American Politics Research

Published by SAGE Publications
Print ISSN: 1532-673X
Due to the high level of uncertainty in the electorate about candidate issue positions, many scholars believe that voters instead use simpler cues such as personality traits to evaluate candidates. However, information about candidate personality traits is also subject to uncertainty. Using a new direct survey measure of uncertainty included in the 1995 and 1996 National Election Studies, we examine the effect of trait opinions on candidate evaluations and test the effect that uncertainty about those opinions has on the use of traits in an evaluation. We find that uncertainty about a candidate's personality traits reduces both the use of opinions about that candidate's traits in evaluations of that candidate and the overall evaluations of that candidate.
In this article, the authors examine two models of the electoral origins of divided government. One model is the policy-moderation model, advocated originally by Fiorina. The other model (proposed by Jacobson) focuses on the different expectations voters have concerning the legislative and executive branches of government, as well as the different electoral contexts in which voters make decisions. Using individual-level survey data, the authors test various hypotheses derived from each model. The empirical results give little support to the policy-moderation model. However, the second model has strong empirical support. The authors conclude with a discussion of their results in relation to empirical and normative studies of divided control of government.
The number of states with election-day registration (EDR) of voters doubled in the early 1990s, providing a new opportunity to estimate the turnout impact of EDR. Because of some important and neglected features of the "first wave" of EDR states, adopting EDR in the early 1970s, there is good reason to expect this "second wave" to generate larger estimates of EDR's turnout impact. Controlling for other factors, new EDR programs are associated with a turnout increase of about 6 percentage points in the midterm elections (1990 to 1994), and 3 percentage points in the presidential elections (1992 to 1996). Contrary to expectations, these estimates from the "second wave" of EDR states do not exceed those generated by studies of the “first wave” of EDR adoption.
This paper studies whether becoming an American citizen represents a major step toward the inclusion of Latino immigrants in the American polity. It compares the behavior of immigrants who have acquired citizenship with that of immigrants who are not willing or not eligible to become citizens, focusing on non-electoral political activities like contacting government officials and working to solve problems with others informally or through existing groups and organizations. The data analysis is based on recent survey data from the 2006 Latino National Survey (Fraga et al. 2006), and uses matching methods to control for the nonrandom selection of respondents into citizenship status. A sensitivity analysis is conducted to evaluate the robustness of findings to hidden bias. Results suggest that acquiring citizenship is only a small step toward the full inclusion of Latino immigrants in the democratic process.
Peer Reviewed
Under the acclimation effect view, recent appointees to the Court modify their behavior in systematic ways early in their tenure as opposed to their later decisional tendencies. Similarly, many studies have examined the chief justice’s unique behavior.This study blends these two rich strands and explores whether chief justices demonstrate an acclimation effect, such that their behavior changes systematically through time. Using more than a century of Court data, this study examines whether new chief justices’ concurrence and dissent rates decline and whether they write fewer individual opinions gradually. I find that the chief justice’s position serves to create an incentive structure that is uniquely associated with declining rates of specially concurring and dissenting votes in certain cases. Also, new chief justices pen fewer special concurrences and dissents in some policy areas. My results hence imply that the chief justice experiences unique acclimation effects in learning to marshal the Court.
The rise of television as Americans' primary news source has often been decried as a blight on representative democracy. In this article the authors outline three interpretations of media coverage of presidential campaigns. The authors dismiss the first of these (the "vast wasteland" interpretation) because it assumes, contrary to much existing evidence, that there is a fundamental difference between television and the print media in campaign coverage. The authors then undertake a content analysis of newspaper coverage of the presidential campaigns of 1888,1908, 1928, 1948, 1968, and 1988 as a test of the two remaining interpretations. According to the "videostyle" interpretation, television has revolutionized presidential campaigns and the way campaigns are covered. By contrast, the "the more things change ... " interpretation holds that, while television may have altered the style of presidential campaigns, it has not changed the substance of campaign coverage, which focused on hoopla and the horse race rather than on serious issues long before the arrival of television. The content analysis indicates some changes during the post-World-War-II era that are consistent with the "videostyle" interpretation, but over the full course of the last century these changes have been of quite a limited scope, consistent with the "the more things change ... " interpretation.
