Archive

Archive for the ‘elections’ Category

Party Polarization and Campaign Finance

July 23, 2014 Comments off

Party Polarization and Campaign Finance
Source: Brookings Institution

There is a lively debate today over whether or not campaign finance reforms have weakened the role of political parties in campaigns. This seems an odd argument in an era of historically high levels of party loyalty — on roll calls in Congress and voting in the electorate. Are parties too strong and unified or too weak and fragmented? Have they been marginalized in the financing of elections or is their role at least as strong as it has ever been? Does the party role in campaign finance (weak or strong) materially shape the capacity to govern?

In addition, the increasing involvement in presidential and congressional campaigns of large donors – especially through Super PACs and politically-active nonprofit organizations – has raised serious concerns about whether the super-wealthy are buying American democracy. Ideologically-based outside groups financed by wealthy donors appear to be sharpening partisan differences and resisting efforts to forge agreement across parties. Many reformers have advocated steps to increase the number of small donors to balance the influence of the wealthy. But some scholars have found evidence suggesting that small donors are more polarizing than large donors. Can that be true? If so, are there channels other than the ideological positioning of the parties through which small donors might play a more constructive role in our democracy?

In this paper, Thomas Mann and Anthony Corrado attempt to shed light on both of these disputed features of our campaign finance system and then assess whether campaign finance reform offers promise for reducing polarization and strengthening American democracy. They conclude that not only is campaign finance reform a weak tool for depolarizing American political parties, but some break in the party wars is probably a prerequisite to any serious pushback to the broader deregulation of campaign finance now underway.

About these ads

The Great Society, Reagan’s revolution, and generations of presidential voting

July 9, 2014 Comments off

The Great Society, Reagan’s revolution, and generations of presidential voting (PDF)
Source: Columbia University (Ghitza and Gelman)

We build a generational model of presidential voting, in which long-term partisan presidential voting preferences are formed, in large part, through a weighted “running tally” of retrospective presidential evaluations, where weights are determined by the age in which the evaluation was made. Under the model, the Gallup Presidential Approval Rating time series is shown to be a good approximation to the political events that inform retrospective presidential evaluations. The political events of a voter’s teenage and early adult years, centered around the age of 18, are enormously important in the formation of these longterm partisan preferences. The model is shown to be powerful, explaining a substantial amount of the macro-level voting trends of the last half century, especially for white voters and non-Southern whites in particular. We use a narrative of presidential political events from the 1940s to the present day to describe the model, illustrating the formation of five main generations of presidential voters.

CRS — The State of Campaign Finance Policy: Recent Developments and Issues for Congress

July 7, 2014 Comments off

The State of Campaign Finance Policy: Recent Developments and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Major changes have occurred in campaign finance policy since 2002, when Congress substantially amended campaign finance law via the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA). The Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United and a related lower-court decision, SpeechNow.org v. FEC, arguably represent the most fundamental changes to campaign finance law in decades. Citizens United lifted a previous ban on corporate (and union) independent expenditures advocating election or defeat of candidates. SpeechNow permitted unlimited contributions to such expenditures and facilitated the advent of super PACs. Although campaign finance policy remains the subject of intense debate and public interest, there have been few legislative or regulatory changes to respond to the 2010 court rulings. This report considers these and other developments in campaign finance policy and comments on areas of potential conflict and consensus. In another recent major change, the Supreme Court invalidated aggregate contribution limits in April 2014 (McCutcheon v. FEC).

Legislative activity to respond to the rulings has focused on the DISCLOSE Act, which passed the House during the 111th Congress, and was reintroduced during the 112th and 113th Congresses (H.R. 148). Recent alternatives, which include some elements of DISCLOSE, include 113th Congress bills such as Senators Wyden and Murkowski’s S. 791, or proposals that would require additional disclosure from certain 501(c) groups.

NCSL Launches Elections Administration Research Database

June 26, 2014 Comments off

NCSL Launches Elections Administration Research Database
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

What is the impact of major court rulings on voter ID laws?

How are states ensuring voter registration lists are accurate?

Which new voting system designs are being developed for the marketplace?

Finding these answers and other information about elections policy can quickly eat up the kind of time that a lawmaker, legislative staffer or elections administrator can hardly afford to spend.

But that was life before the Elections Administration Research Database, a new tool launched today by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The database brings together more than 1,900 reports that, altogether, address a wide range of elections topics. It is supported by generous funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The collection includes reports dating back to 2000 and reflects a variety of perspectives, from election administrators to nonprofit organizations to academic researchers. The reports are grouped by subject, author, publication and state and can be searched by a combination of these categories, or by date ranges or a specific article title.

