Category Archives: Elected Officials

How Democrats can win back workers in 2020

Source: Thomas Kochan, The Conversation, August 16, 2019

Labor unions and the workers they represent were once the heart and soul of the Democratic Party.

The 2016 presidential election revealed just how much that has changed. Hillary Clinton lost in key battleground states like Michigan and Wisconsin in part because she took labor support for granted.

A survey my team of labor scholars at MIT conducted about five months after the election showed that most workers feel they lack a voice at their jobs. Many Americans apparently felt that Donald Trump did a much better job than Clinton showing he was on their side and had a plan to help them.

As I watch the 2020 presidential debates, I wonder: Will Democrats make the same mistake? Or will they return to their roots and put the full range of workers’ needs and aspirations front and center in their campaigns?

Some of the candidates vying to be the 2020 nominee have offered plans to support organized labor, but they mainly endorse bills already in Congress to shore up collective bargaining rights. None have offered a clear vision and strategy for assuring workers have a voice in the key decisions that will shape the future of work.

This won’t be enough to give workers the stronger and broader voice at work they are calling for today.

In our 2017 survey, we learned two key things about what workers actually want…..

The Anti-Public Administration Presidency: The Damage Trump Has Wrought

Source: Charles T. Goodsell, The American Review of Public Administration, OnlineFirst, July 25, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
President Trump and his Administration have gravely damaged the institutions and values of American public administration. Harm has been done to the federal workforce, the policymaking process, the integrity of missions, agencies and programs, and the government’s relation to science.

The Courts Won’t End Gerrymandering. Eric Holder Has a Plan to Fix It Without Them.

Source: Ari Berman, Mother Jones, July/August 2019

While Democrats are fixated on 2020, Holder is fighting for fairer maps in 2021 and beyond. ….

….So Holder is pursuing a new strategy, trying to elect down-ballot candidates who can deliver fairer maps and voting laws. The NDRC invested $350,000 in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race, hoping that a liberal majority on the seven-­member court might strike down any egregious gerrymanders in the next round of redistricting in 2021. “I don’t think that 10 years or so ago, you would have a former attorney general campaigning for a state Supreme Court justice,” Holder told me. “This is a recognition on the part of the Democratic Party, on the part of progressives, that we need to focus on state and local elections to a much greater degree than we have in the past.”

But if Democrats are belatedly recognizing this need, few besides Holder are acting on it. He is playing a long game in a party driven by instant gratification and consumed by the mess in the White House. While the party’s presidential contenders are attracting big crowds, donors, and volunteers determined to defeat President Donald Trump in 2020, Holder is focused on 2021…..

Local Elections and Representation in the United States

Source: Christopher Warshaw, Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 22, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In recent years, there has been a surge in the study of representation and elections in local politics. Scholars have made progress on many of the empirical barriers that stymied earlier researchers. As a result, the study of representation and elections in local politics has moved squarely into the center of American politics. The findings of recent research show that local politics in the modern, polarized era is much more similar to other areas of American politics than previously believed. Scholars have shown that partisanship and ideology play important roles in local politics. Due to the growing ideological divergence between Democrats and Republicans, Democratic elected officials increasingly take more liberal positions, and enact more liberal policies, than Republican ones. As a result, despite the multitude of constraints on local governments, local policies in the modern era tend to largely reflect the partisan and ideological composition of their electorates.

Staff Pay Levels for Selected Positions in Senators’ Offices, FY2001-FY2018

Source: R. Eric Petersen, Raymond T. Williams, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R44324, June 11, 2019

Levels of pay for congressional staff are a source of recurring questions among Members of Congress, congressional staff, and the public. There may be interest in congressional pay data from multiple perspectives, including assessment of the costs of congressional operations, guidance in setting pay levels for staff in Member offices, or comparison of congressional staff pay levels with those of other federal government pay systems.

This report provides pay data for 16 staff position titles that are typically found in Senators’ offices. The positions include the following: Administrative Director, Casework Supervisor, Caseworker, Chief of Staff, Communications Director, Constituent Services Representative, Counsel, Executive Assistant, Field Representative, Legislative Assistant, Legislative Correspondent, Legislative Director, Press Secretary, Scheduler, Staff Assistant, and State Director.The following table provides the change in median pay levels for these positions, in constant 2019 dollars between FY2017 and FY2018

Staff Pay Levels for Selected Positions in House Member Offices, 2001-2018

Source: R. Eric Petersen, Raymond T. Williams, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R44323, June 11, 2019

Levels of pay for congressional staff are a source of recurring questions among Members of Congress, congressional staff, and the public.There may be interest in congressional pay data from multiple perspectives, including assessment of the costs of congressional operations, guidance in setting pay levels for staff in Member offices, or comparison of congressional staff pay levels with those of other federal government pay systems.

This report provides pay data for 15 staff position titles that are typically used in House Members’ offices. The positions include the following: Caseworker, Chief of Staff, Communications Director, Constituent Services Representative, Counsel, District Director, Executive Assistant, Field Representative, Legislative Assistant, Legislative Correspondent, Legislative Director, Office Manager, Press Secretary, Scheduler, and Staff Assistant. The following table provides the change in median pay levels for these positions in constant 2019 dollars,between 2017 and 2018…..

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. ….

19th Amendment: A century of pioneering women in US politics

Source: Kelly-Leigh Cooper, BBC, June 3, 2019

One hundred years ago – on 4 June 1919 – Congress approved the 19th Amendment to the US constitution guaranteeing the right of American women to vote.

The amendment was the product of decades of campaigning and slow progress since the first convention for women’s rights was held in Seneca Falls in 1848.

In the years since, women had been thrown in jail for voting illegally, organised pickets across the country and chained themselves to the White House demanding representation.

Rights were granted in a handful of, mostly western, states over the years but resistance remained. This amendment, officially ratified in 1920, prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex on a national level.

In 2019 the US has more women in national politics than ever before, but still falls well short of equality. These are the pioneers who have made history in the century since…..

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.