Media Ownership as a Political Investment

The massive flow of money into politics has generated widespread concerns about its impact on political equality. Political campaigns’ increased reliance on private contributions has meant that the rich can exert far greater influence than citizens with lesser means. One insufficiently discussed route by which the super-rich can obtain outsized political clout is through ownership …

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The Peaceful Transfer of Power and Social Contract

Concentrating the legitimate use of organized violence, and entrusting its use to a single individual, is generally considered to be a critical ingredient of state formation, and a necessary ingredient of political stability, especially in fractionalized political environments. Historically, this has been accomplished by appointing a ruler: an individual who is endowed with—or takes—political authority. …

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The Primary Path for Turning Legislative Effectiveness into Electoral Success

Effective lawmakers are the workhorses of the U.S. Congress, but does this legislative effort translate into electoral success? That is, are members of Congress rewarded at the ballot box for the work that they put into advancing their bills through the lawmaking process? In today’s polarized political climate, gridlock is pervasive and elected officials are …

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Our Corporate Overlords

On the front cover of one of its 2016 issues, The Economist depicted Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the guise of an emperor. It explained the choice thus: Not since the era of imperial Rome has the “thumbs-up” sign been such a potent and public symbol of power. A mere 12 years after it was …

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Making Non-Voters Pay: Prices as an Alternative to Compulsory Voting

In most democracies, including the USA and UK, voting is voluntary. This usually results in low and unequal electoral turnout, which some take to threaten the ideals of democratic responsiveness and political equality. Some have suggested that these problems could be solved by making voting compulsory, as it is in countries such as Australia and …

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Governments use international organizations to hide contentious foreign policies

It is an open secret in international politics that governments sometimes use money to buy political support from other governments. As an example, take this unusually frank remark from former US President Trump: “These nations that take our money and then they vote against us at the Security Council … We’re watching those votes. Let …

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Machine Learning for Small-Area Survey Measures

We propose a method to estimate sub-national public opinion from national survey data. Our approach extends the current gold-standard, multilevel regression, and post-stratification (MrP), with standard machine learning techniques to improve prediction accuracy. We also provide a package for the R statistical computing environment that implements our approach. This package, called autoMrP, is available for …

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International terrorism decreases public support for refugee resettlement, but not for long

In November 2015, the Syria-based Islamic State terrorist organization perpetrated a large series of attacks in Paris, France, at a rock concert, football stadium, and the city’s cafes and restaurants. The attacks were the largest in an advanced democracy in over a decade and resulted in the deaths of 130 civilians. The attacks also coincided …

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When Control of Redistricting is at Stake, State Ruling Parties Engineer Narrow Majorities in State Legislatures

In a new paper titled “Can the Party in Power Systematically Win a Majority in Close Legislative Elections? Evidence from U.S. State Assemblies,” Dahyeon Jeong and Ajay Shenoy find evidence that parties can systematically win a slender majority of seats in close legislative elections, at the cost of winning fewer seats. Most states pass new …

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The President that Appoints Judges Matters for Civil Rights

How important is political ideology to the way judges decide cases? Are judges merely “politicians in robes,” or are they faithfully interpreting and applying the law? Political scientists have long been interested in these questions. We’re interested too, but we’re asking—and answering—these questions in a different way. The first difference is our focus. The US …

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Appeals Judges Only Rely on Ideology When Reviewing Judges They Don’t Know Well

When the media reports on federal judges, it often refers to the presidents who appointed them.  This tendency reflects that many people think that ideology influences judges’ decisions.  A wealth of research supports this sentiment.  We believe something is missing in this account: the importance of interpersonal relationships among judges in determining the influence of …

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How State and Protester Violence Affect Protest Dynamics

Though formal and empirical research has established the importance of large protests, their dynamics remain less understood.  Empirical investigations have generated contradictory results for decades, making repression and protest dynamics an enduring puzzle.  Studying these dynamics has been difficult because existing methodologies generate coarse (ordinal) estimates of violence and have difficulty measuring the size of …

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Partisan Enclaves and Information Bazaars: Mapping Selective Exposure to Online News

Today, the US media market is both “high choice” and fragmented.  This situation stands in stark contrast to the information environment of the 1970s and 1980s, when the three major television networks (i.e., ABC, CBS, NBC) and the similarity of their news programming created a true “information commons” shared by virtually all Americans. Today’s media …

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Audits strengthen electoral accountability in South Africa

Does information about government performance and corruption shape voter behaviour? Canonical theories of retrospective accountability suggest that it should, as voters reward their politicians for good performance and punish them for bad performance. Audits of financial management in government are an increasingly prominent source of such information in countries around the world, particularly when conducted …

