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February 16, 2004. Opening Night of “The Little Prince.” And it’s always fun to watch C-SPAN, isn’t it?. Partisanship and Elections. Party-ID is a form or brand loyalty Usually passed generation to generation SD, D, ID, I, IR, R, SR But the pillars have begun to crumble

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february 16 2004

February 16, 2004

Opening Night of “The Little Prince.”

And it’s always fun to watch C-SPAN, isn’t it?

partisanship and elections
Partisanship and Elections
  • Party-ID is a form or brand loyalty
  • Usually passed generation to generation
  • SD, D, ID, I, IR, R, SR
  • But the pillars have begun to crumble
  • Campaigns have become ever-more candidate-focused.
  • Growing disconnect between the partisanship of voters and elected officials
the traditional right
“The Traditional Right”

Religious

Support Bush 72%-17%

US should use preemptive strike

Gay relationships are “morally wrong”

Religion should play more important role in government

Oppose affirmative action

Tax cuts are best way to stimulate economy

Liberal

Conservative

“Traditional Conservatives”

16%

Secular

the traditional left
“The Traditional Left”

Religious

Support Kerry 79%-8%

US should not use preemptive strike

Support gay rights

Pro-immigration

Pro-affirmative action

Oppose tax cuts as economic policy

Basic health insurance is a right

“Traditional Liberals”

32%

Liberal

Conservative

Secular

the secular center
“The Secular Center”

Religious

Split evenly for President (42% Bush, 41% Kerry)

Strongly supports gay rights

Supports free trade

Believes strongly in separation of church and state

Oppose affirmative action

Less supportive of environment

Less likely to believe basic health insurance is a right

Liberal

Conservative

“Secular Centrists”

29%

Secular

the religious center
“The Religious Center”

Religious

“Religious Centrists”

23%

Liberal

Conservative

Lean Bush 51%-34%

Support affirmative action

Support the environment

Gay relationships are “morally wrong”

Religion should play more important role in government

Highest concentration of African Americans and Latinos

Secular

the political personality of a new generation
The Political Personality of a New Generation

Religious

“Traditional Liberals”

32%

“Religious Centrists”

23%

Liberal

Conservative

“Secular Centrists”

29%

“Traditional Conservatives”

16%

Secular

slide8

L

S

R

C

Democrat

Republican

L

S

R

C

Liberal

Conservative

Political Personality Index

L=Traditional Liberals

R=Traditional Conservatives

R=Religious Centrists

S=Secular Centrists

R

S

C

L

Politically Inactive

Politically Active

L

R

S

C

Optimistic

Pessimistic

slide9

S

L

C

R

Not Religious

Religious

L

S

R

C

Foreign PolicyLiberal

Foreign PolicyConservative

Political Personality Index

L

R

S

C

Economic Policy

Liberal

Economic Policy

Conservative

L

R

S

C

Domestic Policy

Liberal

Domestic Policy

Conservative

R

C

L

S

Gay Rights

Liberal

Gay Rights

Conservative

redistricting
Redistricting

“In a normal democracy, voters choose their representatives. In America, it is rapidly becoming the other way around.”

  • Most countries hand over redistricting to an independent board
  • America: Every 10 years after a census, state legislature redraw congressional boundaries to be approved by the state’s governor
effect of voting rights act
Effect of Voting Rights Act
  • Majority-minority districts
    • Goal: chance for minorities to elect a candidate of the same race
partisan redistricting
Partisan Redistricting
  • Software allows for detailed electoral maps, geographic information systems
  • Goal of incumbent protection: safety first
  • 2000: Reelection rate of 98%
  • Lack of competition depresses voter turnout
  • Categories of districts
    • Safe seats where incumbent almost assured of victory
    • Competitive districts where the parties focus their resources
alternative systems
Alternative Systems
  • Iowa: civil servants draw maps without regard to partisanship
  • Five other states: authority in a bipartisan redistricting commission
interpreting election results
Interpreting Election Results
  • Based on economic conditions
  • National events at the time of elections
    • Scandals
    • Foreign affairs
    • Public dissatisfaction with Executive
models of congressional election results
Models of Congressional Election Results

“The better the economy is performing, the better the congressional candidates of the president’s party do on election day.”

