarty and his colleagues at Princeton are beginning to tease out the mechanisms. In state politics, they find that states with increasing income inequality experience two polarizing effects. First, state Republican parties shift to the right overall. Second, state Democratic parties shift to the left because their moderates lose. Rich Republican donors could well be responsible for both outcomes if, as seems likely, they fund more extreme candidates in Republican districts and target the Democrats they have the best chance to dislodge, namely those in politically moderate districts.

The big picture is that the extraordinary growth in incomes at the top of the income distribution makes possible the discretionary money that can then be poured into politics, and those who contribute to politics are, on average, a good deal more extreme in their views than the average voter….