Shaun Bowler

Shaun Bowler
University of California, Riverside | UCR · Department of Political Science

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205
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Publications

Publications (205)
Article
The literature on comparative political institutions highlights a tradeoff between majoritarian/plurality and proportional/consensus models of democracy. The former arrangement is said to enhance party responsibility and single-party accountability. The latter promotes representation of a range of parties offering voters clear choices, with a coali...
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A large literature shows that citizens care about the procedural fairness of rules and institutions. This body of work suggests that citizen evaluations of institutional changes should be constrained by fairness considerations, even if they would personally benefit from the reforms. We test this expectation using two panel studies to examine whethe...
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There is perennial debate in comparative politics about electoral institutions, but what characterizes this debate is the lack of consideration for citizens' perspective. In this paper, we report the results of an original survey conducted on representative samples in 15 West European countries (N = 15,414). We implemented an original instrument to...
Article
Can voters in multi-party systems predict which coalition will form the government with any degree of accuracy? To date, studies which explore voter expectations of coalition formation have emphasized individual level attributes, such as education, but the context of information that voters experience at the time the coalitions are forming should a...
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We test hypotheses about individual-level (partisanship and self-interest), and state-level factors (tax policy) that may shape public attitudes about raising taxes. Respondents were given a scenario where a state budget needed to be balanced with spending cuts or tax increases, and a scenario where either state sales or state income taxes would be...
Article
Can voters learn meaningful information about candidates from their electoral campaigns? As with job market hiring, voters, like employers, cannot know the productivity of candidates, especially challengers, when they elect them. The real productivity of representatives only reveals itself after the election. We explore if the information revealed...
Chapter
Electoral laws are often regarded as the key factors structuring party competition. Yet, despite having very similar electoral systems, reflecting a shared colonial legacy, the United States (U.S.) and Canada have had very different party systems. For the past 100 years, the U.S. is perhaps the most consistently two-party system among the world’s m...
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Political participation is often conceived of as a largely individual act. In this paper we emphasize the context in which that choice is made: features of that context make some choices more likely than others both in terms of the decision to participate but also in terms of the kinds of participation in which to engage. In particular, we examine...
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We examine the gap between perceptions of seeing referendums as an important democratic principle, versus perceiving how referendums are used in practice. We term this the “referendum disappointment” gap. We find support for referendums as a democratic principle is strongest among those most disaffected from the political system, and that the disaf...
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Economic and cultural factors are often presented as alternative explanations of Brexit. Most studies have failed to recognize the interplay between contextual economic factors and individual attitudes such as nativism and Euroscepticism. We argue that both economic and cultural factors matter to explain the outcome of the referendum. Economic fact...
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We examine how voters form expectations about the policy positions of coalition governments. The literature generally assumes that voters believe the influence of coalition parties on government policy is proportional to the coalition parties’ sizes. Yet little is known about whether, or how, voters form such expectations. In this paper, we leverag...
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We model attitudes about Congress as structured by perceptions of campaign finance. Attitudes about unlimited corporate and union spending are modeled as structured by knowledge about Congress. We find people with more factual knowledge of Congress were more likely to view unlimited independent corporate and union spending as having improper influe...
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Public opinion on high-visibility election rules can be expected to reflect elite-level party divisions. We explain how partisanship affects support for, and opposition to, low-visibility convenience voting reforms. We find state-level factors such as quality of polling-place voting and party polarization explain some variance in support. However,...
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Many electoral systems constrain voters to one or two votes at election time. Reformers often see this as a failing because voters' preferences are both broader and more varied than the number of choices allowed. New electoral systems therefore often permit more preferences to be expressed. In this paper we examine what happens when cumulative voti...
Article
The Mexican Constitution, in the Poder Legislativo, grants state legislatures the authority to introduce legislation (iniciativas de ley) in the federal congress. In this paper the authors examine this powerful mechanism through which the Mexican state legislatures can directly influence policymaking at the federal level. Using a new data set of st...
Book
Theories about the decline of legitimacy or a legitimacy crisis are as old as democracy itself. Yet, representative democracy still exists, and the empirical evidence for a secular decline of political support in established democracies is limited, questionable, or absent. This lack of conclusive evidence calls into question existing explanatory th...
Chapter
Every democratic process short of unanimity produces opinion minorities. Political divisions along anchored demographic characteristics like language, religion, race, or ethnicity challenge pluralist models of governance by threatening to entrench the exclusion of minority groups from political power. Especially when attuned to ethnic geography, el...
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Right-wing populist parties tend to combine criticism of how liberal democracy functions with calls for greater direct democracy. But do their voters share that support for direct democracy? In this article, survey data is used to examine, first, whether right-wing populist candidates in Australia, Canada and New Zealand were more supportive of dir...
