Category Archives: American Politics

Affect, Social Pressure and Prosocial Motivation: Field Experimental Evidence of the Mobilizing Effects of Pride, Shame, and Publicizing Voting Behavior

Most places give out “I voted” stickers to honor voters. Perhaps a scarlet letter on non-voters would work better. Suppose a local newspaper planned to honor those who vote by listing their names in a post-election issue. Would you be more likely to vote? Now, suppose a local newspaper planned to shame those who stayed […]

Public Accountability and Political Participation: Effects of Face-to-Face Feedback Intervention on Voter Turnout of Public Housing Residents

You don’t have to use heavyhanded, intimidating factors to make social pressure work. You can raise turnout dramatically just by subtly reminding people that they’re being watched. Here’s a few things we know about voter turnout: The urban poor don’t vote. Voter turnout experiments don’t typically focus on non-voting populations like the urban poor. Turnout […]

Introduction to Social Pressure and Voting: New Experimental Evidence

Voting is like pornography. Non-voting, like pornography, is frowned upon, so folks try to keep it private. But once you threaten to publicize that private behavior, it changes. Two years ago, Gerber, Green, and Larimer (2008) shook up research on turnout with a stunning experimental result: You can raise turnout dramatically with a postcard. Not […]

New Measures of Partisanship, Ideology, and Policy Mood in the American States

Utah comes up as #1 most Republican in partisanship, #9 most conservative in ideology, and #17 most conservative in “mood.” Over the years, political scientists have come up with lots of different ways to measure each state’s relative ideology. We all have a general sense that Utah, Idaho, and Mississippi lie to the right of […]

A Hundred Miles of Dry: Religion and the Persistence of Prohibition in the U.S. States

America’s experiment with Prohibition was a failure. After 13 years of corruption, speakeasies, and an empowered mafia, the United States repealed Prohibition in 1933. With the federal ban on alcohol removed, authority over alcohol shifted to the states. Not a single state chose to continue to experiment. However, many counties did. Today, there remain 262 […]

A Matter of Context: Christian Right Influence in U.S. State Republican Politics

The Christian Right’s political influence from one state to the next has little to do with the size of each state’s Evangelical population. In a new article, Kimberly Conger tries to explain why the Christian Right is more influential in some states than in others. Most commentary about Christian conservatives focuses on the national context, […]

Party Power or Preferences? Quasi-Experimental Evidence from American State Legislatures

Cox, Kousser, and McCubbins want to show that agenda control matters. They did. But without meaning to, they also showed that persuasive leaders and party cohesion matter even more. Consider why some bills can get through a legislature but others can’t. Perhaps (1) legislator preferences are all that matters; liberal legislators vote for liberal bills […]

Ready to Lead on Day One: Predicting Presidential Greatness from Political Experience

Turns out that you can’t predict presidential greatness from political experience, at least not very well. We all remember Hillary Clinton’s ad–“It’s 3:00am and your children are asleep.” She wanted voters to believe that her long political experience made her “ready to lead on day one,” unlike that untested other guy, Barack Obama. More generally, […]