Category Archives: Politics

Bias and Judging

Source: Allison P. Harris, Maya Sen, Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 22, 2019
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From the abstract:
How do we know whether judges of different backgrounds are biased? We review the substantial political science literature on judicial decision making, paying close attention to how judges’ demographics and ideology can influence or structure their decision making. As the research demonstrates, characteristics such as race, ethnicity, and gender can sometimes predict judicial decision making in limited kinds of cases; however, the literature also suggests that these characteristics are far less important in shaping or predicting outcomes than is ideology (or partisanship), which in turn correlates closely with gender, race, and ethnicity. This leads us to conclude that assuming judges of different backgrounds are biased because they rule differently is questionable. Given that the application of the law rarely provides one objectively correct answer, it is no surprise that judges’ decisions vary according to their personal backgrounds and, more importantly, according to their ideology.

Partisan Bias in Surveys

Source: John G. Bullock, Gabriel Lenz, Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 22, 2019
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From the abstract:
If citizens are to hold politicians accountable for their performance, they probably must have some sense of the relevant facts, such as whether the economy is growing. In surveys, Democrats and Republicans often claim to hold different beliefs about these facts, which raises normative concerns. However, it is not clear that their divergent survey responses reflect actual divergence of beliefs. In this review, we conclude that partisan divergence in survey responses is often not due to sincere, considered differences of belief that fall along party lines—but determining what it due to is difficult. We review the evidence for possible explanations, especially insincere responding and congenial inference. Research in this area is still nascent, and much more will be required before we can speak with precision about the causes of partisan divergence in responses to factual questions.

Fostering Civic Health: An Analysis of the Generative and Mediating Activities of Community-Based Organizations

Source: Kandyce Fernandez, Robbie Robichau, Jennifer Alexander, The American Review of Public Administration, OnlineFirst, Published June 19, 2019
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From the abstract:
Civic engagement in U.S. political life has declined since the 1950s resulting in a deluge of studies that explore its causes and implications. Research to date has directed little attention to the institutional role of associations as the foundation for civic engagement in all of its forms. This article utilizes institutional theory as a lens to examine the ways in which community-based organizations (CBOs), in tandem with local government, foster civic engagement, and enhance representation in their communities. Through interview data obtained from stakeholders of 18 local education foundations (LEFs) in Florida, we examine the ways in which CBOs nurture civic health with client communities (generative role) and represent their interests in local policy arenas (mediating role). Based on the results of this initial study, we argue that greater attention should be directed to the relationships between CBOs and measures of civic health given their unique capacity to foster it. Results indicate the relationship between generative and mediating activities is such that CBOs’ engagement with client communities establishes the foundational knowledge necessary for representing their interests in the interorganizational arena. In addition, CBOs were found to establish both bridging and bonding capital in the interorganizational arena through their efforts to exert influence on behalf of client communities.

The Origins and Consequences of Affective Polarization in the United States

Source: Shanto Iyengar, Yphtach Lelkes, Matthew Levendusky, Neil Malhotra, Sean Westwood, Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 22, 2019
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From the abstract:
While previously polarization was primarily seen only in issue-based terms, a new type of division has emerged in the mass public in recent years: Ordinary Americans increasingly dislike and distrust those from the other party. Democrats and Republicans both say that the other party’s members are hypocritical, selfish, and closed-minded, and they are unwilling to socialize across party lines. This phenomenon of animosity between the parties is known as affective polarization. We trace its origins to the power of partisanship as a social identity, and explain the factors that intensify partisan animus. We also explore the consequences of affective polarization, highlighting how partisan affect influences attitudes and behaviors well outside the political sphere. Finally, we discuss strategies that might mitigate partisan discord and conclude with suggestions for future work.

The Politics of Rulemaking in the United States

Source: Susan Webb Yackee, Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 22, 2019
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From the abstract:
Rulemaking is a critical part of American government and governance. This article reviews the political underpinnings of modern rulemaking. Specifically, it highlights the process and impact of agency regulations, as well as the key tools used by the legislature, elected executive, and courts to oversee the rulemaking process. The article also reviews who participates in the rulemaking process, as well as who influences regulatory content. Finally, new directions in regulatory policymaking are explored, including data collection advancements, as well as the potential role for guidance documents as replacements for more traditionally issued notice and comment regulations.

How American Women Are Amplifying Their Political Power

Source: Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, June 25, 2019

Alicia Garza’s phone never stops ringing. The Black Lives Matter co-founder now leads Supermajority, a women’s political-training organization, along with a roster of female organizers including Cecile Richards, the former Planned Parenthood Federation of America president. The two have dedicated their efforts to building women’s political power in the U.S., a mandate that means near-constant communication with interested folks across the country. ….