Article
Scholars of coalition politics have increasingly begun to focus on conflict within coalitions. Here we examine the role of coalition agreements in managing intracoalitional conflict. We argue that there is a trade-off between making policy agreements at the coalition’s formation (e.g., by making very detailed policy platforms) and postponing the is...
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Many Americans think campaign money has a corrupting influence on Congress. Yet how they think about money in politics is a relatively unexplored topic. This article investigates how the public reasons about campaign money and corruption. Our survey experiments demonstrate that attitudes about campaign money are structured by partisan interest and...
Article
A large body of aggregate-level work shows that government policies do indeed respond to citizen preferences. But whether citizens recognize that government is responsive is another question entirely. Indeed, a prior question is whether or not citizens value responsiveness in the way that academic research assumes they should in the first place. Us...
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We propose a model of public response to politicized election reform. In this model, rival partisan elites send signals on the need and consequences of a proposed reform, with partisans in public adopting those positions. We apply this to test how state use of voter identification laws corresponded with public evaluations of the conduct of a state’...
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This research note re-examines the evidence for the claim that political group cohesion has risen over time in the European Parliament. We first demonstrate that political group cohesion has always been high in the EP and one of the principal reasons for this is owing to the large number of lopsided votes that take place. We next demonstrate that o...
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Serving on a jury is both a right and a legal obligation for democratic citizens; however, the response rate to jury summonses is low in most jurisdictions. In collaboration with the Riverside (CA) County Superior Court, we conducted a randomized control trial in which we mailed various postcard reminders to citizens who had recently received a sum...
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A large literature examines the composition of cabinets in parliamentary systems, but very little attention has been paid to the size of those cabinets. Yet not only is the size of the cabinet related to the division of portfolios that may take place, cabinet size is also related to policy outcomes. In this article, a theory of party size is consid...
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This paper examines the question of what shapes a voter's sense of duty to vote. We begin with a standard model of turnout at the 2011 British electoral system referendum. We show that the respondent's assessment of whether it is a citizen's duty to vote on referendums adds substantial explanatory power to a basic model of turnout. From here we mov...
Book
Contents 1. The Promise and Politics of Electoral Reform 2. Institutional Change and Citizens 3. Arguments for Change - Partisan Interests and Expectations about Process 4. Assessing Effects of Reforms: Changing the Electoral System 5. Campaign Finance Reform: A Collection of Null Results 6. Term Limits: Effects, But Not as Advertised 7. Direct Leg...
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Elections send ambiguous signals to the political system, particularly when interpreting the meaning of various “nonvotes” (e.g., abstention, ballot spoiling, and roll-off). While a “none of the above” (NOTA) option may allow voters to better signal discontent, how NOTA voting is used is not well understood. The authors’ analysis of all races in Ne...
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Using research on the initiative as a point of comparison, we consider how frequently and for what ends state legislators use the referendum. Akin to initiative use, we find that legislators are constrained by procedural hurdles in their ability to place referendums on the ballot. However, in contrast to research on the initiative, which emphasizes...
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Political actors typically use language with the goal of persuading an audience. But what shapes the use of language in political settings? Is it differences between ideologues — liberals and conservatives — that change language use? Or is it support or opposition to the issue? Using techniques adapted from cognitive psychology we examine arguments...
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This paper draws on the legislative politics literature to explain the composition of commission assignments in the Mexican Chamber of Deputies. Members are elected to the chamber via a mixed method electoral system. Grounded in the argument of an ‘electoral connection’ and based on experiences in the German Bundestag, New Zealand, Japanese and Sco...
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Rules governing the conduct of elections have important consequences for democratic politics, and much can be learned from studying changes in electoral rules. Instances of change (or reform) allow us the possibility of examining how (or whether) new rules might create different outcomes. The authors consider the effects of two major changes in ele...
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This article asks why, and when, the process of nominating candidates in the United States changed from conventions to direct primaries. We conduct an event history analysis to investigate rival explanations for why the rules governing nominations changed. One credits reformist pressures that were largely external to the interests of the major poli...
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Rules governing the conduct of elections have important consequences for democratic politics, and much can be learned from studying changes in electoral rules. Instances of change (or reform) allow us the possibility of examining how (or whether) new rules might create different outcomes. We begin with a discussion of how electoral reform might occ...
Chapter
Between March 10 and May 1, 2006, millions took part in the single largest coordinated protest action in American history. The marches should not be dismissed as one-off events but, rather, should be seen as examples of political action that allow us to explore the degree to which Latinos, and Latino immigrants, are alienated from the political sys...
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This article develops and tests a number of competing expectations (institutional, party and individual) about what influenced the campaign activity of individual parliamentary candidates for the 2004 European Parliament elections. The principal interest is in the effects of variations in the design of electoral institutions across the Member State...
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This article examines how electoral competition, in the form of district-level campaign expenditures, affects voters’ opinions about elections. We direct our attention at how voters perceive competition, and at how electoral competition affects how people perceive elections. Although people generally overestimate the competitiveness of U.S. House r...
