September 3, 2014 * Lunch will be provided
I evaluate whether racial gerrymandering under the Voting Rights Act enhances the election of Democrats or Republicans to Congress. I argue that the partisan effect of creating majority-black VRA districts depends on the political geography of black voters; thus, the effect of racial gerrymandering varies, even within a single state. When blacks reside in politically liberal or moderate regions (e.g., Atlanta, Georgia), the creation of a majority-black district has the "perverse effect" of helping to elect more Republican legislators. But when blacks reside in more conservative regions (e.g., Southern Georgia), racial gerrymandering harms Republicans by creating a black, safe Democratic seat in areas that would normally be drawn into uniformly Republican districts. Hence, depending on the political geography of African-Americans, the VRA can either restrict Republican partisan gerrymandering, or it can empower more extreme Republican gerrymandering. The latter outcome arises because the VRA allows partisan redistricters to choose from a new set of redistricting configurations that are normally geographically impermissible in the absence of the VRA.
September 10, 2014
People appear to know very little about politics and government. When asked any of a wide range of questions on these topics, millions give incorrect answers or no answer at all. People respond to this data in different ways. Some castigate the masses and discourage their political participation. Others seek a more constructive response.
Thousands of individuals and organizations work to improve politically-relevant knowledge and competence. Experts, advocates, teachers, journalists, spiritual leaders, and scientists are amongst those who seek to offer information that helps others make better decisions. I am included in this group of educators. This presentation is for, and about, us. Its purpose is to help us achieve more of our educational aspirations.
A challenge in attempts to improve knowledge and competence is that we often misunderstand how others learn. Some educators are mistaken about what kinds of information are relevant to prospective learners’ decisions. Others are mistaken about the kinds of information to which prospective learners will pay attention. These errors lead many educators to provide information does not improve relevant kinds of knowledge and is of little value to others.
Many of these errors are correctable. A book manuscript that I have recently completed shows how to do so. My method is to clarify the relationship between information that we can give to other people, the kinds of knowledge that prospective learners can acquire from this information, and how such knowledge affects competence at politically-relevant tasks. In each chapter, I use lessons from research and practice to identify more effective ways to convey information that matters.
If you accept the idea that citizens sometimes lack the knowledge that they need to make competent political choices, that greater knowledge can improve decision making, and that experts, advocates, and other educators are sometimes mistaken about how people think and learn, then a prescription for improving political knowledge and civic competence emerges: we need to educate the educators. That is what the presentation is about. It seeks to help educators of all kinds convey information that is of more value to more people.
September 17, 2014
A description of the Arab Democracy Index (ADI) project sponsored by the Arab Reform Initiative (ARI) since 2008 with a special focus on methods and findings. The project is led by the speaker with the support of a dozen teams in Arab universities and research centers. The latest round, covering the period between 2011 and 2013, will be made public next month. The report, which provides quantitative data on political developments, relies on empirical data and covers developments in nine Arab countries. They include three of those who witnessed major upheavals during the Arab Spring (Egypt, Tunisia, and Bahrain), two that witnessed limited change ( Jordan and Morocco), and four that witnessed only minor political change (Algeria, Palestine, Lebanon, and Kuwait). Important countries, such as Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia could not be covered in this fourth ADI report. Overall findings show that the Arab Spring has left a positive, but limited, impact on transition to democracy in the Arab World. It opened the door to greater liberties and political participation. This however did not apply to all countries or to all indicators of transition. The country with the greatest progress has been Tunisia, gaining more than 15% increase in its overall score compared to the pre-Arab Spring period. The indicator that witnessed the greatest positive change has been the one that measured practices associated with the status of political rights and liberties, increasing by 20% compared to the third ADI, the last one issued before the eruption of the Arab Spring.
September 24, 2014
Anne Pitcher and Manny Teodoro (Texas A&M)
This study examines the policy effects of formal agency independence in developing countries by analyzing the privatization of state-owned enterprises in Africa. Research on the political impact of independent technocratic agencies has evolved mostly in advanced democracies. These conventional theoretical accounts predict that greater formal independence for technocratic agencies facilitates more rapid privatization. Based on research in developing countries, we argue that the effects of agency independence depend on the political context in which the agency operates. Specifically, we predict that greater independence leads to more thorough privatization under authoritarian regimes, but that the effect of independence declines as a country becomes more democratic. Using an original dataset, we examine the impact of technocratic agencies on privatization of state-owned enterprises in Africa from 1990-2007. Our results modify the conventional wisdom on bureaucratic independence in developing countries and culminate in a more nuanced theory of “contingent technocracy."
