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In 2005, Missouri and Tennessee tightened eligibility for their public health insurance programs, resulting in widespread coverage losses. Leveraging county-level variation in subsequent disenrollment, I show that voters in Tennessee punished the incumbent governor for the Medicaid cuts. In Missouri, by contrast, disenrollment had no impact on the subsequent gubernatorial election but did increase support for Democrats in 2006 state legislative elections, possibly due to the strategic entry and exit of candidates. In both states, the loss of Medicaid coverage was associated with lower support for Democratic presidential candidates, although these declines appear part of a longer-term trend that preceded the coverage loss. The results speak to the potential political costs of welfare spending cuts and the electoral consequences of reducing income-targeted social programs.
Low and uneven turnout is a serious problem for local democracy. Fortunately, one simple reform—shifting the timing of local elections so they are held on the same day as national contests—can substantially increase participation. Considerable research shows that on-cycle November elections generally double local voter turnout compared with stand-alone local contests. But does higher turnout mean a more representative electorate? On that critical question, the evidence is slim and mixed. We combine information on election timing with detailed microtargeting data that includes voter demographic information to examine how election timing influences voter composition in city elections. We find that moving to on-cycle elections in California leads to an electorate that is considerably more representative in terms of race, age, and partisanship—especially when these local elections coincide with a presidential election. Our results suggest that on-cycle elections can improve local democracy.
Political scientists have largely overlooked the democratic challenges inherent in the governance of U.S. public education—despite profound implications for educational delivery and, ultimately, social mobility and economic growth. In this study, we consider whether the interests of adult voters who elect local school boards are likely to be aligned with the needs of the students their districts educate. Specifically, we compare voters and students in four states on several policy-relevant dimensions. Using official voter turnout records and rich microtargeting data, we document considerable demographic differences between voters who participate in school board elections and the students attending the schools that boards oversee. These gaps are most pronounced in majority nonwhite jurisdictions and school districts with the largest racial achievement gaps. Our novel analysis provides important context for understanding the political pressures facing school boards and their likely role in perpetuating educational and, ultimately, societal inequality.
The distribution of income lies at the intersection of states and markets, both influencing and responding to government policy. Reflecting this reality, increasing research focuses on the political origins of inequality in the United States. However, the literature largely assumes—rather than tests—the political mechanisms thought to affect the income gap. This study provides a timely reassessment of one such mechanism. Leveraging variation in labor laws between states and differences in the timing of adoption of right-to-work (RTW) legislation, I examine one political mechanism blamed by many for contributing to inequality. Using a variety of panel designs, I find little evidence that RTW laws have been a major cause of growing income inequality, pointing to the importance of grounding theoretical arguments about the interrelationships between states and markets in a sound empirical reality.
Why do legislative parties emerge in democracies where elections are contested by individual candidates, rather than national party organizations? And can parties survive in the absence electoral pressure for their members to work on shared political goals? In this article, we examine the emergence and maintenance of party discipline in an atypical legislative context: California's 1878–79 constitutional convention. The unusual partisan alignments among the delegates at the California convention provide us with a unique empirical opportunity to test election- and policy-based explanations for legislative discipline. Our study combines a careful reading of the historical record with a statistical analysis of roll call votes cast at the convention to show how leaders of the “Nonpartisan” majority held together their disparate coalition of Democratic and Republican members in the face of conflicting preferences, ideological divisions, and well-organized political opponents. Our findings provide evidence that cohesive parties can exist even in the absence of broadly shared electoral pressures or policy goals.
Empirical evidence suggests that voters in states with direct democracy feel better prepared to cast competent votes and that they do so at a greater rate than voters elsewhere. What causal mechanism explains why the presence of direct democracy leads to better civic citizenship and differences in political behavior? We use a survey experiment in which we randomly vary the text used to describe the policy proposals to consider one possible pathway that explains higher levels of political competence among voters in initiative states. In contrast to the focus on campaign mobilization in the existing literature, we rely on insights from consumer decision theory to derive testable hypotheses about voter behavior. We find evidence that voters in initiative states approach political campaigns in a fundamentally different way than voters in noninitiative states. In particular, we show that individuals in initiative states are less susceptible to framing effects—in our experiment, strategic efforts to craft a ballot measure's title and summary.
One of the most important problems of modern astrometry is constructing of an ideal inertial coordinate system. A bulk of up–to–date star catalogues is referenced to an equatorial frame, which is far from being really inertial, Some attempts were made to remove this defect by excluding both nutation and precession in right ascention [Guinet 1979, Murray, 1990]. This proposal seams to be a compromise between the existing tradition and the new requirements met by the modern astrometry.
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