The frequency with which presidents issue executive orders is an important area of inquiry for students of executive politics, because this instrument can shape policy in a quick, direct manner that is outside the purview of the legislative arena. We construct a probabilistic-based empirical model that is used to explain variation in the number of presidential executive orders issued during the 1953-1994 annual period. Using event count regression techniques, these results indicate that the use of executive orders by presidents is significantly related to the legislative success they enjoy, the partisan composition of Congress, macroeconomic conditions, and the rate of growth in federal executive branch employment. The main implication of the study is that a president's willingness to issue executive orders is significantly related to a combination of legislative, public prestige, and managerial/institutional considerations. Thus, presidential use of executive orders is conditioned on different types of causal factors, and not solely attributable to the "institutionalized presidency" or legislative relations with Congress, as suggested in previous research on the topic.
Patterns of legislation are examined over a 24-year period and legislative outcomes are traced through the policy process of four states: Florida, Iowa, Michigan, and New Jersey. The findings indicate that legislators are drawn in large numbers to sponsor age-related bills. Legislative committees do most of the work in reducing these proposals to the eventual 10% to 27% that will pass. Floor action overturns an average of 3 % of all sponsored bills and governors veto over 4%. Gubernatorial vetoes are especially high when committees report out unusually high percentages of bills and resolutions. There is only slight evidence of state legislators who, as specialists, have a sustained interest in sponsoring and passing age-related legislation.
In this article a unique three-wave parent-youth panel study is used to examine partisanship change among native white Southerners from 1965 to 1982. The data suggest that Southerners have not moved away from the Democratic Party slowly and methodically as most crosssectional studies suggest. Many of the respondents in the panel demonstrated substantial volatility on the party identification scale across the three panel waves.
This article examines the relationship of election administration procedures, sociodemographic characteristics of the citizens, attitudes, and election situation characteristics to voter turnout in three midterm congressional elections. Turnout is consistently related to certain attitudinal and social characteristics in all three elections, while others vary in their association with turnout. Election administration procedures are of limited importance in accounting for turnout, while some of the electoral context variables have a significant impact on voting participation patterns.
Scholars argue that the social structural basis of the party system in the United States developed during the New Deal era has weakened, resulting in an increasing tendency for ideology to shape partisan support. We test this proposition by examining the role of ideology in the formation of partisanship in the United States over the last two decades. We find that, over the last 20 years, ideology has played an increasing role in shaping partisanship, one that cuts across traditional New Deal social group cleavages.
In this study the author seeks to understand responses to judicial policies where the consumer population (i.e., those most directly affected by the change in the policy status quo) have a variety of options available to them, including the option of doing nothing. On the basis of the "voluntary consumption" situation of lawyer advertising that was permitted by the Supreme Court decision in Bates v. State Bar of Arizona (1977), members of the consumer population are surveyed to determine their responses to the change in judicial policy. Competing utility and attitudinal and environmental theories are tested by estimating a logit model designed to predict advertising behavior by lawyers in the wake of the Bates decision. When theoretically distinct models are tested against one another, the attitudinal framework is most successful in predicting which potential consumers would become actual consumers. More research is necessary, however, to determine the ways in which these competing theoretical perspectives interact in shaping the decisions of potential consumers to become actual consumers.
This article investigates electoral feedback mechanisms in the 1980 presidential race. Unlike many election studies, that emphasize voters, I concentrate on candidates and their personal advisors. How do presidential contenders get feedback about their performances on the campaign trail? What lessons do they learn from campaign audiences? Using interviews, field observation, and a study of audience reactions to campaign speeches, I argue that campaigning is crucial to the link between leaders and the public. Candidates use campaigns to learn what is on the mind of voters (as do the media). These lessons influence candidate rhetoric and illustrate the importance of communications in presidential campaigns.
