Samuel Kernell's research while affiliated with University of California, San Diego and other places

Publications (32)

Article
Common to both political folk wisdom and political science is the idea that the mid-term congressional election is a referendum on the performance of the current administration. The more popular a president and the more successful his policies, the better his party does at the midterm. The president's party almost invariably loses some congressiona...
Preprint
While scholars have long noted presidential powers over congressional lawmaking arising through persuasion, veto bargaining, and public appeals, we argue that an important tool is missing from this list. Specifically, presidents who are strategic in their choices of early coalition partners in Congress – such as effective sponsors of administration...
Article
According to the conventional view, presidents are largely bereft of influence with an opposition-controlled Congress. Congress sends them legislation with a “take it or leave it” choice that maximizes the preferences of the opposition majority while minimizing presidents’ preferences. To extricate themselves from this bind, presidents threaten vet...
Article
This article introduces two newly available sources of data on presidents’ legislative programs. The first consists of administration legislative initiatives cleared by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for submission to Congress. We refer to these records as “OMB logs” because they record OMB’s clearance actions on executive‐branch legisla...
Article
Veto threats may offer presidents bargaining leverage, but such leverage will be diminished if they and those with whom they transact business view a veto as hurting the president’s approval rating and his party’s prospects in the next election. How concerned must presidents be about the audience costs associated with a veto? Political science rese...
Article
Riders to appropriations bills have long been a favorite congressional instrument for forcing presidents to accept unwanted policies. To resist unwanted riders, presidents have increasingly resorted to veto threats. Are such threats credible, and do they influence legislation? To answer these questions, we analyze the legislative histories of hundr...
Book
This book explores the fascinating and puzzling world of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American elections. It examines the strategic behavior of nineteenth-century party politicians and shows how their search for electoral victory led them to invent a number of remarkable campaign practices. Why were parties dedicated to massive voter mob...
Article
Full-text available
Presidents' audiences have been shrinking over time. Prior research suggests that the rise of cable television is to blame. We investigate whether this shrinkage is occurring disproportionately among those the president most needs to persuade—disapprovers of his performance. Analyzing both A. C. Nielsen's audience ratings and self-reports of speech...
Article
The 1974 election was a disaster for the Republican party. Republicans suffered a net loss of 43 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, reducing their share to less than one third. The nationwide vote for Republican congressional candidates-41.1 percent-was the lowest for any party in this century. The party's misfortune was pervasive; state-l...
Article
Analysis of the ABC News/Washington Post Congressional District Poll and related data demonstrates that voting in 1986 elections to the U.S. House of Representatives was strongly affected both by the strength of nonincumbent candidates (measured by campaign spending) and by voters' opinions on national issues. Moreover, strong candidacies and issue...
Article
During periods of divided government, presidents commonly enlist veto threats in an effort to alter the policy content of legislation in Congress. Whether such rhetoric can achieve its intended purpose is far from clear. Indeed, theory, classifying threats as "cheap talk", judges the president's potential influence to be minimal. In this paper we s...
Article
[enter Abstract Body]One of the most frequently noted historical trends in the study of America's institutional development is the steady growth of careerism in Congress. From the 1850s until the end of the century, the percent of members of the House of Representatives entering the chamber for the first time declined from 60 to 24 percent. Numerou...
Article
The modern history of divided government in America suggests that the framers succeeded in creating a government unresponsive to popular passions. Yet in the nineteenth century the party winning the presidency almost always captured control of the House of Representatives. Why and how could nineteenth century national elections be so responsive tha...
Article
The modern history of divided government in America suggests that the framers succeeded in creating a government unresponsive to popular passions. Yet in the nineteenth century the party winning the presidency almost always captured control of the House of Representatives. Why and how could nineteenth century national elections be so responsive tha...
Article
Presidents have become their parties' chief fund-raisers and thus have the capacity to further their parties' collective fortunes by imposing a more efficient distribution of campaign resources than might otherwise prevail. In order to succeed, presidents must, first, accurately target their efforts where they will best improve candidates' prospect...
Article
Battles over the federal budget have been at the heart of Washington politics over the past two decades. In assessing the potential consequences of fiscal policy choices, Congress and the president turn to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for spending and revenue estimates. While politicians carp a...