  • Tufte: division of Congressional vote related to economy and presidential popularity
  • Jacobson: 70% of change in % of House seats held by President’s party explained by Exposure, Change in Real Income per capita, Presidential approval
  • Most aggregate studies are based on the assumption that personal financial well-being is the criterion used by voters
presidential coattails
Presidential Coattails
  • Winning presidential candidates lead some congressional candidates of the same party to victory
  • Erratic and usually modest in recent elections
national elections and strategic politics
National Elections and Strategic Politics
  • Many voters evaluate the candidates as individuals with little reference to national politics and personalities
  • Decision to run for Congress is strategic
    • Evaluate personal odds of winning
    • Evaluate party’s odds on aggregate level
  • Favored party usually fields more formidable challengers, incumbents of unfavorable party may retire
  • Campaign contributors make similar evaluations
national elections and strategic politics20
National Elections and Strategic Politics
  • Direct and strong relationship between relative levels of spending by challengers and size of partisan seat swing
  • “Quality of challenger” is a large determinant of election outcome
  • Effects of national conditions on a congressional election depend on how the candidate uses the national issues
campaign themes
Campaign Themes
  • National conditions affect the themes that are available for a congressional campaign
  • Incumbents take credit for good things in government while disassociating selves from government failures
  • Even during times of dissatisfaction with the government, it is difficult to unseat an incumbent
house elections
House Elections
  • 1992
    • 110 new members
    • The Year of the Woman, African-Americans and Hispanics
    • Partisan change modest
    • Environmental forces: stagnant economy, divided government, reapportionment
    • House Bank Overdraft Scandal
house elections23
House Elections
  • 1994
    • Republican Revolution in the House: 230R-204D = largest partisan swing since 1948
    • Capitalize on blaming unified Democratic government for country’s problems
    • Nationalized election: Local choice issues framed on national terms
    • Clinton Problem: alienated groups of Democratic voters, cultural perceptions
    • Contract with America: little impact on voters
house elections24
House Elections
  • 1996
    • Republicans lose only 3 House seats in spite of public’s negative perception of Congress
    • Most of the seats Republicans won in 1992 were seats Republicans should have won before
    • Democrats no longer incumbents and had difficult time recruiting strong challengers
    • Congressional elections were not nationalized, they were individualized
    • Presidential campaign does not help Democratic Congressional candidates, scandal
house elections25
House Elections
  • 1998
    • 2nd time since Civil War that incumbent president’s party picks up seats
    • Voters endorse status quo in spite of Presidential scandal and impeachment
    • Public views impeachment as partisan
    • Both parties fail to recruit high quality challengers
house elections26
House Elections
  • 2000
    • Reflect close partisan balance, national forces seem neutral
    • Unprecedented amounts of money spent in highly competitive districts
    • Republican campaigns focus on individual district issues
    • Few seats changed partisan control
house elections27
House Elections
  • 2002
    • Incumbent President’s party gains seats for 2nd mid-term election in a row (3rd time since Civil War)
    • Consequence of redistricting, terrorism
    • Presidential popularity scares off quality Democratic challengers
house elections28
House Elections
  • Lessons from Last 25 years
    • Potent issues and vigorous challenges needed to change the makeup of the House
    • Strength of challenger is KEY
    • Jacobson defines strong challengers as already
      • Holding elected office
      • Spending at least $300,000
race and the race
Race and the Race
  • The Harvey Gantt case
credits
Credits
  • Presentation based on: “How to Rig an Election,” The Economist, 4/25/2002, http://www.economist.com/world/na/displaystory.cfm?story_id=1099030 Accessed 2/14/2005.
  • Images on cover from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/3a/Gerrymander.jpeg Accessed 2/14/2005; San Antonio Express-News, 2003.
  • Presentation based on: Jacobson, Gary C., The Politics of Congressional Elections, 6th edition (New York: Pearson Longman, 2004) pp. 151-217.
  • Image on cover of The Politics of Congressional Elections from www.amazon.com Accessed 2/14/2005.
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