Percentage of Presidential Appearances by Race Rating Source: Compiled by author from the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States and CQ Weekly.
Presidential Visits by District Category, 1982-2010
Presidential Visits to Open Seat Districts, 1982-2010
Logit Models of Presidential Midterm Visits, 1982-2010
Due to limitations in both time and resources, presidents who wish to assist their copartisans’ electoral endeavors must make strategic choices when offering their assistance. Much research has attempted to explain why presidents devote their limited resources during a midterm election, yet we know little about the factors that lead to a presidential visit to a particular congressional district. Our research addresses this gap in the literature by narrowing the focus to the congressional district level. We ask the following: Are the same factors that lead to a presidential visit at the state level operational at the district level? The results suggest they are not. Moreover, we find that while presidents do indeed behave rationally when they make appearances for their copartisans, visits are more likely to occur when there are multiple higher-level competitive races in a district, and presidents are more likely to go where they are already popular.
To forecast presidential elections, I explore the dynamic of the vote ("time") and introduce a measure of candidate support that covers both the incumbent and the challenger. Stochastic models help identify the dynamic of the presidential vote as second-order autoregressive. The strength of the candidates is gauged by an index of electoral success in presidential primaries—in particular, whether the nominee won the first pnmary. Also included as a vote predictor is the economy, as measured by gross national product (GNP) growth and inflation in the election year. The forecasting equation predicts victory for Bill Clinton, with 57.1 % of the major party vote in November 1996. Time is on his side, in the sense that the autoregressive dynamic favors election of a presidential candidate whose party just captured the White House. But what predicts a comfortable margin is Clinton's edge in the candidate comparison, with the economy exerting little electoral pull this year.
Those observing the 2000 presidential campaign agreed that Ralph Nader could not win the presidency but disagreed about his actual strategy. Many Democrats contended that he was playing the role of “spoiler” in an attempt to attract attention or affect the election outcome. Others argued that he was trying to earn 5% of the popular vote to secure matching funds for the Green Party in the next presidential election. Count models find that Nader's travel schedule, unlike Gore's, was unresponsive to the closeness of the major-party race. Nader's appearances were driven primarily by opportunities for attracting a large number of voters, suggesting that earning 5% was indeed a central campaign goal. Data on television advertising produce a parallel result. This finding resolves an ongoing debate about Nader in particular, but also points to broader differences between major and minor-party campaign strategies.
This article takes advantage of a quasi-experiment in the 2006 Latino National Survey (LNS) to examine the effects of exogenous events on identity. Roughly halfway through the survey’s data collection, millions of Latinos mobilized to protest HR 4437, an immigration bill advancing in the U.S. Congress. This event provides the opportunity to examine differences in self-identification among comparable populations. I divide the LNS into a control group interviewed prior to these demonstrations and a treatment group interviewed after. My analysis shows respondents in the latter group were more likely to identify as American, with effects concentrated among Spanish speakers, and particularly Mexicans and Dominicans. I find no difference in identification as Latino or with one’s ancestral subgroup. These findings run contrary to the expectations of much existing literature, which assumes an increased sense of group threat results in heightened pan-ethnic sentiment across the Latino population.
Congressional superdelegate endorsements from March 1, 2007 to June 7, 2008  
Iowa political market prices for Obama and Clinton from March 1, 2007, to June 7, 2008  
Predicted probability of endorsing Obama and Clinton by Obama's electoral margin for three phases of the nomination season: (a) Before Iowa caucus, (b) After Iowa Caucus and before Super Tuesday, and (c) After Super Tuesday Note: The probabilities displayed in the figure represent the noncumulative predicted probability of endorsing the specified candidate on a given day during the nomination season. See Note 15 for discussion.  
Examining congressional superdelegate endorsements in the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, the authors show that changes in the political context affected the balance of factors in members’ decisions to endorse Clinton or Obama. Specifically, the national standing of the candidates became increasingly important—and local opinion less important—to Obama endorsements even as constituency views became a stronger influence over Clinton endorsements. The findings reveal how constituency considerations affect the elite endorsement choices that shape the presidential nominating process. In addition, the analysis highlights the ways in which members of Congress balance conflicting considerations in a changing political context when an issue plays out over an extended period.
