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Chapter 5 explores social response to the 2011 parliamentary election. These chapters are central to my explanation that links regime change to citizens’ action through opposition and regime strategies in elections. Based on unique original data supplemented with national surveys, this analysis provides the first systematic investigations of individual responses to the information revealed through electoral contests and the opposition call to protest. A crucial innovative feature of each of the chapters is that it considers the behavior of three groups: protesters, regime rally participants or ralliers, and nonparticipants. The first section of the chapter discusses opposition contestation over the vote protest concept and the most efficacious strategy to express dissent at the ballot box. The second section of the chapter explores the individual decision to engage in different protest strategies, showing that while vote protest did undermine regime support, the lack of opposition agreement on one strategy, obscured this information. Nonetheless, the vote protest laid the groundwork for post-election protest by raising awareness and engaging individuals in the process.
The formal model presented in the chapter underscores that control over ballot access conveys a significant power advantage to autocratic incumbents. This control leaves electoral oppositions with few options. Yet, even with this power asymmetry, the model demonstrates that elections force autocrats to make strategic choices that reveal information about regime strengths and weaknesses. Banning strong opponents signals regime weakness. Committing fraud to secure victories signals that elections are not mechanisms of accountability. When opposition parties amplify this information, they can generate focal points to foster societal coordination, forcing the regime to respond with concessions or retribution. Depending on the size and structure of the mobilization, these changes can be sudden or incremental, generating uncertainty that has to be addressed in the inter-election period. Through this process, tightly controlled elections contested by weakly organized opposition parties can prompt regime shifts in a liberalizing or autocratic direction. The first part of the chapter presents the model discursively, and the second part formalizes the argument.
This chapter places recent events in the context of the theoretic framework. In 2024, President Putin and his government face the same challenge that it faced in 2008. Constitutional term limits mandate that Putin leave office, prompting broad speculation about its effect on the 2021 parliamentary elections and the presidential race. Consistent with the formal model, the regime banned the opposition in Moscow’s 2019 municipal elections and the opposition unified to send a protest signal. Popular response kicked off some of the largest protests in recent years. In response, the Kremlin increased the use of repression against protesters, a move that provided new information about the regime type. Voters carried the protest into the voting booth and sent a strong signal in support of opposition candidates. In addition, the Kremlin moved to manage the next national election cycle by instituting signification constitutional reform and launching new social welfare programs. The final section of the chapter highlights the contributions of the study for comparative politics and Russia regional studies.
Political scientists have long been interested in studying the elective office-holding of disadvantaged groups. However, this line of research primarily focuses on the representation of ethnic minorities in the U.S. Congress and identifies three types of determinants of minority candidates' electoral success: the demographic and political make-up of constituents, candidates' personal traits, and macro-level electoral rules. Much less attention is given to minority candidates' electoral success in statehouses. In this paper, we ask: what factors promote the electoral success of minority candidates in state legislatures? Beyond voter characteristics and electoral rules, we attribute minority candidates' electoral success to the social capital possessed by their in-group constituents. We theorize that social capital manifested as civic engagement and social connectedness, can become political capital for minority candidates. Using the Current Population Surveys Civic Engagement Supplement, we validate state-level measures of social capital by race and ethnicity. Linking group social capital to state legislative election outcomes, we find the stock of minority social capital contributes to the electoral success of minority candidates, while white social capital decreases minority candidates' electoral success. Key findings suggest social capital is a form of political capital for disadvantaged groups with private benefits for in-group candidates.
In both Poland and Hungary new constitutions were adopted after elections that provided a new government with the formal capacity to control the process by excluding opposition interests. However, whereas in Poland the constitution was in the end the result of a compromise among a plurality of political interests, in Hungary the government unilaterally imposed the constitution with negative consequences for the future of democracy in the country. In this chapter, we argue that a more consensual constitution-making process was possible in Poland because opposition forces, in spite of their meager results in terms of parliamentary representation, were able to exert influence over the process through extra-institutional and institutional means. In contrast to Hungary, where opposition groups were extremely weak or discredited, in Poland extra-parliamentary opposition maintained significant support among voters and functioned as an effective political constraint on dominant parties. Thanks to their strength outside formal political institutions, opposition forces in Poland were able to induce incumbents to make changes in the constitution-making procedures that allowed them to have some clout in the drafting of the constitution.
When it comes to electing the chief executive of the United States, the presidential debates play an important role in shaping public opinion and the choices facing voters. Having a fair process in place to determine who is eligible to participate in the debates and to guarantee that the debates are conducted neutrally is crucial to ensuring the integrity of the electoral process as a whole. In the past, controversies have arisen concerning which candidates should be invited to participate, which political parties should be represented, and whether the debates have been conducted in a way that is fair and neutral. Most of these controversies have never been resolved satisfactorily. Today, much more work needs to be done to ensure that our presidential primary and general election debates live up to their potential to provide truly diverse policy views to the public and are conducted in a manner that is wholly free from bias. Gender bias in terms of the questions asked of the candidates was evident in 2016, and other kinds of biases may appear in the future. Problematically, the eligibility rules for the general presidential debates have remained unchanged for decades. Meanwhile, government oversight of the debates remains virtually non-existent.
