Tag Archives: state politics

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 […]

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 […]

No Middle Ground: How Informal Party Organizations Control Nominations and Polarize Legislatures

Parties control the public behavior of their office holders by acting as gatekeepers to political office The debate on the influence of political parties on the political process until recently has been restricted to parties in government. ¬†Scholars have focused their debate primarily¬†on the impact of party on the actions of a legislator in the […]

Impartial Judges? Race, Institutional Context, and U.S. State Supreme Courts

We like to think that in our form of government, political officials represent the citizens at large. Trouble is, it’s hard to know what “represent” means. Often, we talk about representation through two major lenses. “Descriptive” representation refers to whether people in government look like Americans generally (in terms of race, gender, maybe even age, […]

Delegating Direct Democracy: Interparty Legislative Competition and the Adoption of the Initiative in the American States

When a minority party gains tenuous control of the legislature, or when a majority feels that it might become the minority soon, then legislators gain an incentive to weaken the legislature by empowering the median voter. Today, voters in 24 states can make policy directly through the initiative process. In most of these states, the […]

A Formal Model of Learning and Policy Diffusion

Much of the empirical work to date has not adequately distinguished [game-theoretic] learning-based policy diffusion from [decision-theoretic] myopic individual adoptions. Those who advocate federalism argue that devolution improves policy outcomes nationwide by providing opportunities for local experimentation. In the words of Louis Brandeis, justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1932): It is one of the […]

Does the Citizen Initiative Weaken Party Government in the U.S. States?

Democratic governments tax the most; Republicans tax the least; divided governments are in the middle. But here’s the rub: these relationships disappear in states with direct democracy. When Progressive reformers first championed adoption of the citizen initiative and other direct democracy institutions, a major reason was to limit the ability of political parties to pursue […]

Fiscal Federalism and Tax Effort in the U.S. States

Putting it all together, Nicholson-Crotty is telling us that federal grants-in-aid are little more than a redistribution of the income tax burden from liberal states to conservative ones. The federal government gives billions of dollars to the 50 state governments as grants-in-aid, whether to fund schools, Medicaid, or whatever. The idea is this: The federal […]