Research indicates that, when engaging their opponents, strategic candidates will draw (and redraw) lines of conflict, pulling attention to their advantaged topics. But do these expectations hold up in debates, where candidates are at the mercy of those asking the questions? And do strategic debate behaviors matter? This study draws on past literature to hypothesize the specific types of agenda-control behaviors we should see in debates. These hypotheses are tested in the 2008 presidential debates, using quantitative content analysis to examine candidate agenda setting, issue framing, and tone. The results show that both Obama and McCain used all three means of agenda control to continually displace the line of conflict in their favor. These findings offer empirical support for theories of strategic agenda control and heighten our understanding of agenda setting, framing, and tone as agenda-control mechanisms. Additionally, media and public opinion data suggest these debate agenda-control behaviors had real effects during the 2008 election.
To examine the effects of the 2008 Obama campaign’s targeted media effort aimed at Latino voters, we married 2008 campaign media data from multiple sources to survey data on registered Latino voters in Nevada and Arizona to examine the specific impact of advertisement buys on that population. In the presence of controls, Obama’s media spending advantage over McCain had a significant and positive relationship with an Obama vote. When looking at local broadcast, cable and radio specifically, we find a significant relationship between spending differentials on local broadcast advertising and vote intention but not between spending differentials on radio and cable buys.
During the 2008 presidential election, the authors submitted letters to the editor at 100 major U.S. newspapers as part of a field experiment to test whether interest in the letter depended on which candidate the letter supported. The authors find, contrary to what charges of a liberal media bias would suggest, that newspapers expressed more interest in pro-McCain letters than pro-Obama letters. Furthermore, it was found that papers were most likely to be interested in letters supporting the candidate they did not endorse, a result that is consistent with the idea that editors seem to be using their gatekeeping powers to allow dissenting opinions to be heard.
This paper focuses on defectors in the 2008 presidential election to examine the behavioral consequences that arise when issue attention and affective partisan attachments clash. Consistent with issue ownership theory (Petrocik 1996), voters who placed greater weight on issues “owned” or successfully “leased” by their own parties were considerably more likely to stand pat. But in 2008, divisive issues like abortion, gay marriage and even the war in Iraq were crowded out by the economy. With data from the Cooperative Congressional Elections Study, I show the flagging national economy provoked defection among a considerable number of Republican identifiers. But rather than valence - was the economy better or worse - what mattered was the level of importance an individual placed on the economy. Meanwhile, greater weighting of the economy within the issue space reinforced Democrats’ partisan loyalties, although the effect was attenuated by coalitional strains lingering from their party’s bitter primary fight. The Republican Party was coming to the end of its 8-year lease on managing the economy, and with retrospections running overwhelmingly negative, voters from both parties with the economy on their minds were unwilling to grant an extension.
Constituency partisanship and party unity, 111th Congress Note: The data on party unity are from; the data on presidential vote are from
Partisanship and constituency for House Democratic subgroups Source: Blue Dog membership,; Progressive caucus membership, http://cpc; and NDC membership, Note: Trend lines are based on a bivariate regression.
Partisanship and constituency for House Republican subgroups Source: RSC,; Republican Main Street Partnership, http://www. Note: Trend lines are based on a bivariate regression.
Party unity by member and party, 2009 and 2010 a Endogenous variable. Instruments used: membership in the Blue Dog Caucus, Republican Policy Committee, and Progressive Caucus.
Effects of key votes on reelection vote share
This article applies the strategic parties framework to the 111th Congress and 2010 election results that followed. In 2009-2010, the Democrats pursued an ambitious agenda over the nearly unanimous opposition of Congressional Republicans, leading to a high level of partisanship on both sides. This partisanship was costly in the 2010 elections. Like other papers on this election, we find some evidence that key roll calls were linked to decreased electoral vote share. However, the clearer pattern is that overall patterns of partisanship had a consistent detrimental effect on incumbents running for reelection.