October 1, 2014
With numerous scholars expressing interest, and in some cases concern, over the impact of televised campaign ads on participation, it is vital that our understanding of the effects of political advertising be based on sound assumptions. Yet to date, research regarding emotion and politics relies almost exclusively upon self-reported measures. Using a randomized experiment with carefully manipulated campaign advertisements, I find evidence that an alternative measure of emotional response, physiological arousal, is a powerful predictor of participation among a particular segment of the population, political novices. Importantly, the findings suggest that arousal is not simply a proxy for self-reported emotion, but rather, a different and complementary measure of the emotional experience.
October 8, 2014
This study throws new light on whether public opinion polls, namely, preference falsification of electoral preferences can affect the level of election frauds by employing the revised T. Kuran's model of preference falsification. The model’s theoretical implications are tested on the data collected during the most recent presidential campaign in Russia (2012), as well as the cross-national dataset. My research findings reveal the presence of statistically significant effect of preference falsification on election frauds, thus enabling me to conclude that preference falsification is, indeed, conducive to election frauds in autocracies. The results of this research are generalizable to a broad set of authoritarian regimes, enabling scholars to get a better understanding of the mechanism by which the survey polls can incentivize officials to commit election fraud.
November 5, 2014
What should we make of the 2014 elections? As we begin to construct our narratives, journalists and political scientists will use a combination of news and polling to disentangle the various forces at play. But despite more than 80 years of modern survey research, we still do not have a good sense of what surveys tell us about an election cycle. Gelman and King famously questioned why surveys were so variable when elections, at least at the presidential level, were highly predictable. Many scholars have given a partial answer to this question, noting that surveys respond to events like party conventions and presidential debates as well as large media campaigns. But the extent to which these trends are meaningful remains unclear. In this talk, I examine data across recent election cycles to compare polling across campaigns at the presidential, senatorial, and gubernatorial levels and explore the extent to which polling trends tell similar stories across different types of campaigns in different states in different years. The results reveal frequent correspondence between trends for different elections, suggesting that a small number of narratives may explain the variations we see.
November 12, 2014 * Lunch will be provided
Francisco Pedraza (Texas A&M University)
I conceptualize an understudied motivation underpinning immigration policy preferences and attitudes towards immigrants. A key argument advanced in support of restrictionist immigration measures is based on the principle of rule of law. In general, the central concern is that law and order is threatened by the entry of unauthorized persons into a country and by their continued presence in the country. One particular feature of this principle is the belief in the `spirals of noncompliance' --- that transgression of law in one domain (or by one person) increases the likelihood that laws in other domains will be violated (or other people will flaunt the law). Using original survey questions I assess the extent to which this belief is held with respect to professional athletes, taxpayers, employers, and immigrants. I also evaluate the social and political correlates of consistency in this belief, as well as the relationship between consistency in this belief and support for specific restrictive immigration enforcement policy. Contrary to what principled adherents of `rule of law' in immigration policy debates espouse, the data suggest that individuals who express the greatest consistently in their `spirals of noncompliance' beliefs are less supportive of restrictive immigration policy.
November 19, 2014
No Talk Scheduled (Political Science Department Professional Development Day)
December 3, 2014
January 7, 2015
January 14, 2015
speaker to be announced
January 21, 2015
Yuen Yuen Ang
January 28, 2015
February 4, 2015
February 11, 2015
Barbara Anderson and John Romani
February 18, 2015
February 25, 2015
March 11, 2015
March 18, 2015
March 25, 2015
Adam Berinsky (MIT)
April 1, 2015
April 8, 2015
April 22, 2015
Adam Levine (Cornell University) and Yanna Krupnikow (Northwestern University)
April 29, 2015
May 6, 2015
speaker to be announced
May 13, 2015
May 20, 2015
Mara Cecilia Ostfeld