Category Archives: Politics

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.

Now Is a Good Time for Working People to Get Involved in Politics: An Interview with Liliana Rivera Baiman

Source: Meagan Day, Jacobin, September 27, 2019

Liliana Rivera Baiman is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), a working mother, an immigrant, and a community and union organizer who’s running for city council in Columbus, Ohio.

Jacobin’s Meagan Day spoke to Baiman about the power of a city council to fight for workers and unions, Baiman’s experience growing up in a co-op village in Mexico, how the labor movement activated her politically, and what working-class people deserve…..

20 Young People Explain How They Identify Politically and Why

Source: Teen Vogue, Across the Aisle, October 1, 2019

We aren’t born political animals. Figuring out a political belief system is something that takes time, and it’s a process deeply influenced by how our families talk (or don’t talk) about politics; the environments and historical moments in which we grow up; and the information we consume. Teen Vogue surveyed 20 people between ages 16-24 about how they identify politically and why. Here’s what they had to say.
Related:
Gen Z Is The Most Progressive — and Least Partisan — Generation
Source: Lauren Young, Teen Vogue, Across the Aisle, October 2, 2019

…..But in the decade since 2008, younger voters across the ideological spectrum have become more liberal and Generation Z is among the most progressive and diverse in the country’s history. On issues like sexism, racism, homophobia, and bigotry, research suggests that Generation Z has adapted a worldview that embraces more diverse viewpoints. As the country gears up for the 2020 elections, this shift by the Gen Z voters who, along with millennials, outvoted older generations in both the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 midterms, would seem to be a definitive boost for Democrats. But there is another important way Gen Z is setting themselves apart from previous generations and making their mark on 2020.

According to a Pew Research Center report prior to the 2016 election, 50% of young adults self-identified as political independents, although they were much more likely than older generations to hold liberal views on a variety of social and political issues. A poll conducted by the nonpartisan Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) among voters ages 18–24 shortly before the 2018 midterms found that while 56.4% of young people “chose to affiliate with” either the Democratic or Republican political parties, one-third, or 33.1%, identified as Independents — nearly as many as the 35.5% of young people who identified as Democrats and significantly more than the 20.9% who identified as Republicans…..

Tired of Two Parties? Here Are Seven Alternatives
Libertarians and Working Families and Prohibition, Oh My!
Source: Emily Bloch, Teen Vogue, Across the Aisle, October 2, 2019

….As the 2020 presidential election kicks into high gear, with debate bingo cards and drinking games making the rounds, it’s easy to feel like there are only two sides: Democrat or Republican.

The reality is that even though the donkey and elephant are the two major players, there are dozens of political parties throughout the country — from the Green Party to more obscure alternatives like the Mountain Party.

What may keep them from the spotlight shone on the two major political parties? Money, infrastructure, and access to the ballot.

….

Partisan divide creates different Americas, separate lives

Source: Robert B. Talisse, The Conversation, September 20, 2019

….It turns out that people’s physical communities, surroundings and lifestyles can be their own form of an echo chamber. This separation is so complete that it includes not only the communities and neighborhoods where people live, but also where people shop and what brands they buy, what sort of work they do, where they worship, what sorts of vacations they take and even how they decorate their homes…..