Many political pundits characterized the 2010 election as a referendum on President Obama’s health care reform law. The political science literature on issue voting, however, does not consistently demonstrate that these types of policy evaluations are central to citizens’ vote choices. Moreover, existing theories suggest different predictions about how the health care reform issue would affect elections across different levels of government. Studying data from the 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES), the analysis indicates that those opposed to health care reform were less likely to vote for Democratic candidates in the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, state gubernatorial, and state attorneys general contests, controlling for partisan affiliation, political ideology, perceptions of the economy, and evaluations of other salient policy issues. These findings suggest that, across the board, Democrats were penalized for their support of health care reform, and more generally provide evidence of the role of noneconomic issue voting in U.S. elections.
A primary goal of congressional elections is to create a link between constituent opinion and representative behavior. Explanations of congressional campaign agendas, however, have focused on national measures of issue salience and ownership, ignoring opinion within districts. Moreover, no study has systematically assessed the relative influence of issue salience and ownership. This article seeks to address these gaps using several public opinion surveys and a content analysis of 2010 House campaign websites. The analysis demonstrates significant across-district variation in citizens’ priorities and preferences, yet finds no discernible relationship between district opinion and campaign issue agendas. In contrast, the analysis suggests that campaign issue emphasis is positively associated with the issue’s national salience and party ownership, but salience appears to be the stronger predictor. Together, the results suggest that the 2010 candidates used their campaign issue agendas to forge a national strategy, rather than emphasize identification with their constituents.
We investigate the relationship between controversial roll call votes and support for Democratic incumbents in the 2010 midterm elections. Consistent with previous analyses, we find that supporters of health care reform paid a significant price at the polls. We go beyond these analyses by identifying a mechanism for this apparent effect: constituents perceived incumbents who supported health care reform as more ideologically distant (in this case, more liberal), which in turn was associated with lower support for those incumbents. Our analyses show that this perceived ideological difference mediates most of the apparent impact of support for health care reform on both individual-level vote choice and aggregate-level vote share. We conclude by simulating counterfactuals that suggest health care reform may have cost Democrats their House majority.
We investigate the links between 527s and other political organizations through the employment histories of 527 staff. We find that 527s are highly central to modern political party networks and are in positions to facilitate coordination within a party and to employ key party personnel. Further, we find important differences between the networks charted out by the two major parties. The Republican Party, the majority party during the period under study, had a more hierarchical network than the Democratic Party did.
The Mexican American electorate includes large numbers of immigrants as well as people of later generations. In this article, we test whether cross-generational acculturation shapes the ways in which Mexican American voters selected between John Kerry and George Bush in the 2004 presidential election. Although change across immigrant generations has long been a critical question in American political behavior, it is only with the current wave of immigrants and their U.S.-born children and grandchildren that it is possible to measure the relationship between acculturation and vote choice. With generational replacement, changes in the dynamics of vote choice across immigrant generations could herald long-term changes in the mechanisms of vote choice. We find that generation does shape Mexican American vote choice, both directly—in the simple measure of the generational dummy variables—and in the interaction between generation and partisanship, issue evaluation, religion, and state of residence.
A great deal of research focuses on contributions by political action committees (PACs) to candidates, but PACs are also institutional mechanisms for mobilizing contributions by individuals. Restrictions on the ability of PACs sponsored by businesses, trade associations, and labor unions to solicit contributions and the private benefits of contributing imply that these PACs are likely to mobilize donors who do not otherwise contribute to political campaigns. Analysis of itemized contributions to PACs during the 2004 election cycle confirms this. Moreover, the numbers of donors and dollars contributed to sponsored PACs aggregated by congressional district during 1996-2006 are relatively unaffected by electoral competition, presidential cycles, or changes in campaign finance regulations, and the effects of urbanization are less uniform than for nonconnected PACs. PACs sponsored by economic institutions therefore expand the pool of donors beyond the usual suspects.
