The Monkey Cage

We are professors of political science.

AP Suggests Obama has a Donor Problem — What does the Empirical Evidence Have to Say?

With Nate Silver asking today whether Obama is toast in 2012 , I thought it would be a good time to revisit an AP story last week about Obama’s supposed donor problem . The AP reported that: Tens of thousands of people who together gave millions of dollars to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign have gone missing this time around. Their failure to give so far may signal that some of the president’s earliest supporters have lost enthusiasm. I was initially a bit suspicious of this conclusion – namely because in 2007 Obama was heading into a hotly contested primary race while in 2011 he is not, so I reached out to Adam Bonica , a Stanford University political scientist and expert on political donations to campaigns. Following the success of John’s recent dialogue format posts , I recast our emails as a Q&A: Q (me): Is it correct to conclude, as the AP report noted, that “ larger donations are the strongest signs of enthusiasm “? A (Bonica): I don’t think this is really the case...

The revolving door of U.S. politics

I got the following email today from Jordan Gehrke, Campaign Director, AmericansforHermanCain.com Patriot— They’re at it again. Herman Cain is winning the Republican race for President. So the left-wing media has swung into action. Clarence Thomas called it a “high tech lynching” 20 years ago. That’s exactly what they’re doing to Herman Cain today. This is nothing but an attempt to smear Cain’s reputation and character. . . . The Left spews such hatred at black conservatives because they know that if the GOP ever breaks the Democrat stranglehold on the black vote, they are DONE as a party. . . . I’ll leave it to political scientists such as Tim Groseclose to judge whether the left-wing media has swung into action, but I will say that I think Jordan Gehrke is way wrong when he writes that the Democrats are goners if the GOP breaks their stranglehold on the black vote. On the contrary, I’m guessing that if the Republicans start getting a big chunk of black votes, a bunch of whites will...

The redistricting song

Like other political scientists who’ve studied the topic, I think the malign effects of redistricting have been overstated. Nonetheless, this video (by Andrew Bean and David Holmes) is informative, and I agree that nonpartisan redistricting would be better than the current system in the U.S.

Post-Election Report: Kyrgyz President

As part of our continuing series of election reports , we are pleased to welcome Matteo Fumagalli of Central European University with the following post-election report on Sunday’s Kyrgyz presidential elections . ********** Kyrgyzstan’s presidential elections, held on Sunday 30 October, resulted in an overwhelming victory for the front-runner, Almazbek Atambayev, the small Central Asian republic’s prime minister since December 2010. Atambayev becomes the country’s fourth president, following Askar Akaev (1990-2005, ousted during the so-called Tulip Revolution), Kurmanbek Bakiev (2005-2010, whose rule also ended abruptly) and Roza Otunbaeva, who presided over the launch of a new constitution, new parliamentary elections in October 2010, but also a dramatic and bloody descent into chaos in June 2010 as the government witnessed powerless clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in the southern city of Osh, which left several hundreds dead and hundreds of thousands displaced. Background Widely...

The President’s Fate May Hinge on 2009

Incumbent Party’s Expected Vote Margin = 1.14 −.83 × (Years in Office) +4.51 × (4th-Year Income Growth) +1.66 × (3rd-Year Income Growth) −1.04 × (2nd-Year Income Growth) −2.34 × (1st-Year Income Growth) Most of the ingredients in this recipe for success at the polls are very familiar to students of American presidential elections. The incumbent party tends to do less well the longer it has held the White House. Robust income growth in the year of the election provides a huge boost to the incumbent’s electoral prospects. Income growth in the preceding year matters much less. The final two terms in this model are more surprising. Income growth in the second year of a president’s term is negatively (albeit weakly) related to his party’s subsequent electoral fortunes, while income growth in the year of his inauguration has a strong—and statistically reliable—negative effect. If true, this is very good news for Barack Obama, because the year of his inauguration, 2009, was one of the worst...

Larry Bartels Joins The Monkey Cage

We are pleased to welcome Larry Bartels as an occasional contributor at The Monkey Cage. He is Professor of Political Science and Shayne Chair of Public Policy and Social Science at Vanderbilt University. His most recent book, Unequal Democracy , was the subject of a roundtable here on the blog. A copy of his vita is here . For other posts mentioning his work, see here . We look forward to his commentary and analysis!

Another Look at Party Discipline

Steve Smith sends this graph: In the political science literature, DW-NOMINATE scores a the most prominent measure of the ideology of members of Congress. This graph plots the standard deviation in those scores from the 84th through 111th Congresses (basically 1955-2010). The larger the standard deviation, the more ideological heterogeneity there is in the party. In the earlier part of this period, the Democrats were clearly more heterogeneous, as one might expect in a party with defined liberal Northern and conservative Southern wings. But over this period, ideological heterogeneity in the Democratic Party decreases substantially. By about the 104th Congress (after the “Republican Revolution” of 1994), the parties are equally heterogeneous. And that has continued to be true. Via email, Smith says: There is hardly any difference since start of the Gingrich era (he became Republican whip in 1989). ”Gingrichism” encouraged a disciplined party to sharpen differences (he thought the...

