Category Archives: American Politics

Are Governors Responsible for the State Economy? Partisanship, Blame, and Divided Federalism

When there is an easy chance for people to pass the blame onto a party they don’t like, they’ll take it Tooting my own horn: Here’s the university’s press release for my recent article. It gets things mostly right. A down economy usually spells trouble for incumbents, but a new study shows that six Republicans […]

The Electoral Costs of Party Loyalty in Congress

Voters dislike partisans more than ideologues. Yesterday, I wrote about Ansolabehere and Jones’s article in AJPS showing that voters really do hold members of Congress accountable for their voting record in Congress. On the very next page in AJPS, we find another article on the same theme. But Carson et al. want to change the […]

Constituents’ Responses to Congressional Roll-Call Voting

Voters really do hold members of Congress accountable for their voting records. Turns out that democracy works, at least when it comes to voters holding members of Congress accountable for their voting record. For accountability to happen, we need to see three things: (1) Voters need to have specific opinions on specific issues before Congress; […]

The World Wide Web and the U.S. Political News Market

People who visit online news and political sites are more politically extreme. No serious observer of American politics would be surprised if you made two basic claims: (1) Small-circulation media outlets (websites, cable channels, independent newspapers) can be far more ideologically extreme than large-circulation outlets (network news) that need to appeal to a large audience […]

The 2010 State Politics and Policy Conference

A few random observations from the 10th annual state politics conference, held last week in Abraham Lincoln’s home town: Thad Kousser: Ask anybody here what a “good” state legislature should look like. Can anybody actually answer that? Seth Masket: Campaigns can matter. In districts that Colorado’s wealthy Democrats targeted via 527s, Democratic candidates for state […]

Partisan Polarization and Congressional Accountability in House Elections

It may have been true 20, 30, or 40 years ago that members of Congress could evade accountability for Congress’s overall activities, but rising polarization has enabled voters to punish or reward Representatives for Congress’s collective performance. Shortly before the 2008 Congressional elections, only 36% believed that most members of Congress deserved reelection. These numbers […]

The Declining Talent Pool of Government

The “benchwarmer” dilemma: You want your best 11 players on the field, but in order to motivate your players, you’ve got to threaten to replace them with an inferior player from the bench. Imagine you’re a soccer coach. You’ve got 14 players on your roster, 11 of whom are on the field at any given […]

Broad Bills or Particularistic Policy? Historical Patterns in American State Legislatures

If you want your legislators to pass general policies that benefit the state as a whole, pay them less, make districts bigger, and strive for partisan balance. If you want your legislators to pass pork and other district-focused bills, pay them more, make districts smaller, and promote one-party government. When will state legislators take on […]