Governments have great difficulties designing politically sustainable responses to rising public debt. These difficulties are grounded in a limited understanding of the popular constraints during periods of fiscal pressure. For instance, an influential view claims that fiscal austerity does not entail significant political risk. But this research potentially underestimates the impact of austerity on votes because of strategic selection bias. This study addresses this challenge by conducting survey experiments in Spain, Portugal, Italy, the UK and Germany. In contrast to previous findings, the results show that a government's re-election chances greatly decrease if it proposes austerity measures. Voters object particularly strongly to spending cuts and, to a lesser extent, to tax increases. While voters also disapprove of fiscal deficits, they weight the costs of austerity policies more than their potential benefits for the fiscal balance. These findings are inconsistent with the policy recommendations of international financial institutions.
The goal of this book is to synthesize the existing research on social media and democracy. We present reviews of the literature on disinformation, polarization, echo chambers, hate speech, bots, political advertising, and new media. In addition, we
canvass the literature on reform proposals to address the widely perceived threats to
democracy. We seek to examine the current state of knowledge on social media and
democracy, to identify the many knowledge gaps and obstacles to research in this area,
and to chart a course for future research. We hope to advocate for this new field of
study and to suggest that universities, foundations, private firms, and governments
should commit to funding and supporting this research.
This article seeks to enhance our understanding of the European Parliament (EP) elections in an era of populist and anti-European Union (EU) politics. Specifically, it aims to evaluate both the conventional second-order elections theory as well as an alternative approach that regards EP elections as an arena for conflict between liberal-democratic Europeanism and populist, extremist and euroskeptic alternatives. It does so by deriving a series of hypotheses from both approaches and testing these with party-level data from all EU member states in the context of 2019 EP elections. Our results challenge both explanations. Party size is a robust predictor of electoral performance in EP elections, and its effect is moderated by electoral system design. While large parties lost votes across the EU, their losses were more pronounced in countries where national legislatures are elected under plurality or mixed systems. We find no evidence of incumbent losses or electoral cycle effects. Party-level populism, extremism and euroskepticism did not systematically predict electoral performance but party ideology appears to have moderated the effects of incumbency and party size. Incumbency was associated with vote gain among populist and far-right parties but not other parties, and the effect of size also varied across party ideologies. In sum, these results suggest that vote fragmentation in the 2019 EP elections is partly explained by electoral system design, while it was not driven by the desire to punish political incumbents. Populist and far-right parties in power appear to be particularly immune to punishing behavior often associated with EP elections.
Chapter 5’s newspaper analysis shows how partisan editors and correspondents reinforced and polarized partisan voters in how they framed the war’s progress, its racial implications, and electoral implications of the dead. For example, Democratic and Republican papers were equally likely to mention Union casualties, but anti-war Democratic papers framed deaths as senseless losses in a hopeless, misguided cause, while Republican papers framed them as heroic martyrs whose deaths required a redoubled devotion to victory. Democrats explicitly tied the dead to vote choice far more than Republicans did.
The COVID-19 pandemic has gendered implications for women's time and resources. The use of informal institutions that pose obstacles to women's electoral viability may also be particularly consequential at a time of rapid change, when election dates and procedures are being amended because of health concerns. Together, these dynamics suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic may impact women's electoral participation, support, and viability in meaningful ways. The November 2020 Brazilian municipal elections provide an opportunity to explore this. Employing data from an original survey of eligible individuals and aspirant candidates, we find that the main obstacle to women's representation is not personal political ambition or efforts but women's perceptions of their access to support for their candidacies. In the face of greater challenges, resilient aspirants are choosing to work harder to compensate for potential losses in campaign support and funds.
In Chapter 5, I draw on shifting standards theory, derived from social psychology research, to determine how and when voters hold candidates to gendered typicality standards. These standards provide voters with a comparative metric to assess whether a female and a male candidate have the qualifications needed for political office. These standards also clarify the subtle and pernicious role gender stereotypes play in how voters rate the qualifications of political candidates. The experiments I use in this chapter allow me to control the qualification information about the female and male candidates to trace how being a woman affects the way voters use this information in decision-making. I am also able to measure voters’ qualification expectations more directly to assess just how high the gendered qualification bar is for female candidates. This chapter shows that less qualified male candidates generally have a baseline electoral advantage over highly qualified female candidates.
