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Policy Arguments Distilled

September 12, 2013 Leave a comment

Hello again! It’s been a while since we have blogged here, but this infographic by Dylan Matthews of Wonkblog is too good to not repost here. It succinctly captures how policy arguments progress.

Categories: Scholarship

The Onion on Absentee Voting

I am working on a rewrite of an article about why people choose to vote by mail, and I was reminded of this Onion infographic from the last election:

I just thought I would share.

Prop. 14 and California’s Minor Parties

So after not posting anything new for a while, you get a couple posts one right after the other.

My article, “Proposition 14 and California’s Minor Parties: A Case Study of Electoral Reform and Party Response,” is now available from the California Journal of Politics and Policy here (gated unfortunately; here’s the version I will be presenting at MPSA next month). Here’s the abstract:

In 2010, California voters enacted Proposition 14, the Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act, which changed California’s electoral system from single-member, plurality district elections to a top two (majority) runoff system. Although literature in comparative politics and formal theory suggests this change should help third parties in California, almost 80% fewer minor-party candidates filed for office in 2012 than in 2010. Indeed, 2012 saw the smallest number of minor-party candidates in California since 1966. Employing a mixed-methods approach, this paper examines different explanations for the decline in minor-party candidacies. Although most observers argue that Proposition 14 directly discouraged minor-party candidates from filing for office (because they likely would not make the runoff ballot), I argue that the decline results from three other factors: (1) a long-run decline in the California Libertarian Party, (2) a legislature-driven increase in the filing fee required from minor-party candidates, and, most importantly, (3) party elites foregoing candidate recruitment in 2012.

If their publishing schedule looks like last year’s, it will be in the upcoming June issue.

Your 112th Congress: Most. Polarized. Ever.

The DW-NOMINATE scores for the 112th Congress were released by VoteView yesterday (original post). The title of this post gives the punchline away, but according to the NOMINATE measure the 112th Congress was the most polarized since Reconstruction. Here’s the graph to go with it:

NOMINATE uses every vote cast during a congress to estimate the ideological positions of each member. Since membership overlaps and individual members’ ideologies do not change much over time, it is possible to compare comparing the ideology of members today with members from the past. The measure is scaled from -1 (the most liberal member) to +1 (the most conservative member). What you see above is the ideological distance between the average Republican and the average Democrat in the House and Senate over time.

Where does all that polarization come from? Mostly the Republican Party, though note that this is not anything new. The average Republican has been getting more conservative since the mid-1970’s.

Here’s VoteView’s statement:

The 112th Congress closed unceremoniously this month with a series of votes (by the House and Senate) to avert the “fiscal cliff”. With this data, we can now analyze roll call voting in the 112th Congress in its entirety and place the amount of Congressional polarization seen over the last two years in historical context. … And … this phenomenon has been asymmetric: contemporary polarization of the parties is almost entirely due to the movement of congressional Republicans to the right. Polarization is measured as the difference between the Republican and Democratic means on the first DW-NOMINATE dimension, which represents the ideological (liberal-conservative) scale.

Dan O’Neill Goes All Tom Cruise in Seattle

September 6, 2011 2 comments

University of the Pacific Political Science and International Studies Professor Daniel O’Neill also participated in the recent Seattle meetings of the American Political Science Association.  He delivered a paper “Risky Business: China‘s Foreign Direct Investment and Aid to Developing Countries.”

Here’s the abstract for the paper:

Foreign direct investment (FDI) from China is increasingly destined for developing states with high corruption, weak rule of law and substantial political risk. To explain the ability of China’s state owned enterprises (SOEs) to invest successfully in such environments, I present a theory of how Chinese bilateral policies, particularly foreign aid, shape incentives for the leadership in the receiving country that constrain predatory behavior against Chinese SOEs. This creates a de facto insurance for Chinese investors in foreign states lacking the institutions shown to protect investments. Case studies of Chinese SOEs in Cambodia and Kazakhstan support the hypotheses. A main contribution of this study is in analyzing the effects of the policies of home (FDI source) country governments on outward foreign direct investment.

Who Builds Up Foreign Debt And Who Brings It Down

September 6, 2011 Leave a comment
A color-coded legend of forms of government. C...

Image via Wikipedia

At the recent meeting of the American Political Science Association, Pacific‘s Professor Yong Kyun Kim presented a poster “Who Builds Up Foreign Debt and Who Brings It Down?”  His student attributes a great deal of change in foreign debt to political institutions.  Here is his abstract:

We present an empirical analysis of the political determinants
of foreign-debt buildup and reduction
in developing countries. Three interesting patterns
stand out. First, most factors exhibit nonlinearity
when the dependent variable’s sign changes. Federalism,
for instance, helps prevent a large debt
buildup but does not promote a large debt reduction.
Second, some factors are symmetric in the
sense that they accelerate or dampen changes in
both directions. Presidential systems are associated
with a significant rise in foreign debt as well as
with its big fall. Finally, the way many political institutions
are related to changes in foreign debt differs
significantly across different levels of democracy.
Governments with a larger share of seats in
the legislature and left governments are better able
to bring their foreign debt down only if they are
highly democratic. When highly autocratic, they
make it less likely to happen. We show that political
institutions as a whole explain a great deal
of variation in the increase and decrease of foreign
debt and that they do so in a complex manner.

You can see Professor Kim’s poster here: ykimapsa2011.

Kelleher Takes Top Prize at 2011 PURCC

Graduating senior Chelsea Kelleher recently took home the top prize for oral presentations at the 2011 Pacific Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference. She was up against 23 other students from a variety of disciplines. Congrats Chelsea!

Here’s the abstract of her paper, which she completed as an independent research project under the direction of Prof. Keith Smith:

Is there a relationship between crime and Section 8 housing? In 2008, Atlantic Monthly journalist Hanna Rosin published an article investigating the relationship between high crime rates in the Memphis area and newly formed clusters of Section 8 recipients. She argues that the Section 8 program is responsible for the rise in crime rates for Memphis, Tennessee, and extends this conclusion to the rest of the United States, implicating a host of popular affordable housing programs as well. Housing advocates and policy makers were quick to respond to these allegations, arguing that Rosin had established no causal link between Section 8 and crime, and that her findings could not be verified for the country as a whole. This paper seeks to test the hypothesis that the presence of Section 8 housing increases crime rates in an area. To do this I use a controlled comparison of crime rates in six Stockton neighborhoods in 2009, using three pairs of neighborhoods matched by similar demographic characteristics. Drawing from crime statistics from the Stockton Police Department, I then examine their crime rates in comparison to their matches, before finally drawing a conclusion. The results reveal that there is insufficient evidence to state that there is a relationship between Section 8 and crime; while areas with higher poverty rates tended to experience more crime, whether or not they accepted Section 8 did not make a difference.

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