Related:
Breaking Barriers: Women Defining Leadership
Source: Aspen Ideas Festival, Session, 2019

In every field — business, politics, science, tech, and sport — women are breaking barriers in unprecedented numbers. Women CEOs frequently outpace their male counterparts in delivering profits, women are at the forefront of scientific research (CRISPR, anyone?), and women coaches exceed expectations for leading teams … of men. As more women have taken up posts in DC than in any time in our history, are women experiencing a “moment,” or have the pressures for gender equality and compensation finally achieved results? Remarkable leaders from diverse backgrounds share their views on what it means to break barriers.

Why Women Now
Source: Aspen Ideas Festival, Session, 2019

In the post #MeToo era, the potential to shift women’s political, economic, and philanthropic power is profound. How will this activism be harnessed to fundamentally change our nation’s course? What is the agenda for women going into the 2020 elections? Can a broader consensus in support of women’s issues be mobilized? Fundamental concepts of diversity and inclusion are being crafted in whole new ways by corporate leaders who are responding to cultural pressures and market opportunities. Where will this momentum for an inclusive and diverse agenda lead and who will lead it?

The most unpopular presidential election winner ever could win again in 2020

Source: Liberty Vittert, Brendan Lind, The Conversation, June 10, 2019

…According to FiveThirtyEight, the day Trump stepped into the White House, he had only a 45.5% approval rating. This stands in stark contrast to Barack Obama, for example, who took office with a 68% approval rating.

Moreover, Trump has the lowest approval average in history, at only 40%. The next lowest is Harry Truman at 45.4%.

These data clearly show that Trump is the least-liked president in American history. With such unpopularity, how could he possibly win again?…

What would happen to Congress if Washington, DC became the 51st state?

Source: https://theconversation.com/profiles/dudley-poston-703355“>Dudley Poston, The Conversation, June 6, 2019

…. Statehood for the district has been opposed by Republicans in the past, mainly because the district is heavily Democratic.

About 76% of the registered voters in the district are Democrats, while just 6% are Republicans. Most of the others have no party affiliation, though a few are Libertarians or Green Party members.

This occurs even though, with over 700,000 residents, the district is larger in population than two states: Vermont and Wyoming. Two other states have just a few more residents than the district, Alaska with 737,000 people and North Dakota with 760,000.

But those four states each have one representative in the U.S. House and two senators. Washington, D.C. has neither a representative nor any senators. ….

…. What will happen politically if the district becomes the 51st state? How will the distribution of representatives and senators among the states change? The answers show why Republicans consistently vote against statehood for the district. ….

Conservatives Pushed a Strategy to Weaken Home Health Care Unions. The Trump Administration Bit.

Source: Rachel M. Cohen, Nick Surgey, The Intercept, May 31, 2019

Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced a new rule barring home health care workers from paying union dues through their Medicaid-funded wages. The new Department of Health and Human Services rule, which will impact more than 800,000 workers and was immediately met with a legal challenge, followed years of planning by anti-union activists to promote such measures in states across the country, and, more recently, on the federal level.

In anticipation of a crushing blow to public-sector unions by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer, conservative groups ramped up their efforts to bring the federal government’s attention to the issue of Medicaid-funded union dues, according to an audio recording obtained by The Intercept and Documented.

On an invitation-only call with donors last June, leaders with the State Policy Network — a corporate-backed umbrella group of right-wing think tanks across the country — raised the issue of directly deducting union dues from Medicaid-funded paychecks, what they call “dues-skimming.” Vinnie Vernuccio, a labor policy adviser to the State Policy Network told donors that its plan was to end this practice by getting “an administrative rule passed at Health and Human Services” and passing federal legislation with the assistance of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash…..

Gender Differences in Politician Persistence

Source: Melanie Wasserman, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) – Anderson School of Management, November 2018, Posted: May 9, 2019

From the abstract:
Why are women underrepresented in politics? This paper documents gender differences in the career paths of novice politicians by studying the persistence of candidates after they win or lose elections. I track the political trajectories of over 11,000 candidates in local California elections and use a regression discontinuity approach. Losing an election causes 50 percent more attrition among female than male candidates: an electoral loss causes men to be 16 percentage points less likely to run again within the next four years, whereas the drop for women is 25 percentage points. Yet the gender gap in persistence depends on the setting: I find no evidence of a gap among candidates for high female representation offices or among more experienced candidates. These results are inconsistent with behavioral explanations of women’s differential attrition. Instead, the results suggest that in low information environments, voters may penalize novice female politicians, which deters women from running again. I discuss the implications of the results for the gender gap in officeholding.