Understanding how the Tea Party has affected congressional elections and roll call voting helps us understand not only an important political movement, but how movements affect politics more generally. We investigate four channels for the movement to influence political outcomes: activists, constituent opinion, group endorsement activity and elite-level self-identification. We find consistent evidence that activists mattered both electorally and for roll call voting on issues of importance to the movement. Constituent opinion had virtually no impact on either political outcome. Group endorsement activity had possible effects on elections, but mostly no effect on congressional voting. Self-identification among elites did not enhance—or harm—Republican electoral fortunes, but did affect congressional votes important to the movement. These divergent results illustrate how movement politics can influence outcomes through multiple channels and call into question the usefulness of the “Tea Party’’ moniker without important qualifiers.
Government Three articles, published in the leading journals of three disciplines over the last five decades, have each used the Poisson probability distribution to help describe the frequency with which presidents were able to appoint United States Supreme Court Justices. This work challenges these previous findings with a new model of Court appointments. The analysis demonstrates that the number of appointments a president can expect to make in a given year is a function of existing measurable variables.
Adjudications are an important, though understudied, means through which administrative agencies create policies that have a lasting impact. We argue that executive branch agency heads utilize their oversight of agency adjudications to advance agency goals. Relying on an original data set of adjudications appealed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s agency head’s adjudication delegee, our empirical results indicate a substantial positive effect on the probability that the agency head will reverse an administrative law judge (ALJ) when he receives the appeal of an antiagency ALJ decision. However, the agency’s adjudication oversight is conditional on political constraints, including partisanship differences between an agency and the litigated law and whether the case is being heard during a time of presidential transition. These results have clear implications for the use and effectiveness of agency adjudications as a political tool.
This article addresses the claim that the thickening of institutions in American national politics has reduced the capacity of partisan governing coalitions or regimes to introduce fundamental changes. We seek here to clarify what partisan regimes can accomplish under contem porary conditions. We find that in certain respects, regimes have acquired increased capacity for change by making use of the tools of the administrative presidency. In the two cases we study, the Reagan administration disrupted enforcement of pollution laws and transformed the national education agenda. The record of lasting accomplishments by the Reagan Republican regime, although underappreciated in the political science literature, indicates that regime builders in the modern era do not face intractable obstacles in the form of a thickened institutional context. What emerges from this analysis is a portrait of partisan regimes operatingin the modernpolitical environment that depicts them as effective, flexible but not omnipotent governing instruments.
The methods used to select public officials affect the preferences they bring to office, the incentives they face while in office, and, ultimately, the policy goals they pursue. We use a principal-agent framework to theorize about how the preferences and actions of local election officials differ depending on whether they are elected or appointed. We test these predictions with a dataset that includes the survey responses of 1,200 Wisconsin local election officials, structured interviews, census data, and returns from the 2008 presidential election. Drawing upon a natural experiment in how officials are selected, we find that, compared to appointed officials, elected officials express greater support for voter access and express less concern about ballot security and administrative costs. For appointed officials, we find that voter turnout in a municipality is lower when the local election official’s self-reported partisanship differs from the partisanship of the electorate, but only in cases where the official is a Republican.
This study investigates preadult learning about voting and its ability to convey wants and influence the government. Its framework is the Easton-Dennis (1969) socialization model. Past research has concentrated on vote socialization as a "support" input, whereas this work treats voting as a "demand" input. A survey was administered to a widely diversified sample composed of 1692 preadults from grades four through high school. Using both closed- and open-ended questions, it was found that preadults recognize and evaluate voting effectiveness to influence government. Effectiveness evaluations are quite diverse, although a simple majority in all groups believe voting can be effective to a degree. Respondents are also capable of contrasting voting effectiveness with other forms of participation. In comparison with other participations, voting is viewed by all age groups as a relatively less effective demand behavior.
