Joshua Tucker

Joshua Tucker is a professor of Politics at New York University with an affiliate appointment in the Department of Russian and Slavic Studies and New York University-Abu Dhabi. His major field is comparative politics with an emphasis on mass politics, including elections and voting, the development of partisan attachment, public opinion formation, and, political protest.

Recent Articles

Evidence Tampering

There’s apparently a meme developing in the early general election reporting that goes like this: I know Obama is in a difficult position heading into 2012, but I can’t just report on the poll numbers or the fact that everyone knows incumbents have a difficult time getting re-elected when the economy is doing poorly, so I’m going to seize on some piece of information that’s out of context to be “another sign” that Obama is in trouble.

The Voting Paradox Explained! Why People Vote…

United Russia, Russia’s ruling party, saw its popularity drop by nine points this week and then released the following online add:

The tag line? “Let’s Do it Together”

[h/t to Brian Whitmore, Israel Marques, and Scott Gehlbach, who wants this to be immediately nominated for most unusual campaign advertisement.]

Speaking of Things that Aren’t Democratic…

Earlier this week, I raised the issue that there might be some tension between the sudden savior status of technocratic government and traditional notions of democratic accountability. Thus it was with great interest that I read the lead to the AP story on Italy’s likely incoming new – “TECHNOCRATIC” – Prime Minister, Mario Monti:

Italy’s Senate approved crucial economic reforms demanded by the European Union on Friday, the first step in paving the way for Premier Silvio Berlusconi to resign as early as this weekend and a transitional government to be formed. The 156-12 vote took place after respected economist Mario Monti – widely expected to become the interim prime minister – was welcomed with applause in the Senate chamber, where he was officially designated senator for life. [emphasis added]

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s…. Technocratic Government!

The sky is falling! The Euro is collapsing! What can we do? Look, up in the sky: it’s a bird! it’s a plane, it’s….TECHNOCRATIC GOVERNMENT! Destined to save small and large European governments alike, the sudden appearance of technocratic government as a deus ex machnia is probably raising a similar thoughts in most (especially American) people’s head: just what is a technocratic government?

Does Money Affect Election Outcomes in US Politics? A Quick Review of the Literature

Yesterday I addressed the question of whether Obama was actually having trouble raising money for his 2012 re-election campaign. This of course begs a larger question: how much does campaign spending actually affect election outcomes in US politics? I put this question to Andrew Therriault, a post-doctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University and an expert on campaign effects.

Q: (me) What are the basic conclusions of the literature regarding overall spending in US elections?


A: (Therriault): With regard to overall spending, Jacobson (1978) was the first to show an effect on vote outcomes, but this effect was mainly present for challengers [in Congressional elections]. In subsequent years, the effect of challenger spending was confirmed, but others also found effects for incumbent spending as well (e.g. Green & Krasno 1988, Erikson & Palfrey 1995, Gerber 1998). The basic takeaway is that spending more is clearly effective for challengers, and probably also matters for incumbents too, but solving the causal direction problems involved makes it very difficult to be really certain of any of these findings.


One problem is we know that winning candidates generally have more money, but whether money helps candidates or is just a signal of unobserved candidate quality [i.e., people give more money to better candidates] is unclear. Another problem is that not only are donors attracted to high-quality candidates just as voters are, but they are also attracted to winning candidates—that is, if money is given in order to get access to elected officials, donors are more likely to give to candidates who are expected to do well, because the expected return is greater. In both cases, we could observe an empirical relationship between winning and having more money for your campaign, without the money actually “causing” the victory.