Article
During roughly the half-century straddling the turn of the twentieth century, America’s national government underwent a dramatic transformation. It proceeded on two fronts, politics and administration. At the beginning of the era, politicians were deeply enmeshed in a system of patronage and graft reflecting their indebtedness to the local and stat...
Article
During roughly the half-century straddling the turn of the twentieth century, AmericaÕs national government underwent a dramatic transformation. It proceeded on two fronts, politics and administration. At the beginning of the era, politicians were deeply enmeshed in a system of patronage and graft reflecting their indebtedness to the local and stat...
Article
Candidates covet votes. They exert extraordinary effort and expend vast resources seeking to win as many votes as possible. Yet, the costly pursuit of votes occurs under great uncertainty concerning both the strategic correctness of their positions on issues and the efficiency of their campaigns. Of course, prudent candidates dedicate some resource...
Article
Students of American political development portray the transformation of the bureaucracy from patronage to service as the handiwork of progressive presidents. In this article we explore Congress' programmatic contribution to the transformation of the bureaucracy. Specifically, we examine the development of rural free delivery (RFD) during the 1890'...
Article
For the past 30 years, presidents have enlisted prime-time television to promote their policies to the American people. For most of this era, they have been able to commandeer the national airwaves and speak to "captive" viewers. Recently, however, presidents appear to be losing their audiences. Two leading explanations are the rise of political di...
Article
In recent years presidential charges of maltreatment by the press have become commonplace. Various scholarly research into political communication appears to confirm the validity of these charges. However, a number of issues prevent one from inferring bias from the high levels of unfavorable presidential news these studies report. The research repo...
Article
However successful some recent presidents have been in exploiting their newsworthiness to define the national agenda and promote their politics before Congress, the available evidence suggests that npresidents have enjoyed an advantage in press coverage over Congress throughout the twentieth century. The research reported here extends the comparati...
Article
What factors best account for the 1974 congressional election results? Were the Democratic party gains in House seats due mainly to the behavior of “strategic politicians” who sought or accepted candidacies and raised effective campaign war chests? Or were the Democratic gains due more to the impact of Watergate and the economy on voters’ choices?...
Article
When Alexis de Tocqueville toured America in the 1830s, he found Washington occupying a lowly position in the political life of the country. In a footnote, Democracy in America informs the European reader, “America has no great capital city where direct or indirect influence is felt over the whole extent of the country.” Throughout the book, he exp...
Article
Common to both political folk wisdom and political science is the idea that the mid-term congressional election is a referendum on the performance of the current administration. The more popular a president and the more successful his policies, the better his party does at the midterm. The president's party almost invariably loses some congressiona...
Article
Within the last ten years a new conventional wisdom has surfaced in political science which tells us that presidents inexorably become less popular over time. Not much else matters. Neither the economy, nor the Vietnam War, not even Watergate seems to have had much independent effect on presidential popularity once time is taken into account. Befor...
Article
The growing careerism of congressmen at the turn of the century has been widely viewed as a chief cause for the modernization of the House of Representatives. Thus, a prominent concern of recent research in congressional development has been the reasons for career development at that time. In this paper I attempt to distinguish the effects of three...
Article
Midterm congressional elections have been generally viewed as relatively sterile affairs marked by reduced turnout, party voting, and the play of politically idiosyncratic forces such as friends-and-neighbors voting. The usual reduction in the number of seats controlled by the President's party, according to the “surge and decline” thesis, simply r...
Article
Midterm congressional elections have been generally viewed as relatively sterile affairs marked by reduced turnout, party voting, and the play of politically idiosyncratic forces such as friends-and-neighbors voting. The usual reduction in the number of seats controlled by the President's party, according to the “surge and decline” thesis, simply r...
Article
Technological advances in communications and transportation during the twentieth century created numerous opportunities for presidents to go public. None, arguably, was more important than television. From the late 1950s on, virtually every home had at least one television set. President John Kennedy grasped the opportunity television afforded pres...

Citations

... Given the scarcity and prominence of Senate seats (Schlesinger, 1966), these elections typically feature high quality challengers possessing the necessary political skill and financial resources needed to mount credible campaigns (Lublin, 1994;Gerber, 1998). This is in contrast to House elections, which typically feature strategic quality challengers that generally wait to emerge for open seat contests (Jacobson and Samuel, 1982) political amateurs which emerge as challengers (Cox and Katz, 1996). Moreover, Senators are well aware of the utility derived from incumbency and tailor the use of their office to suit political needs of their state and build distinct personal brands (Grimmer, 2013). ...