EUI Library Electoral and Parliamentary Data Directory now expanded

June 2, 2014 Comments off

EUI Library Electoral and Parliamentary Data Directory now expanded
Source: European University Institute Library

The EUI Library has expanded its Electoral Data Directory which now includes 13 major international resources: European Election Studies (EES/GESIS); European Election Database (NSSDS); Constituency-Level Elections Archive (CPS); EUDO data on European democracy (EUI); Electoral data archive (ICPSR); Parliament and Government Composition Database (Bremen); Chapel Hill Expert Surveys; Manifesto Project Database (WZB); Inter-Parliamentary Union data (IPU); Psephos (Melbourne); Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CPS/GESIS); Political Data Yearbook interactive (ECPR) and the Campaign Finance Database (DIME/Stanford). Full details and access to data.

CRS — The European Parliament (updated)

May 28, 2014 Comments off

The European Parliament (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Between May 22 and May 25, 2014, the 28 member states of the European Union (EU) will hold elections for the next European Parliament (EP). The Parliament is a key EU institution that represents the citizens of the EU. It works closely with the two other main EU bodies, the European Commission (the EU’s executive) and the Council of the European Union (also known as the Council of Ministers, on which the national governments of the EU’s 28 member states are represented). Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) serve five-year terms, and have been directly elected since 1979. The next EP will have 751 seats.

The EU Elections on Twitter: Mixed Views about the EU & Little Passion for the Candidates

May 23, 2014 Comments off

The EU Elections on Twitter: Mixed Views about the EU & Little Passion for the Candidates
Source: Pew Research Journalism Project

A new Pew Research Center analysis of the conversation on Twitter leading up to the European Parliament elections suggests mixed sentiment toward the European Union (EU) and a general lack of passion about the candidates seeking the European Commission presidency.

In the analysis of more than 1.2 million tweets in English, French and German collected between May 1-14, a decidedly mixed view about the EU emerged. In English, 31% of the assertions on Twitter about the EU were positive toward the EU (which included the EU directly, its institutions and Europe), compared with 39% that were negative and 30% that were neutral. The Twitter conversation in French broke down the same basic way—33% positive, 39% negative and 28% neutral. And while the German language conversation about the EU on Twitter was much more positive (39%) than negative (5%), these views were embedded in a low intensity conversation that represented a mere fraction of the Twitter activity in French and English.

The positive view toward the EU was reflected in a tweet from Finnish minister Alexander Stubb who wrote: “We need the EU for four simple reasons: peace, prosperity, security and stability. We can do more together, than alone.” The opposite view was voiced in a tweet from @MetManPH noting that, “It’s not racist to believe that membership of the EU is not in Britain’s best interests.”

For 2016 Hopefuls, Washington Experience Could Do More Harm than Good

May 19, 2014 Comments off

For 2016 Hopefuls, Washington Experience Could Do More Harm than Good
Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

As the 2016 presidential campaign begins to take shape, Washington experience has become less of a potential asset for those seeking the White House.

A new national survey testing candidate traits finds that 30% would be less likely to support a candidate with “many years” of experience as an elected official in Washington, while 19% would be more likely to support such a candidate. About half (48%) say it would not matter if a candidate had long Washington experience.

By contrast, early in the 2008 presidential campaign, more than twice as many saw lengthy Washington experience as a positive than negative trait for a presidential candidate (35% more likely vs. 15% less likely).

Voter Enthusiasm Down Sharply From 2010

May 15, 2014 Comments off

Voter Enthusiasm Down Sharply From 2010
Source: Gallup

A majority of U.S. registered voters, 53%, say they are less enthusiastic about voting than in previous elections, while 35% are more enthusiastic. This 18-percentage-point enthusiasm deficit is larger than what Gallup has measured in prior midterm election years, particularly in 2010 when there was record midterm enthusiasm.

OIG Report on Investigation of Census Bureau Data Falsification Allegations

May 1, 2014 Comments off

OIG Report on Investigation of Census Bureau Data Falsification Allegations
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General
From Transmittal Memo (PDF):

In November 2013, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) initiated an investigation into allegations of systemic data falsification within the Census Bureau’s Philadelphia Regional Office. These allegations were repeated in various media outlets, accompanied by additional information alleging that falsification was aimed to influence the national unemployment rate in advance of the 2012 presidential election.

OIG exhaustively investigated these allegations and found them to be unsubstantiated. However, during our review, we identified several areas where the Census Bureau could implement policies and improve processes to better prevent survey data falsification. As a result, we made several recommendations to strengthen Census Bureau programs, and would appreciate a response detailing the agency’s plans for addressing these recommendations within 60 days.