Chapter 8 investigates postwar partisanship, first in enduring postwar election effects from local casualties, then in war memorialization, and finally in the partisan dynamics of Union veterans’ organizations. I describe the political aftermath of the war and test whether wartime voting patterns – including casualty effects – persisted after the fighting and dying ended. I find the massive scale of wartime death continued to shape local political voting patterns in postwar presidential elections for decades, a first in casualty-opinion studies. The chapter also shows how partisanship predicted which states were first to commemorate their dead on Decoration Day, to document their state’s war service in bureaucratic records, and to honor their veterans and the dead with local monuments. Chapter 8 also finds more chapters of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) veteran’s group in prewar Republican places, along with evidence of the GAR’s indirect impact on General Ulysses S. Grant’s 1868 election, when veterans organized actively to boost Republicans.
Chapter 1 introduces the historical context and key partisan questions, then it outlines the book’s methods and contributions in light of diverse social science and history literatures. Finally, I outline the plan of the book and summarize the approach and results in each chapter.
Chapter 6 analyzes the impact of casualties on elections during the war. Statewide elections were staggered throughout the calendar in ways that make those election returns function like a tracking poll of partisan support. Contrary to modern war studies, I find Republican vote shares did not deteriorate in response to national casualties. I validate my analytical approach with evidence of highly nationalized and synchronized elections linking party votes for House, governor, and president both before and during the war. However, local deaths moved voters on the margins, with disparate impacts based on the balance of local partisanship. Local deaths depressed Republican vote share in prewar Democratic bastions but not in Republican strongholds. Recent deaths were especially potent. It suggests that the combination of partisan identities, local partisan leaders, and local social environments shaped local interpretations of the war – including its unprecedented human costs. Local casualties did change the electoral behavior of some voters, while most stood pat. Partisan mechanisms guided who responded and how.
Leaders play a key role in whether their followers accept election losses or turn to violence instead. Here I illustrate the importance of public concession by party leaders after election losses, comparing 2008 and 1860.
Chapter 7 investigates electoral stability in response to specific wartime events with a brief historical narrative of wartime events along the way. Most Civil War accounts describe a highly volatile public mood, threatening Republican electoral fortunes. Instead, I find vote shares were almost entirely stable despite epic events like the 1864 Atlanta victory. The only national dip in Republican support came in fall 1862, and periodic midterm losses for the president’s party may explain it best. Overall, the chapter shows shockingly stable national partisan voting in these wartime elections, even with the conditional shifts based on local deaths. Even as party policy positions and epic events changed rapidly across the war, voters mostly stuck with their own party.
Chapter 1 lays the groundwork for developing my theory of the gendered qualification gap and the empirical tests I conduct in later chapters. I start by defining the gendered qualification gap. The gendered qualification gap explains the empirical phenomenon where female candidates are just as likely to win their elections as male candidates but win by smaller margins and run in more competitive races. This empirical outcome is taken by some scholars and political pundits to mean that there is no consequential bias in voter decision-making. Yet these successful women have better qualifications than their equally successful male counterparts. This means that highly qualified female candidates are just as likely to win their elections as less qualified male candidates. If there were no gender bias in voter decision-making, then female candidates would be more likely to win their elections compared with less qualified male candidates. This chapter discusses how current explanations overlook the role that gender bias plays in how voters evaluate candidate qualifications. Past research examines how institutional barriers and socialization patterns contribute to the gendered qualification gap, but missing from the extant body of scholarship is how voters contribute to the qualification gap.
I conclude the book by reviewing the main findings and their broader implications for mass partisanship and violence beyond the Civil War era. The essential ingredients for partisan conflict have been present throughout most of American history: strong political identities placed in competition. Yet, the U.S. has been mostly free from partisan violence over the past half-century despite partisan animosity, electoral discontent, and even some public support for violence. What changed in the Civil War era was how partisanship aligned with other important social identities, how party leaders fueled the crisis, and then how parties explicitly organized legitimated violence via party control of government. The country is in an uncomfortably similar position today – racial-religious-partisan alignments, political demonization, rhetoric rejecting fair elections, and even language encouraging violence from prominent leaders, including the president. I draw out those implications here.
Incumbent city councillors have an almost insurmountable advantage in Canadian municipal elections. This article aims to improve our understanding of the municipal incumbency advantage by considering the ability of electors to correctly identify the two most competitive candidates in one's ward and the factors associated with being able to do so. Using survey data from the Canadian Municipal Election Study (CMES), we consider the case of the 2018 elections in Mississauga, a city with typically high rates of incumbent re-election. Survey respondents were asked to identify the two most competitive candidates in their local ward races. We find that comparatively few electors are able to recognize which challenger serves as the strongest threat to a sitting councillor, a finding that suggests that coordination problems may help to contribute to high rates of incumbent success. We identify several individual-level and ward-level correlates of correctly identifying the first-place and second-place finishers. We do note, however, that there is a significant amount of variation among the thousands of municipalities in Canada, so findings from this case should be tested in other settings, including larger or smaller cities where levels of information might be different.