Driven by our vision of increasing the global reach of political science research and the American Political Science Review (ASPR), we have embraced every opportunity to improve this esteemed journal since the moment we took over the editorship. Over the past twelve months, we moved forthcoming APSR articles to FirstView, introduced the letter as a new publication format, and partnered with Overleaf to create an APSR-specific LaTeX template to facilitate collaborative work. With this new volume, we are excited to introduce a new APSR cover.
Since APSR’s inception in 1906, it has seen various front cover designs. Perhaps the biggest change happened in 2002, when a background photograph replaced the previously simple and colorful typeset cover. This cover layout was initiated by PS: Political Science and Politics in 1988, and Perspectives on Politics followed suit with its first publication the following year, in 2003. In 2010, the American Political Science Association (APSA) moved to harmonize the layout of its three journals by coordinating their typeset and unifying the branding. The cover photo always changed from issue to issue, keying into the theme of the first article of the issue, and the Notes from the Editor(s) would include an explanation of the chosen graphic.
Although editors are not marketing experts, with the help of Cambridge University Press and the APSA, we are changing the appearance of APSR to represent its position as the premier scholarly outlet of the APSA. We believe that the cover of the APSR should reflect our scientific identity rather than one of a striking magazine. In this vein, we have stopped selecting a lead article, thereby ending the need for a front cover graphic. All of our publications go through the same editorial peer-review process and are deemed to be cutting-edge scientific research by peers. By eliminating a lead article, we allow our readers to select their own lead article instead. As we continue the APSR tradition of publishing articles from all subfields in political science and neighboring disciplines, we hope that this will strengthen the relationship to our readers and contributors.
Turning now to the content of our new issue, during the lame-duck session of the 111th U.S. Senate, the Democratic majority was aware that they would lose monopoly agenda-setting power soon but still had an opportunity to pass legislation. Despite the prediction that Republicans would use dilatory tactics to “kill the clock,” the Senate was surprisingly productive in passing both the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) and ratifying the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). But how do we make sense of this? Christian Fong and Keith Krehbiel address the role of dilatory tactics in their article, “Limited Obstruction.” Using a formal model, they demonstrate that, under time constraints, opposition parties that cannot prevent a majority party from passing legislation outright may nonetheless be able to influence the agenda by engaging in dilatory tactics that slow down—but do not stop—the legislative process. The flexible, parsimonious model the authors develop provides a useful starting point for understanding the role of obstruction in many institutional contexts, including lawmaking in legislatures, veto bargaining, and policy-making in government bureaucracies.
In “Ideology, Grandstanding, and Strategic Party Disloyalty in the British Parliament,” Jonathan B. Slapin, Justin H. Kirkland, Joseph A. Lazzaro, Patrick A. Leslie, and Tom O'Grady inquire into the determinants of rebellion by Members of Parliaments (MP) in Great Britain. The authors argue that extreme MPs are more likely to rebel against their own party if it is in office rather than in opposition, because the signal that rebellion sends depends on party status. The empirical analysis is based on a novel dataset of parliamentary votes and speeches used for estimating the position of MPs covering the House of Commons from 1992 to 2015. A comprehensive quantitative analysis indicates that MP behavior depends on extremity and party status and is used to reflect on recent developments in the Labour Party under Corbyn.
Amy Catalinac puts to test the validity of the impact of candidate positioning in different electoral systems in “Positioning under Alternative Electoral Systems: Evidence from Japanese Candidate Election Manifestos.” She analyzes the election manifestos for eight House of Representatives elections in Japan, which took place on either side of a 1994 electoral reform that changed Japan's electoral system from a single nontransferable vote in multimember districts to a mixed-member majoritarian system comprising two tiers, one of single member districts and the other of proportional representation. She finds that candidate positions converge in single-member districts or when there is no intraparty competition, whereas positions diverge in multimember districts or when there is intraparty competition. She also finds that the pressure to converge is reduced when a landslide victory is expected.
In the decade after 2001, terrorism in Pakistan claimed the lives of 35,000 people. In “Secular Party Rule and Religious Violence in Pakistan,” Gareth Nellis and Niloufer Siddiqui argue that existing theory is ambiguous on whether the electoral success of secular parties influences the reduction of violence. On the one hand, one might argue that religiously motivated militants target those areas that vote secularists into office. On the other hand, secular party politicians, reliant on the support of violence-hit communities, may face powerful electoral incentives to vanquish attacks. Furthermore, candidates bent on preventing bloodshed might self-select into such parties. Using Pakistan to empirically test four reasons why and how officeholders’ partisanship might impact local religious conflict, they find that secularist rule causes a sizable reduction in local religious conflict. The analyses suggest that the result is a consequence of politicians in secular parties facing electoral penalties if religious violence took place and not from politician selection. The effect is concentrated in regions with denser police presence, highlighting the importance of state capacity for suppressing religious disorder.
In many democracies, public employees constitute a sizeable share of members of parliament. In “Public Employees as Politicians: Evidence from Close Elections,” Ari Hyytinen, Jaakko Meriläinen, Tuuka Saarimaa, Otto Toivanen, and Janne Tukiainen ask whether and to what degree public employees in parliaments have positive effects on public spending as one indicator for the strength and importance of the public sector. They study local politics in Finland, because it has a relatively large public sector and being member of a local council is only a part-time job. In addition, the local electoral system allows them to exploit variations in employee representation and to construct an instrumental variable. They find that a higher number of public employees on local councils is positively related to spending and conclude that this is because of the employees’ informational advantage over other council members.
