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Are Changing Constituencies Driving Rising Polarization in the U.S. House of Representatives?

February 18, 2015 Comments off

Are Changing Constituencies Driving Rising Polarization in the U.S. House of Representatives?
Source: RAND Corporation

This report addresses two questions: first, whether the spatial distribution of the American electorate has become more geographically clustered over the last 40 years with respect to party voting and socioeconomic attributes; and second, whether this clustering process has contributed to rising polarization in the U.S. House of Representatives. We find support for both hypotheses and estimate that long-term geographical clustering of voters is responsible for roughly 30 percent of the increase in polarization in the House between the 93rd and 112th Congresses. An important ancillary finding is that the within-district percentage of adults who are married dwarfs other socioeconomic variables — including those measuring race, education, income, and urbanicity — as a predictor of local partisanship, as measured by both the party affiliation of the House representative and the presidential vote share.

Big business crushed ballot measures in 2014

February 10, 2015 Comments off

Big business crushed ballot measures in 2014
Source: Center for Public Integrity

Key findings:

  • More than three-quarters of the $266 million given by the top 50 donors to ballot measure groups nationwide ahead of the 2014 elections came from corporations or business trade groups.
  • Four out of every five dollars that the top contributing business groups gave to ballot measure fights went to the sides trying to defeat the proposals.
  • Totaling $88 million, health care groups gave more than any industry among the top 50 donors. Casino companies were a close second, giving nearly $60 million across the nation to 2014 ballot measure fights.
  • Five of the top 50 ballot measure contributors also gave big for elective office and were among the top 50 donors to races for state-level candidates: Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Sheldon Adelson, Michael Bloomberg, the California Democratic Party and the National Education Association teachers union.

The Air War versus The Ground Game: An Analysis of Multi-Channel Marketing in US Presidential Elections

January 30, 2015 Comments off

The Air War versus The Ground Game: An Analysis of Multi-Channel Marketing in US Presidential Elections
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

Firms increasingly use both mass-media advertising and targeted personal selling to successfully promote products and brands in the marketplace. In this study, we jointly examine the effect of mass-media advertising and personal selling in the context of U.S. presidential elections, where the former is referred to as the “air war” and the latter the “ground game.” Specifically, we look at how different types of advertising―candidates’ own ads vs. outside ads―and personal selling―in the form of utilizing field offices―affect voter preferences. Further, we ask how these various campaign activities affect the outcome of elections through their diverse effects on various types of people. We find that personal selling has a stronger effect among partisan voters, while candidates’ own advertising is better received by non-partisans. We also find that personal selling accounted for the Democratic victories in the 2008 and 2012 elections and that advertising was critical only in a close election, such as the one in 2004. Interestingly, had the Democrats received more outside advertising in 2004, the election would have ended up in a 269-269 tie. Our findings generate insights on how to allocate resources across and within channels.

CRS — The Help America Vote Act and Election Administration: Overview and Issues (December 17, 2014)

January 14, 2015 Comments off

The Help America Vote Act and Election Administration: Overview and Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

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.

Disenfranchisement of EU citizens resident abroad – Situation in national and European elections in EU Member States

January 14, 2015 Comments off

Disenfranchisement of EU citizens resident abroad – Situation in national and European elections in EU Member States
Source: European Parliament Think Tank

The right to vote in elections is a fundamental right common to the constitutional traditions of the Member States, and recognised in the EU Treaties as intrinsically related to the right of political participation which, for its part, provides democratic legitimacy to those exercising public power. This right is not absolute though and is subject to restrictions. The decision of who is conferred the right to vote in national and also in European elections lies with states. Six EU Member States deprive their nationals, under varying conditions, of the right to vote in national parliamentary elections due to residence abroad, both in other Member States and in third countries. These same six Member States also disenfranchise their nationals in European elections, if they live permanently in a third country, and two of them even do so in respect of nationals resident within the EU. ‘Disenfranchisement’ due to residence abroad can be a result of minimum residence requirements in the country in which elections take place as well as of losing electoral rights due to time spent abroad. The lack of facilities to vote from abroad, while rendering the exercise of voting rights difficult, does not amount to their loss as such.Disenfranchisement is based on the assumption that expatriates are not affected by the political decisions taken in their country of nationality and that they are not able to cast a meaningful vote due to lack of knowledge of the political reality there. Globalisation and improved communication means have however induced a tendency towards enfranchising expatriates.

The Politics of Financial Insecurity

January 9, 2015 Comments off

The Politics of Financial Insecurity
Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

When it comes to choosing a party’s candidate in the voting booth, one pattern in modern American politics is so familiar it has become a truism: the rich vote Republican, the poor vote Democratic. And while the reality of the situation is much more nuanced, in broad strokes it has been the case that Republicans have consistently garnered disproportionate levels of support from the financially well-off, while the least financially secure Americans have been significantly more likely to back Democrats.

But a new analysis of Pew Research Center survey data collected in the fall lead-up to the 2014 midterm elections finds that at least as striking is the degree to which those who are financially insecure opt out of the political system altogether, and how that opting out disproportionately affects Democratic support.

CRS — Coordinated Party Expenditures in Federal Elections: An Overview (December 8, 2014)

December 17, 2014 Comments off

Coordinated Party Expenditures in Federal Elections: An Overview (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

A provision of federal campaign finance law, codified at 52 U.S.C. §30116(d) (formerly 2 U.S.C. §441a(d)), allows political party committees to make expenditures on behalf of their general election candidates for federal office and specifies limits on such spending. These “coordinated party expenditures” are important not only because they provide financial support to campaigns, but also because parties and campaigns may explicitly discuss how the money is spent. Although they have long been the major source of direct party financial support for campaigns, coordinated expenditures have recently been overshadowed by independent expenditures.

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