Category Archives: Elections

National data release sheds light on past polling place changes

Source: Carrie Levine, Pratheek Rebala, Matt Vasilogambros, Center for Public Integrity and Stateline, September 29, 2020

The first installment of a new national data release that will help journalists and researchers analyze polling place accessibility was released Tuesday as part of an investigative series, Barriers to the Ballot Box, from The Center for Public Integrity and Stateline. The data, posted to Github, includes polling place locations and addresses for 30 states for the 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 general elections, and is aimed at aiding reporting and research on the impact that polling place closures and changes could have on the 2020 election. Data for additional states will be added in the coming weeks.

Polling place reductions and changes can lower turnout by creating confusion and barriers for voters, potentially disenfranchising them. There is no national public dataset of polling place locations and addresses for past federal elections.

…The polling place location information, now in a usable data format, standardized and available to the public, can be used to track the movement and consolidation of polling places. Combined with other data, such as voter file data, it can shed new light on which voters were affected by the changes. …

…U.S. elections are administered by thousands of separate jurisdictions. Every state has different laws and deadlines governing voting, which can include unique requirements for polling places. Local authorities typically choose them based on a variety of factors.

Public Integrity and Stateline filed and tracked roughly 1,200 records requests to assemble the polling place location data.

In 12 states — Alabama, California, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming — data had to be obtained county by county for at least one of those elections….

Black Women Best: The Framework We Need for an Equitable Economy

Source: Kendra Bozarth, Grace Western, and Janelle Jones, Roosevelt Institute, Issue Brief, September 2020

From the summary:
This brief explains how centering Black women in US politics and policymaking in the short and long term will bolster immediate recovery efforts, build durable and equitable institutions, and strengthen collective prosperity.

How to Defeat Trump and Heal America: Deep Canvassing and Political Persuasion in the 2020 Presidential Election

Source: People’s Action, September 2020

From the executive summary:
People’s Action has completed the first-ever deep canvassing political persuasion experiment this month and the results are groundbreaking.

The independent analysis of our deep canvass phone program found that it had a substantial impact on decreasing Trump’s vote margin, estimated to be 102 times more effective per person than the average presidential persuasion program.

Related:
The Best Way to Beat Trumpism? Talk Less, Listen More
Source: Andy Kroll, Rolling Stone, September 15, 2020

This summer, with Americans hunkered down at home as the Covid-19 pandemic raged, teams of organizers located in a half-dozen battleground states made thousands of phone calls and put a theory to the test: Can an empathetic, heartfelt conversation persuade a complete stranger to change their mind about how to vote in 2020?

The experiment was led by People’s Action, a liberal nonprofit that focuses on mobilizing rural and low-income Americans, and it utilized a tactic known as deep canvassing, a form of grassroots organizing that puts more emphasis on listening and finding human connection than the traditional check-a-box door-to-door canvassing done by political campaigns.

The results of that experiment — shared with Rolling Stone ahead of their release on Tuesday — are striking: Even when done by phone, deep canvassing can indeed have a measurable effect on an individual’s voting preference. According to a study conducted by political-science professors David Broockman and Josh Kalla in partnership with People’s Action, this summer’s deep canvassing by phone led to a 3.1-point swing on average in favor of former Vice President Joe Biden. In other words, for every 100 completed phone calls, three votes were added to Biden’s vote margin after they received a deep canvassing call. That number was even higher for independents (5 points) and independent women (8.5 points), according to the study.

Manage Political Messaging Through Dress Codes

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Vol. 37 no. 18, September 1, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
During every presidential election, employers contend with employees who want to express support for their candidate through hats, buttons, t-shirts, and other apparel emblazoned with candidates’ names or slogans. Add in a new option for expression this year—face masks meant to protect workers and customers from COVID-19—and employers will need to decide what they are willing to permit.

Learning from Campaign Finance Disclosures

Source: Abby K. Wood, University of Southern California Gould School of Law, USC CLASS Research Papers Series No. CLASS20-10, Date Written: June 10, 2020

From the abstract:
In an age of dark money – the anonymous political spending facilitated by gaps in our campaign finance disclosure laws after Citizens United – the Supreme Court’s campaign finance disclosure jurisprudence may be on a collision course with campaign finance disclosure laws. The collision can be avoided if the court right-sizes its assumptions around the informational benefits of campaign finance disclosure. It is therefore urgent to help the court understand what we learn from campaign finance transparency.

Campaign finance transparency teaches us more than one-dimensional information about how progressive or conservative a candidate is. It also helps us learn about candidate type. As I explain in this Article, social scientists, including myself, have run several studies examining voter learning from campaign finance information. When voters learn about a candidate’s position with regards to dark money, they learn and vote differently than if they did not have that information. And, as I show using experimental methods and using data from the FEC audits in the 1970s, where campaign finance compliance information is available to voters, voters reward over compliance and punish failure to comply. In other words, transparency about campaign finance disclosure and compliance informs voters.

These findings point to useful policy innovations for states and cities while the federal government is unable or unwilling to regulate, such as “disclosure disclaimers” and campaign finance audits. I explain implications for the courts, campaigns, and policymakers, as well as limitations on the argument.

To the Victor Goes the Spoils: How the 2020 Presidential Election Could Reshape Labor and Employment Law

Source: Scott A. Budow, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 46, No. 2, Autumn 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The 2020 presidential election has the potential to significantly upend labor and employment law. If there is a change in administration, employers should expect a sharp departure from rules issued over the past four years, particularly with respect to overtime, joint employment, and independent contractors. Employers may additionally expect renewed scrutiny of non-compete agreements. These changes may redefine the relationship between employers and workers in vast segments of the economy.

Universal vote-by-mail has no impact on partisan turnout or vote share

Source: Daniel M. Thompson, Jennifer A. Wu, Jesse Yoder, and Andrew B. Hall, PNAS, first published June 9, 2020
From the abstract:
In response to COVID-19, many scholars and policy makers are urging the United States to expand voting-by-mail programs to safeguard the electoral process, but there are concerns that such a policy could favor one party over the other. We estimate the effects of universal vote-by-mail, a policy under which every voter is mailed a ballot in advance of the election, on partisan election outcomes. We find that universal vote-by-mail does not affect either party’s share of turnout or either party’s vote share. These conclusions support the conventional wisdom of election administration experts and contradict many popular claims in the media. Our results imply that the partisan outcomes of vote-by-mail elections closely resemble in-person elections, at least in normal times.

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….

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.