In “When Order Affects Performance: Culture, Behavioral Spillovers, and Institutional Path Dependence,” Jenna Bednar and Scott E. Page make a convincing case for the argument that the standard approach of analyzing institutional effects ignores the cultural context of these institutions. While seminal and remarkable case studies and analytical narratives in the tradition of historical institutionalism are useful for the understanding of institutional effects in their specific context, culture is largely treated exogenously, making it difficult to generate systematic knowledge that can be applied across cases. The authors offer a general framework that provides a structure for the analysis of the effect of culture on institutional performance. They show that this modeling framework can be used to explain how, and under what behavioral conditions, institutional performance is dependent on the sequencing of institutions. Overall, their modelling framework allows us to explore how past institutional choices create a context in which future institutions are placed.
Patti Tamara Lenard uses analytic and normative tools in “Democratic Citizenship and Denationalization” to answer the question of whether democratic states can denationalize (revoke the citizenship of) those citizens who are believed to pose dangers to others. In light of recent terrorist attacks, political scholars are once again debating the role of denationalization, which has been largely in disuse in democratic states. Answering in the negative, Lenard constructs an elaborate defense of the right of citizenship based on the interests individuals have in residential security. She uses this argument to then respond to two general claims for revocation laws: that states may denationalize individuals who pose a threat to others or to the state and that dual citizens may have a nationality revoked as the second state is also able to protect the individual-in-question's rights.
In “Durkheim on Social Justice: The Argument from ‘Organic Solidarity,’” Lisa Herzog uses a thinker—Emile Durkheim—typically claimed by sociologists and social scientists to intervene in vital debates about justice in normative political theory. Herzog argues that the overlooked concept of “organic solidarity” introduced by Durkheim in “The Division of Labor in Society” can enable a distinctive critique of inequality by emphasizing the need for a spontaneous division of labor to secure social cohesion. Herzog proposes Durkheim's argument as an alternative to theories that rely on more moralistic assumptions as a means of centering the debate back onto the importance of social trust and the perception of social justice in society.
“Collective Action and Representation in Autocracies: Evidence from Russia's Great Reforms,” by Paul Castañeda Dower, Evgeny Finkel, Scott Gehlbach, and Steven Nafziger, adds new insights to the analysis of political transitions and democratization. A central question in this study is whether the ability of an excluded group to overcome collective action problems and to cause social unrest makes representation more or less likely. The study uses novel historical data on unrest and representation in mid-nineteenth-century Imperial Russia. In a series of regression models testing observable implications and by means of instrumental variables, the authors find that higher levels of unrest are negatively related to the degree of representation on the local level. This finding confirms a key prediction of the influential Acemoglu–Robinson model on political transition. However, in a second empirical analysis focusing on the mechanism of this model, the authors find opposing evidence that contradicts the same model. In light of the conflicting empirical evidence, this study points to the necessity to reconsider existing models.
In “The Minimal Persuasive Effects of Campaign Contact in General Elections: Evidence from 49 Field Experiments,” Joshua L. Kalla and David E. Broockman provide a comprehensive meta-analysis demonstrating that the average marginal effect of campaign contact and advertising near general elections is very close to zero. The value of this sort of meta-analysis (increasingly common in the clinical trials literature but rare in political science) is in synthesizing evidence from all available relevant studies. Kalla and Broockman's study does not “merely” leverage the existing evidence base through a meta-analysis, it contributes several new experiments to fill some of the gaps in this experimental literature. The finding that there are limited opportunities for campaigns to persuade voters near general elections has implications not only for campaigns but also for the political science question of how and when citizens make their voting decisions. While this is not an article with a grand theory, it is an article with grand evidence, and we expect that it will be widely referenced and engaged with in the future.
Joshua D. Clinton and Michael W. Sances address the classic question of whether public policy influences political behavior in “The Politics of Policy: The Initial Mass Political Effects of Medicaid Expansion in the States.” They focus on the highly salient case of the Affordable Care Act (commonly called “Obamacare”) and ask whether and how much it has influenced voter turnout in the United States. Clinton and Sances identify a cross-state variation in the implementation of the ACA due to a 2012 Supreme Court decision. Before this decision, some states had already expanded Medicaid while others had not. The authors use this variation in state implementation to construct a spatial regression-discontinuity design leveraging borders of states with and without expansion as a cutoff. Based on an extensive quantitative analysis and a comparison of turnout rates across multiple elections, Clinton and Sances conclude that policy affects politics. The evidence suggests a persistent effect on registration and a short-run effect on turnout.
In “Seeing the World Through the Other's Eye: An Online Intervention Reducing Ethnic Prejudice,” Gábor Simonovits, Gábor Kézdi, and Péter Kardos perform an experiment on whether prejudice against minority groups can be reduced with an online perspective-taking game. The results suggest that online games allowing users to adopt the perspective of a marginalized ethnic minority group can affect individual attitudes and behavior. Playing the online game in this article's experiment produced positive attitudes toward Roma people in Hungary, which is the context of the study and the game, as well as other minority groups. Moreover, the vote intention for far-right parties declined, thereby pointing to the success of online interventions in altering attitudes toward minority groups and overtly racist party politics.
INSTRUCTIONS TO CONTRIBUTORS
Our submission guidelines can be found at the APSA website at: http://www.apsanet.org/APSR-Submission-Guidelines.
Do not hesitate, in any cases of doubt, to consult the APSR Editorial Offices with more specific questions by sending an e-mail to: email@example.com.