... Had they been provided a line-item veto, presidents would have gained leverage for negotiating exchanges and winning policy battles. Yet, over the last several decades, presidents have leaned on vetoes (Cameron 2000) and especially veto threats (Sinclair 2014, Hassell and Kernell 2015, Guenther and Kernell 2021 to do more than block bad bills. The Framers, however, referred to the veto as "the Negative" for good reason. ...
... Wayne E. Fuller (1955Fuller ( , 1959Fuller ( , 1964 provides valuable historical context on the establishment of RFD, and several articles have used RFD to test economic or political science hypotheses. Daniel P. Carpenter (2000) investigated models of state building through several large-scale postal initiatives (including RFD), while Samuel Kernell (2001) considered the effect of the individual political gains that members of Congress believed they would receive with the implementation of RFD during the Post Office's transition from a system of patronage to a service. James Feigenbaum and Martin Rotemberg (n.d.) are studying the effect of RFD expansion of information on investment choices. ...
... Understanding these steps is crucial to determining whether presidential goals are ultimately achieved through the bills that they initially propose. Incorporating the president's changing positions on these bills through his Statements of Administration Policy (SAP) may be a valuable next step (e.g., Kernell et al. 2019). Moreover, formal administrative support of some bills, as signaled in the SAP or through presidential position-taking more generally (Cohen 2019), may further boost the president's chances of legislative success. ...
... Presidents may face costs from choosing to veto legislation (Groseclose and McCarty 2001;Rice and Kernell 2019) and drafting new legislation to become the status-quo may require a politician's time and resources. Suppose, then, that in a political economy P = (N, Z , ( i ), L α ), legislators face costs not only to challenge the status quo, but also to propose it in the first place. ...
... While most incumbent members of Congress who run for reelection have won since at least the early nineteenth century (Carson and Sievert 2018), incumbents did not always receive an electoral boost on Election Day in earlier historical periods (Carson and Roberts 2013). The common thread linking the earlier period with today is that both were instances in which elections were highly nationalized and voter's partisan loyalty was high (Burnham 1965;Engstrom and Kernell 2005). Our focus on nationalization is not meant to imply that other factors cannot potentially enhance or diminish the incumbency advantage or perhaps even trump the effect of nationalization in specific instances. ...
... "Negativität" -so der Oberbegriff -ist ein wesentlicher Verhaltenszug, der sich in verschiedenen Formen ausdrückt: etwa in hochkritischen Bewertungen der Regierungsperformanz, skeptischer Sezierung von Kandidatenprofilen oder systematischer Abgrenzung von anderen Parteien (z.B. Bloom und Price 1975;Kernell 1977;Maggiotto und Piereson 1977;Lau 1982;Holbrook et al. 2001;Soroka 2014;Naurin et al. 2019). Dem zugrunde liegen allgemeine verhaltenspsychologische Prozesse von Verlustaversion, enttäuschbarer Erwartungen oder affektiver Identitätsbildung (Kahneman und Tversky 1979;Lau 1985;Iyengar et al. 2012). ...
... To help demonstrate both the differences across these two historical periods and general patterns in nationalization, we examined the relationship between presidential and congressional election outcomes, which is a common measure of nationalization (Abramowitz and Webster 2016;Engstrom and Kernell 2014;Jacobson 2015;Sievert and McKee 2019), across the entire time period of our study. Figure 1 reports the correlation between the district-level Democratic share of the vote for presidential and congressional elections. ...
... Jeong and Bendix (2020),Hassell and Kernell (2016), MacDonald (2013, 2010). 4 Dietrich et al. (2018), Allen and Flynn (2018), Brech and Potrafke (2014).Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. ...
... Early in the 20th century news organizations aimed for objectivity by providing both sides of political debates [1,2]. Now, with greater availability and more choices [3,4], many news organizations provide more overt ideological perspectives to differentiate themselves in a more competitive market [5][6][7][8][9]. Many speculate that this partisan news could be driving political polarization [10][11][12] and some scholars argue that increasing polarization in the United States may alter how people form attitudes [13], thus making them more inclined to uncritically accept arguments put forth by partisan news. ...