Elections are intended to provide voters a means of exercising control over public policy, but the implications of some empirical studies are that variables having little policy rele vance are often important in understanding electoral outcomes. This study examines the relative impact of incumbency, candidate social status, method of recruitment, and electoral context to see whether they outweigh policy-relevant traits of candidates in deter mining success in a set of local school board elections. Opposition proves to be largely a function of incumbency, but in contested races policy-oriented variables appear to play a key role in determining outcomes.
In 1975, the power of the purse was set within a new congressional budget process. Taxing and spending decisions that previously had been handled in a piecemeal and uncoordinated fashion became subject to comprehensive congressional budget resolutions that set fiscal policy and spending priorities. This represented an important change in executive-legislative relations. It also created, however, another arena for House-Senate conflicts over control of the purse. This article examines the conflicts that subsequently have emerged and how they have been resolved by House-Senate conference committees. It suggests that institutional theories about the House and Senate do not satisfactorily explain budget conference outcomes. Strategic advantages associated with preconference positions must be taken into account, as well.
Despite the Supreme Court’s acceptance of disclosure requirements, some donors have been able to remain anonymous through a combination of regulatory gaps, complicated financing schemes, and lags in when information is made public. As a first examination of the potential consequences of increased anonymity in political advertising we designed an experiment that varied the amount and format of information about the interests behind an attack ad sponsored by an “unknown” group. We find that participants were more supportive of the attacked candidate after viewing information disclosing donors, suggesting that voters may discount a group-sponsored ad when they have more information about the financial interests behind the message. We also find some evidence that the effect of disclosure depends on how campaign finance information is presented. Our study has implications for how (to this point, failed) congressional efforts to require greater disclosure of campaign finance donors may affect electoral politics.
The experimental literature on voter mobilization establishes the efficacy of canvassing as a tool of voter mobilization. However, the current literature gives scant attention to the question of whether some types of canvassers may be more effective than others. This article takes the first step toward developing a positive theory of effective or ineffective canvassing. Using descriptive, qualitative data from 10 focus groups conducted in 2006, I find that voters have preferences for the types of campaign representatives they want to visit them. The results of these focus groups lay the groundwork for further experimental study and provide guidelines for practitioners instituting get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts.
The role played by lawyers in setting appellate court agenda as part of an interactional policy process unique to judicial policy-making is a neglected research area among students of the judicial process. The research reported here is an explanatory first step in ascertaining those factors which affect lawyers' decisions to appeal cases beyond the Federal District Court to the U.S Court of Appeals and to the U.S. Supreme Court. The data are gleaned from responses to a questionnaire sent to a sample of lawyers who had practiced before the U.S. Court of Appeals during 1972. The results suggest a considerable degree of consensus among these lawyers as to the relative importance of various factors in the appellate choice, yet significant differences do emerge among these lawyers by virtue of legal value perspectives which are of importance to the agenda-setting task.
Activists and scholars argue that the election and presence of Black mayors increase Black political engagement; however, later research suggests that this diminishes over time. Furthermore, a body of research suggests that homogenous racial contexts and contextual poverty decrease political participation. In this article, we ask one question: How does demographic context and length of Black mayoral tenure influence Black political participation? Using a national data set of Black respondents, we find that participation increases as cities become “Blacker.” However, simultaneously we find diminishing returns to Black political empowerment, particularly compared with new Black empowerment contexts.
American opinion on immigration reform by race and class, 2006 PEW.  
Predicted probability of support for restrictive immigration policies by class membership among African Americans and Whites, 2006 PEW.  
Logistic Regressions for White Opinion on Immigration Reform, 2006 Pew Center Survey
Predicted probability of support for increased federal role in employment verification by class membership and self-interest among African Americans, 2006 PEW.  
Predicted probability of support for amending the constitution by class membership and self-interest among White Americans, 2006 PEW.  