Census Bureau Statistics Explore Voting Patterns of Young Adults

April 29, 2014 Comments off

Census Bureau Statistics Explore Voting Patterns of Young Adults
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Voting rates among young adults fell to 38.0 percent in 2012 from 44.3 percent in 2008 following increases in two consecutive presidential elections (2008 and 2004), according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report on age and voting patterns released today.

These statistics come from Young Adult Voting: An Analysis of Presidential Elections, 1964-2012, which uses data collected by the Current Population Survey. The report provides a detailed 50-year historical portrait of voters with a specific focus on young adults.

In every U.S. presidential election from 1964 on, 18- to 24-year-olds voted at lower rates than all other age groups. In contrast, Americans 65 and older have voted at higher rates than all other age groups since the 1996 election.

“The young-adult voting gap closed somewhat from 2000 to 2008 but opened up a bit again in 2012,” said Thom File, a sociologist in the Census Bureau’s Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division. “Age-based voting patterns are not set in stone. For example as recently as 1992, the nation’s oldest voters did not vote at a level higher than all other age groups.”

CRS — Campaign Contribution Limits: Selected Questions About McCutcheon and Policy Issues for Congress

April 22, 2014 Comments off

Campaign Contribution Limits: Selected Questions About McCutcheon and Policy Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Recently invalidated aggregate limits on federal campaign contributions capped the total amount that one can give to all candidates, parties, or political action committees (PACs). For the 2014 election cycle, the aggregate limit for individual contributions was $123,200.The Supreme Court of the United States struck down the aggregate limits on April 2, 2014. Alabama contributor Shaun McCutcheon and the Republican National Committee (RNC) brought the case, McCutcheon v. FEC, after the aggregate limits prevented McCutcheon from contributing as desired to federal candidates and parties during the 2012 election cycle. The decision does not affect “base limits” that individuals may contribute to particular candidates or parties. Instead, McCutcheon permits individuals to give limited contributions to an unlimited number of candidates, political parties, and political action committees.

This report offers a preliminary analysis of major policy issues and potential implications that appear to be most relevant as the House and Senate decide whether or how to respond to McCutcheon. With the aggregate limits relaxed, additional funds might flow to candidate committees, party committees, or PACs. Joint fundraising committees and leadership PACs might expand as tools to funnel large contributions to multiple candidate committees, parties, or PACs. Disclosure of contributors who exceed the current aggregate limits might also be a policy concern. It is important to note that whether these possibilities will occur is unclear at this time.

This report will be updated to reflect major developments. This version of the report supersedes previous versions.

CRS — Latin America and the Caribbean: Fact Sheet on Leaders and Elections (updated)

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Latin America and the Caribbean: Fact Sheet on Leaders and Elections (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report provides the results of recent elections in Latin America and the Caribbean. Below are three tables organized by region, including the date of each country’s independence, the name of the newly elected president or prime minister, and the projected date of the next election. Information in this report was gathered from numerous sources, including the U.S. State Department, the CIA’s Open Source, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), and other news sources.

Few Americans Know Where Elected Officials and Candidates Stand on Government Support for Research and Innovation, New Polling Booklet Reveals

April 10, 2014 Comments off

Few Americans Know Where Elected Officials and Candidates Stand on Government Support for Research and Innovation, New Polling Booklet Reveals
Source: Research!America

Two-thirds of Americans (66%) say it’s important for candidates running for office to assign a high priority to funding medical research, according to America Speaks, Volume 14, a compilation of key questions from public opinion polls commissioned by Research!America. Polling shows that Americans place a high value on U.S. leadership in medical innovation, yet only 12% say they are very well informed about the positions of their senators and representative when it comes to their support of medical and scientific research. www.researchamerica.org/poll_summary.

To help close this knowledge gap, Research!America and partner organizations are launching a national voter education initiative, Ask Your Candidates! Is Medical Research Progress a Priority? Through online and grassroots activities, social media strategies and on-the-ground events, congressional candidates will be urged to share their views on government policies and support for medical innovation conducted in both the public and private sectors. www.askyourcandidates.org.

Pew Index Shows 40 States Improved Election Performance in 2012

April 8, 2014 Comments off

Pew Index Shows 40 States Improved Election Performance in 2012
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

Between 2008 and 2012, state election performance overall improved by 4.4 percentage points, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts’ latest Elections Performance Index, released today. The expanded index makes it possible for all 50 states and the District of Columbia to measure how well they conducted elections compared not only with other states, but also over time.