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Due Diligence: How Irreversibility Risks Shape Senate Delay in the Confirmation of U.S. Federal Executive Nominees

In fiscal year 2020, the U.S. federal executive branch employed approximately 97.07% of civilian employees (excluding those employed in The U.S. Postal Service or serving in uniformed military positions) housed within the three branches of the U.S. federal government (Federal Workforce Statistics and Sources: OPM and OMB 2021: 6, Table 3: https://sgp.fas.org/crs/misc/R43590.pdf). In short, the …

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Why Consolidating Executive Budgetary Powers Benefitted Both the President and Congress: Reconsidering the Importance of the U.S. Budget and Accounting Act of 1921

A known critical element of executive authority involves how power is allocated among the president and administrative agencies. Less appreciated is how the allocation of powers between presidents and the bureaucracy is vital for understanding both coordination and power-sharing that takes place between governmental branches. The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 (BAA) reforms sought …

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The Morning After: Minister Purges after Failed Coup Attempts in Dictatorships

Coup attempts are frequent events: Since 1945, there have on average been around 7 coup attempts each year. This is unlikely to change anytime soon. In 2021, coup attempts have taken place in Niger, Sudan, Myanmar, and several other places. While successful coups often make the headlines, half of all coup attempts fail. This is …

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Like parent, like child: both social and genetic factors account for parent-child similarities in voter turnout

One of the most robust empirical facts in the political science literature is that children resemble their parents along with a number of political behaviors and attitudes. In this study, we focus on such parent-child similarities (or so-called intergenerational transmission) in voter turnout. Differences in political participation related to family background carry special significance because …

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How Humiliation Motivates War

International relations theories often assume that actors make military conflict decisions unemotionally, weighing the costs and benefits as a computer might. However, abundant historical examples suggest this is not the case. According to Bob Woodward’s account, President Trump responded to the news that the Syrian regime, led by Bashar al-Assad, had used chemical weapons by …

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Do Major-Power Interventions Encourage the Onset of Civil Conflict?

Major-power interventions in civil wars are extremely common: since the 1950s, close to half of the civil conflicts involve a major power and a third feature intervention by multiple powers. While scholars have amassed considerable evidence that rebel groups indeed anticipate the responses of potential interveners on the eve of conflict, the impact of an …

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How Petitioning is Linked to the Origins and Development of Standing Committees

Standing committees play a crucial role in the work of modern legislatures. A casual glance at recent news headlines makes this clear: in the current 117th Congress, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has been hard at work on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the House Ways and Means Committee recently presented a …

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Do Politicians Discriminate Against Constituents with an Immigration Background?

In this year’s German federal election campaign, voters with an immigrant background, who constitute ten percent of the electorate, played a remarkably small role in the appeals and mobilization efforts of the major parties. When representatives of the Turkish community asked the Bundestag candidates about their positions on topics important to immigrant voters, less than …

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Agricultural comparative advantage explains US legislators’ support for trade agreements

In a new paper at the Journal of Politics, “Agricultural Comparative Advantage and Legislators’ Support for Trade Agreements”, Francesco Amodio, Leonardo Baccini, Giorgio Chiovelli, and Michele Di Maio find evidence that comparative advantage in agriculture predicts how legislators vote on the ratification of preferential trade agreements in Congress. Implementing trade liberalization is often a controversial policy …

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Editorial Insights: Registered Reports

We introduce Registered Reports as a new article format at the Journal of Politics. A Registered Report is a form of an empirical research article in which the theory, methods and proposed analysis are pre-registered, reviewed, and in-principle-accepted for publication prior to data access. We introduce Registered Reports as a trial and will report on …

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Apologize? Attack? How Governments Navigate International Law Violations

Earlier this month, the United States joined more than 40 other countries in announcing the coordination of war crimes investigations in Ukraine. By signing a political declaration in the Hague—the headquarters of the International Criminal Court (ICC)—the Biden administration took its latest step toward recalibrating the US relationship with the ICC. The policy shift was …

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Do media frames of the opiod epidemic shape public support for treatment?

The opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing public health problems facing the United States. Drug overdose deaths are a leading cause of injury-related death and over 70% involve opioids. More than half a million Americans died of opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2020 and a record of over 100,000 Americans died of opioid-related …

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Which legislators are more effective lawmakers when there is no majority party? The answer may surprise you.

What explains legislative effectiveness in presidential systems where executives often lack majority support in the legislature? In most presidential democracies, executives are the primary lawmakers and agenda-setters. Yet, we know little about the relative significance of bills produced by individual legislators, nor their ability to advance them through the legislative process. Drawing on data from …

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