Alongside the growth of the immigrant population has been a corresponding backlash by citizens who increasingly support restrictive immigration policies aimed at undocumented immigrants. Much of what we know about this backlash is based on data from White Americans. Are African Americans among the growing segment of anti-immigrant supporters? Employing data from the 2006 Pew Center “America’s Immigration Quandary Survey,” I uncover that African Americans support restrictive immigration policies, and that class membership alongside subjective and objective measures of self-interest influence these policy stances. These findings challenge prior assertions that self-interest does little to account for American public opinion, demonstrating that on the issue of immigration reform that self-interest matters for African Americans.
Past work emphasizes the decline of cognition into older age. Recent work suggests that living in an aged community provides ample opportunity for social interaction with peers and that these older residents perform better cognitively than more isolated seniors. I test whether this relationship is evident for the political cognition of older residents with NAES data from 2000 and 2004. Findings indicate higher levels of political knowledge among seniors living in aged communities compared with their peers living in places without the same social context.
What determines state success when petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court for review? We suggest that states can improve the likelihood of securing Supreme Court review by coordinating litigation efforts. This coordination occurs in two ways. First, some states coordinate their appellate litigation efforts internally through the creation of state solicitors general offices. Second, external coordination occurs when states join amicus briefs at the agenda setting stage urging the Supreme Court to grant review in state-filed cases. Using new data on all state-filed certiorari petitions from the 2001-2009 terms, we find that internal and external coordination is associated with an increased likelihood of the Supreme Court granting review in state-filed cases.
Recent scholarship has questioned the familiar characterization of congressional voting as unidimensional (Crespin and Rohde 2007; Roberts et al. 2008). We build on these efforts by showing how a simple type of agenda control can suppress a latent second dimension. We argue that attempts to keep the majority party unified can lead to the estimation of more vertical cut lines and prevent the revelation of ideological differences along a second dimension. We evaluate this argument by examining the relationship between cut line angles and various measures of party control for all recorded roll call votes in the House of Representatives from 1875 to 1997. We also examine the relationship between measures of a second dimension and majority party unity in congress level regression. Our findings help to explain why a single dimension might explain a large amount of the variance in voting data when latent ideology is multidimensional.
Odds Ratios (Robust Standard Errors) From Multinomial Logit Analysis of Committee Reporting and Floor Passage of Issues in the House and Senate With Baseline = House and Senate Action
We examine why a significant proportion of the policy issues passed in either the U.S. House or Senate often fail to pass in the other chamber. We hypothesize that much of this failure of the House and Senate to coordinate their agendas occurs because committee jurisdictions are not parallel across chambers. To compare House and Senate agendas, we develop a comprehensive issue-level data set covering all bills introduced in the 103rd Congress. We estimate a multinomial logit model that reveals that the degree of jurisdictional parallelism across chambers is indeed one of the most important determinants of whether issues that pass in one chamber also pass in the other chamber.
How do campaigns decide what issues to emphasize for voters? According to most studies, campaigns rely on factors outside of their control—issue salience, party issue ownership, and district ideology. In this article, I argue that campaign messages are designed primarily based on the candidate. I examine the issue content of campaign advertisements from U.S. House and Senate campaigns from 2000 to 2004 and develop a measure that determines if candidates have developed a reputation on a particular issue. When candidates have developed such a reputation, their campaign is more likely to highlight that issue to voters than campaigns whose candidate has not developed such a reputation. This relationship is consistent across most issues and across two different measures of a campaign’s issue agenda.
This article analyzes shifts in public opinion on presidential approval surrounding certain salient international events. It estimates the relative size of approvers, disapprovers, and neutral respondents in Gallup polls who shifted to other responses in polls before and after the events. This is done by analyzing all possible nonnegative, integer solutions to the 3 × 3 tables representing the pre- to postevent change. By examining the relations among cell values in all the solutions, it is shown that most of the increase in support accruing to the president comes from those who had disapproved of his performance before and not from those who held no opinion.
Top-cited authors
Eric Uslaner
  • University of Maryland, College Park
Virginia Gray
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Jonathan S. Morris
  • East Carolina University
Jody C Baumgartner
  • East Carolina University
Jan E. Leighley
  • American University Washington D.C.