This annual study allows states to measure election administration by looking at such indicators as wait times at polling locations, availability of voting information tools online, rejection of voter registrations, problems with registration or absentee ballots, rejection of military and overseas ballots, voter turnout, and accuracy of voting technology.

Overall, 40 states and the district improved their scores in the 2012 election, compared with 2008. The scores of 21 states and the district rose at a rate greater than the national average, 19 states’ averages improved but didn’t keep pace with the national average, and 10 states’ performance declined. The district improved the most—20 points—from 2008 to 2012 but still remained among the lower performers.

CRS — The Help America Vote Act and Election Administration: Overview and Issues

April 7, 2014 Comments off

The Help America Vote Act and Election Administration: Overview and Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

The deadlocked November 2000 presidential election focused national attention on previously obscure details of election administration. Even before the U.S. Supreme Court had resolved the election in December, numerous bills to address the failings of the election system were introduced in Congress and state legislatures. The response at the federal level was the Help America Vote Act (HAVA; P.L. 107-252), enacted in 2002. HAVA created the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), established a set of election administration requirements, and provided federal funding, but did not supplant state and local control over election administration. Several issues have arisen or persisted in the years since HAVA was enacted. This report provides background information about HAVA and its provisions, the EAC, funding for the agency and for state programs to improve elections, and a number of enduring election administration issues.

Does Secular Education Impact Religiosity, Electoral Participation and the Propensity to Vote for Islamic Parties? Evidence from an Education Reform in a Muslim Country

April 6, 2014 Comments off

Does Secular Education Impact Religiosity, Electoral Participation and the Propensity to Vote for Islamic Parties? Evidence from an Education Reform in a Muslim Country (PDF)
Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

Using a unique survey of adults in Turkey, we find that an increase in educational attainment, due to an exogenous secular education reform, decreases women’s propensity to identify themselves as religious, lowers their tendency to wear a religious head cover (head scarf, turban or burka) and increases the tendency for modernity. Education reduces women’s propensity to vote for Islamic parties. There is no statistically significant impact of education on men’s religiosity or their tendency to vote for Islamic parties and education does not influence the propensity to cast a vote in national elections for men or women. The impact of education on religiosity and voting preference is not working through migration, residential location or labor force participation.

Democracy in Afghanistan The 2014 Election and Beyond

March 18, 2014 Comments off

Democracy in Afghanistan The 2014 Election and Beyond
Source: RAND Corporation

Afghanistan’s upcoming presidential election is the most important political event in that country’s decade-long transition to democracy. A successful election would be a major blow to the Taliban and al Qaida, and would renew Afghan efforts to bring the war to a favorable conclusion. The defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan would be a major setback for similar groups worldwide, many of which look to Afghanistan as a sort of template for how to accomplish a jihadist takeover. By contrast, a failed election and a renewed push by the Taliban could become a rallying cry and a morale boost to the same groups. Because the stakes are high, the international community should recognize that, despite a dozen years of frustration and halting progress, Afghanistan’s political and economic reconstruction needs one more push before the milestone election. Helping Afghanistan across the electoral finish line will increase the odds that the country will find some sort of solution to its internal stability and, thus, be able to deny safe haven to al Qaida and its affiliates.

CRS — Congressional Redistricting and the Voting Rights Act: A Legal Overview (updated)

March 13, 2014 Comments off

Congressional Redistricting and the Voting Rights Act: A Legal Overview (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of Iowa Law Library)

The Constitution requires a count of the U.S. population every 10 years. Based on the census, the number of seats in the House of Representatives is reapportioned among the states. Thus, at least every 10 years, in response to changes in the number of Representatives apportioned to it or to shifts in its population, each state is required to draw new boundaries for its congressional districts. Although each state has its own process for redistricting, congressional districts must conform to a number of constitutional and federal statutory standards, including the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965.

CRS — The State of Campaign Finance Policy – Recent Developments and Issues for Congress (updated)

February 19, 2014 Comments off

The State of Campaign Finance Policy – Recent Developments and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via MSPB Watch)

Minor and major changes have occurred in campaign finance policy since 2002, when Congress substantially amended campaign finance law via the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA). The Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC and a related lower-court decision, SpeechNow.org v. FEC, arguably represent the most fundamental changes to campaign finance law in decades. Citizens United lifted a previous ban on corporate (and union) independent expenditures advocating election or defeat of candidates. SpeechNow permitted unlimited contributions to such expenditures and facilitated the advent of super PACs. Although campaign finance policy remains the subject of intense debate and public interest, there have been few legislative or regulatory changes to respond to the 2010 court rulings. This report considers these and other developments in campaign finance policy and comments on areas of potential conflict and consensus.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 857 other followers