Article
There have been two competing tropes regarding minority political identity in American society. In one, minorities-- African Americans and Latinos in particular--are suspected of being, at their core, un-American, by which we mean failing to reflect deeply rooted values regarding individualism and self-reliance. In the other, minority Democratic pa...
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Private Members' Bills are a small but significant part of the UK parliament's legislative work. Many are proposed but few pass into law. This article argues that Private Members' legislation has a broad analogy to constituency service behaviour. In making legislative proposals MPs can cast themselves as active and caring representatives and, in co...
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Whereas the classic literature on strategic voting has focused on the dilemma faced by voters who prefer a candidate for whom they expect has little chance of winning a seat, we consider the dilemma faced by voters in PR systems who do not expect their preferred party to be in government. We develop hypotheses relating to strategic voting over mult...
Article
This paper examines the reception given to Duverger’s work by academics in Britain and America. Initially his work on political parties attracted a great deal of attention from prominent scholars in the discipline. It was only later that his insight into electoral systems - now known as Duverger’s law - became more widely recognized. While Duverger...
Article
Party identification is a central concept in studies of parties and elections. Drawing from an extensive literature linking the concept of party identification to the understanding of Mexico's electoral politics, this article explores how the Mexican experience informs the understanding of party identification in general, especially in emerging dem...
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Since the US presidential election of 2000, a great deal of attention has been paid to the conduct of elections – most especially to the mechanics of voting and ballot counting. Less attention has been paid to how voters respond to the structure of elections more generally and the primary system in particular. In this paper we examine the extent to...
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This article provides an argument that other questions arise from the study of voting on ballot propositions that relate to the variety of voter preferences, how voter opinions are formed, and how voters think about democratic institutions. Although voting on some proposals may well be quite difficult and voting on many proposals may well tax the p...
Book
The Single Transferable Vote, or STV, is often seen in very positive terms by electoral reformers, yet relatively little is known about its actual workings beyond one or two specific settings. This book gathers leading experts on STV from around the world to discuss the examples they know best, and represents the first systematic cross-national stu...
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Why was direct democracy adopted in some U.S. states and not others? In this article, we sort through the various arguments advanced in the predominantly historical literature by using event history analysis. Among other factors we identify the importance of popular support for Populists and Socialists as well as the constraints imposed by state co...
Article
This article views electoral systems and electoral system change from an institutional perspective. This perspective lends itself to a rational actor framework that highlights the strategic choices made by voters and political elites. This article has a central organizing theme, which is the way Duverger's Law can be taken to be the canonical state...
Book
Maurice Duverger is arguably the most distinguished French political scientist of the last century, but his major impact has been largely in the English-speaking world. His book, Political Parties, first translated into English in 1954, has influenced both the party politics literature (which continues to make use of his typology of party organizat...
Chapter
Electoral reform in the US sees a great deal of experimentation in electoral reform at the local level but almost none at the national level. Explaining the lack of change in electoral institutions is quite difficult. Explanations grounded in a rational choice approach that compares the differing incentives facing electoral winners and losers and c...
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In this chapter we examine how both regulatory barriers and uncompetitive elections depress voter turnout. Given low levels of political interest it is unclear how much voter participation might increase even if regulatory barriers to registration and voting were removed. Voters uninterested in politics may simply not respond to the removal of regu...
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© 2007 Cambridge University Press A long tradition within political science examines the impact of party canvassing on voter participation. Very little of this work, however, is comparative in scope. This essay examines how system-level characteristics shape the nature and impact of party canvassing and how voters respond to those efforts. Parties...
Chapter
Most Americans live in a “hybrid democracy.” That is, they live where processes of both direct democracy and representative democracy coexist as part of state government (Garrett 2005, 2006). Yet, as Garrett notes, while studies of direct democracy and of state government are common, few authors examine the interaction between the two and their eff...
Chapter
Political parties are central actors in representative democracy. Although it is possible to have political parties without democracy, it does not seem possible—at least in the modern era—to have democracy without political parties.1 A major statement of idea is that of the responsible party government model (APSA 1950): strong, coherent, and persi...
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Widespread approval of direct democracy has been attributed to politically engaged citizens who seek more opportunities to participate in politics. Others suggest that people prefer a limited role in politics, but cynicism with representation leads them to embrace direct democracy. The authors analyze opinion in sixteen affluent democracies to test...
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This study assesses how the mass public reasons about political institutions by examining the effects of winning and losing on support for several electoral reform proposals. The national sample survey identified majorities supporting proposals for major changes in America's electoral institutions, and that suggested electoral losses may have a mod...
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This paper poses the question, why do voters seek to restrain political parties and candidates through institutional devices such as changing the primary system? A generation of political scientists have demonstrated that political parties provide a valuable mechanism linking voters and government, yet parties themselves are often held in low regar...