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Survey results. Party ID 36 Democrats 12 Republicans 6 Independent Last spring in this class it was 39 D, 20 R, 3 I 2008 vote 41 Obama (78.8%) 11 McCain (21.2%), 1 “Obamican” 1 did not vote. What’s next? .

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Survey results
Survey results

  • Party ID

    • 36 Democrats

    • 12 Republicans

    • 6 Independent

    • Last spring in this class it was 39 D, 20 R, 3 I

  • 2008 vote

    • 41 Obama (78.8%)

    • 11 McCain (21.2%), 1 “Obamican”

    • 1 did not vote

What s next
What’s next?

  • Electoral context: big gains for Dems in 2008. First unified control of government for them since 1993.

  • Overwhelming public support for Obama (over 80% in most polls).

  • However, comparisons to 1933 aren’t entirely appropriate: stronger Republican opposition and smaller Democratic majorities.

Internal partisan politics
Internal partisan politics

Good news for Obama: largest Democratic majorities since 1993. Bad news: expanding the number of Democrats means bringing in more moderates. Role of the Blue Dogs – already grumbling about the deficits.

Republican response:

compromise and bipartisanship

or repeat of the late 1980s and

early 1990s? Can Senate

moderates contain the more

partisan House?

Representation in congress

Representation in Congress

Descriptive and Substantive, Responsiveness and Responsibility (normative theory)

Descriptive representation a congress that looks like us
Descriptive representation: a Congress that “looks like us”?

  • Gender. Year of the woman – 1992. Clarence Thomas hearings, Anita Hill (1991). Nearly 50% increase in the number of women: 24 new women House members, 5 new senators. All-male Judiciary Committee: “they just don’t get it.”

  • Race – 1992, racial redistricting. 1982 Voting Rights Act, Thornburg v. Gingles (1986).

  • Other characteristics: class, religion, occupation, and previous political experience.

Substantive representation
Substantive representation us”?

  • Representation on policy outputs, serving some interests, whether local or national. Link between descriptive and substantive? Why does descriptive representation matter?

  • Theories of representation:

    • delegate – represent the preferences of your constituents,

    • trustee – represent what is best for the country, what you think is the right thing to do,

    • politico – mixture of the two: delegate on issues on which constituents have intense views; trustee on issues that are important for national interests.

Representation cont
Representation, cont. us”?

  • Determining how to serve constituents’ interests.

    • Objective interests: needs. Differences in types of districts: income, home-ownership, college education. Poverty, health.

    • Subjective interests: wants. What do people expect of their members of Congress? Constituency service, bring home the benefits. Explosion in earmarks. Link to delegate/trustee?

    • Mechanisms for monitoring the constituency: town hall meetings, polling, media, letters. One member said, “I seldom have to sound out my constituents because I think so much like them that I know how to react to almost any proposal.” Home style, “one of us.” Talk about later in the semester.

  • Geographic vs. national representation. The random national constituency (Andrew Rehfeld). Pro and cons?

Representation cont1
Representation, cont. us”?

  • Accountability

    • Three faces of democratic accountability (Sean Theriault). First face – vote with constituents, rewarded with reelection. Second face – vote against constituent interests, booted out of office. Third face – Profiles in Courage: vote for national interests, acting like a trustee. May survive if member is able to convince constituents. Problem in measuring the second face? How would you go about this?

    • Mechanisms for accountability: fire alarm/police patrol. Potential challenger, activated latent interests.

Representation accountability cont
Representation, accountability, cont. us”?

  • Competition hypothesis (minority party provides accountability).

  • Attention hypothesis (when constituents attend to the fire alarm, member more responsive).

  • Retribution hypothesis: member defeated for going against constituents (both defeat and reduced margin of victory).

Representation accountability cont1
Representation, accountability, cont. us”?

  • Issues in measuring representational linkages: measuring public’s preferences. This issue would not even be raised with strong programmatic parties. Only because of individualistic political system that this is even a concern. How to measure?

    • Direct and indirect.

    • Alternatives to measuring constituent preferences: potential challengers, anticipatory representation of latent opinions. Preempt challengers by taking their issues.

    • Constituency service/home style.

    • Party competition/national representation: “restless innovation.” Minority party always looking for ways to become the majority party.

Race and representation representing minority interests in a majority rule institution
Race and Representation: representing minority interests in a majority-rule institution

  • Background on my research on this topic.

    • Explaining vs. understanding.

    • Role of an outsider. Question during deposition on race about the race of my research assistants.

    • Shaw v. Reno (1993) and nature of representation: assumed that the black-majority districts were divisive. Not consistent with what I had observed.

Race and representation
Race and Representation a majority-rule institution

  • Normative theory, legal work, and empirical scholars. Gaps between these subfields: speak different languages and don’t speak to each other.

  • Racial gap on measures of objective interests: income, poverty, health, crime, education. Subjective constituent interests in black majority districts: racial, part-racial, and non-racial issues.

  • Racial gap on subjective interests is only on racial and part-racial issues, not non-racial.

Race and representation1
Race and Representation a majority-rule institution

  • Black majority districts as a vehicle for representing black interests. Alternative views: multiracial society. Race is a socially constructed concept: NYTimes Magazine story about the third-grader having to choose.

  • Critiques of black majority districts

    • From the left – “triumph of tokenism.” Need more fundamental changes. Lani Guinier: proportional interest representation. Similar to John Calhoun’s theories of concurrent majorities and nullification before the Civil War.

Critiques of black majority districts cont
Critiques of black majority districts, cont. a majority-rule institution

  • From the right. BMDs undermine a color blind society and deracialization. Whites do an adequate job of representing black interests.

  • From the center. BMDs undermine Democratic majorities by concentrating black voters. How would this work? Also, BMDs place a ceiling on the level of black representation that is possible. Role of influence districts.

Race and representation cont
Race and Representation, cont. a majority-rule institution

  • Politics of difference and the politics of commonality. Color blind vs. balancing commonality. Types of members elected in 1992.

  • Examples: Bennie Thompson or Cynthia McKinney compared to Robert Scott or Albert Wynn.

Responsiveness vs responsibility
Responsiveness vs. responsibility a majority-rule institution

  • The institutional dilemma: collective action problems when members acting in their own self interest undermine the collective good of “institutional maintenance” and the common resource of the prestige of the institution. Tendency for members to “free ride.” Run for Congress by running against Congress.

  • The policy dilemma. Public, general interest versus constituent interests.

Alternatives to legislative representation
Alternatives to legislative representation a majority-rule institution

  • Dominant executive. Looming struggle over Iraq policy. More congressional oversight. Presidential signing statements.

  • Direct democracy – initiative and referendum. 24 states have it. Limits of this approach: extreme measures (“jail for judges” example from South Dakota) and many issues are too complex to be summarized on a ballot. Ross Perot and the 1992 election: electronic town hall meetings.