Quick Thoughts on Greek Referendum

The media and financial markets are abuzz over the decision of the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s decision to hold a referendum on whether to approve the current EU bail out plan for Greece and its many conditions for reform and austerity in Greece (see for example here , here , and here ). While most attention is being focused on the short term effects of the decision on the markets and internal Greek politics, as well as the long term consequences of the referendum for Greece’s membership in the Euro and wider European (and global) financial stability, I want to address the referendum itself. In a series of publications with a number of different co-authors, * I have examined the causes of attitudes towards EU membership in post-communist countries considering membership in the EU (see here and here ) and then again in the actual referendum on EU membership in Poland ( here ). In all three articles, the overwhelming empirical lesson is clear: economic winners are more...

Doug Schoen has 2 poll reports

According to Chris Wilson , there are two versions of the report of the Occupy Wall Street poll from so-called hack pollster Doug Schoen. Here’s the report that Azi Paybarah says that Schoen sent to him, and here’s the final question from the poll: And here’s what’s on Schoen’s own website: Very similar, except for that last phrase, “no matter what the cost.” I have no idea which was actually asked to the survey participants, but it’s a reminder of the difficulties of public opinion research—-sometimes you don’t even know what question was asked!

The Palestine UNESCO Vote

Permanent delegate of the U.S. to UNESCO David Killion, center, reacts as delegates vote on the Palestinian membership, during a session of UNESCO's 36th General Conference, in Paris, Monday October 31, 2011. Palestine became a full member of the U.N. cultural and educational agency Monday, in a highly divisive move that the United States and other opponents say could harm renewed Mideast peace efforts. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Yesterday the membership of UNESCO voted to grant Palestine full membership, triggering a U.S. decision to cut funding to the organization. The vote is important not just for the future of UNESCO but also because it reveals how states are likely to vote on the bigger issue of UN membership and Palestinian membership in other treaty organizations, such as the International Criminal Court. The graph below (click to enlarge) shows how countries voted on the UNESCO question by their overall record on UN votes on Palestine (Security Council members are depicted by red crosses). I explained the methodology in an earlier post but the basic idea is that the further to the right a country is on the horizontal axis, the more favorable to Israel was its voting behavior in the UN General Assembly. The model expected all countries to the right of Australia to vote no on Palestinian membership. The fact that Australia also voted no is not a big surprise as it is pretty close to the cutting line (i...

Prior Experience and Presidential Greatness

My new post at 538 discusses a forthcoming paper by political scientists Joseph Uscinski and Arthur Simon . They argue that certain kinds of previous experience, including military service and tenure as the governor of a large state, are associated with “presidential greatness,” as gauged by surveys of historians. “Washington outsiders,” by contrast, fare poorly. The post is here .

Do Democrats Need Discipline?

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, accompanied by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., center, and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of Calif., takes part in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011, to discuss China currency. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
In response to my post on Drew Westen’s latest, a few commenters took issue with a secondary point. (My primary point, that Westen mischaracterizes the partisanship of the mass public, attracted less dissent.) My secondary point was that, despite this stereotype that Democratic politicians are less disciplined than Republicans—more fractious, harder to coordinate, etc.—Democrats and Republicans in Congress have essentially equivalent levels of unity on roll call votes. I honestly believe that most people who say that Democrats are less disciplined than Republicans do not know this fact about unity on roll call votes. That’s why I pointed it out. Is roll call voting the entire story on party discipline? Of course not. Let’s review some other evidence: As I noted in the first post, Democrats and Republicans in the mass public vote for their party’s candidates at the same (high) rate. In presidential elections, party loyalty is approximately 90%. Here is data from the 2008 exit polls,...

Quick comment to Sides re: Party Discipline

John gives some reasons why viewers of the political scene might think that congressional Republicans are more disciplined than their Democratic counterparts, even if this isn’t really so. I’d like to give one more big reason based on recent history. When Barack Obama became president, congressional Republicans implemented a solid No strategy and were successful at stopping much of the Democrats’ agenda. With only 40% of each of the houses of Congress, the Republicans had few tools except party discipline. To me, it is this impressive achievement that earns congressional Republicans their reputation. Everything John wrote is fine but I think he’s missing the elephant in the room (so to speak).

Post-Election Report: Ireland President

In our continuing series of election reports , we are pleased to welcome the following post-election report from Theresa Reidy of University College Cork: ******************** Michael D Higgins was elected the ninth President of Ireland on Saturday, 29 October 2011 with over one million votes. Higgins was the candidate from the Labour Party, the second largest party in parliament. A frontrunner for much of the campaign, he slipped into second place in the two weeks before the election before re-emerging as the overwhelming choice of the public, securing 39.6% of the first preference vote. The position of President of Ireland has come vacant on thirteen occasions and there have been seven elections. Elections take place using the Alternative Vote system. There are three entry routes into the presidential election; an outgoing president may nominate themselves, 20 members of parliament may nominate a candidate and finally, a candidate can secure a nomination vote by four county councils...

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