The Monkey Cage

We are professors of political science.

Everybody hates Jon

Conservatives hate him because he’s a liberal Democrat, liberals hate him because he’s a Wall Street leech . The funny thing is, if Corzine had stayed on in the Senate, he’d probably be an extremely well-respected figure, deferred to by his colleagues and the press as an expert on how to fix the financial mess. Corzine’s decision to leave Congress was a (retrospectively) terrible, terrible decision.

Voter decision making with third party candidates

Jonathan Livengood writes: I was reading a couple of your papers on voting ( http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~gelman/research/published/rational_final6.pdf and http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~gelman/research/published/probdecisive2.pdf ), and I wondered whether the results apply when people vote for third-party candidates. In part, I was wondering what it would mean in your model for a third-party vote to be decisive. Is it rational (and under what conditions) to vote for a third-party candidate? Since we are paying attention to some degree to what people say about their voting habits, I wonder what sense to make of the typical argument against voting for a third party. Namely: If I vote for a third-party, then I am voting against the two-party candidate that better represents my political views. If that candidate loses , then I will be responsible, since I would have voted for that person had I not voted for a third-party candidate. Are people making a reasonable argument here or are they...

Ron Paul Leading...on Google

Google search activity may or may not be predictive here, but this is interesting nonetheless: Google Insights for Search Gadgets powered by Google For virtually all of 2011, including the past month, there is more search activity about Ron Paul than any other candidate. I thank John Coleman for highlighting this for me. What could this mean? Maybe Ron Paul supporters just spend a lot of time on the internet. Or maybe this is another indicator of the intensity of their support. One thing supporting the latter interpretation: search activity for Paul seemed to presage his second-place finish in the Iowa Straw Poll. If this proves true again, then Ron Paul is headed toward a strong showing in Iowa. His poll numbers are up in Iowa as well. I’ll go even further out on a limb. Say Gingrich wins Iowa but does a little worse than “expected.” Paul comes in second and does better than “expected.” Romney comes in a distant third. How much of a bounce would Paul then get in New Hampshire? After...

Ryancare and the Tea Party

Journalists covering Romney’s new position in favor of the Ryan Medicare plan have focused on how this will be a boon for Democrats if Romney gets the nomination. “The reason this matters: It will give Dems a weapon in the general election against Romney,” says Greg Sargent, blogging at the Washington Post . That may be the case. But Romney’s move may not even help him with conservatives, at least judging by our interviews with Tea Party activists . Tea Party members we spoke to perceived Mitt Romney as a flip-flopper, and were unconvinced by his policy changes. They also took electability very seriously, prizing above all a candidate who could beat President Obama. Tea Partiers’ opinions of Romney’s politics were pretty mainstream, often perceiving him as an uncompelling candidate who had switched his positions too frequently. Those we spoke to were aware that Romney had tried to blur his earlier support for a health bill similar to “Obamacare.” A typical comment came from Ellen: “I...

The Beginning of the End of the Putin Regime as We have Known It

When I am not writing for The Monkey Cage, I have been known to spend some time studying post-communist politics . I have also written about protest following electoral fraud . Thus recent events in Russia are of great interest to me both personally and professionally. As many of you by now know, last weekend’s Russian parliamentary elections resulted in both a dismal showing for the ruling United Russia party AND major accusation of fraud , including concerns voiced by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton . Protests have broken out in Russia , are scheduled throughout the country (being advertised on social media sites, e.g., here and here ) on Saturday. These developments raise some immediate challenges for our understanding of Russian politics. Is a Colored Revolution – long dreaded by the Kremlin – finally coming to Russia? Are the winds of Arab Spring blowing back to Europe? Might we finally see a true Twitter Revolution ( @stopputin ), growing out of the fact that the Russian...

Googling Ron Paul in Iowa

Google search activity may or may not be predictive here, but this is interesting nonetheless: For virtually all of 2011, including the past month, there is more search activity about Ron Paul than any other candidate. I thank John Coleman for highlighting this for me. What could this mean? Maybe Ron Paul supporters just spend a lot of time on the internet. Or maybe this is another indicator of the intensity of their support. One thing supporting the latter interpretation: search activity for Paul seemed to presage his second-place finish in the Iowa Straw Poll. If this proves true again, then Ron Paul is headed toward a strong showing in Iowa. His poll numbers are up in Iowa as well. I’ll go even further out on a limb. Say Gingrich wins Iowa but does a little worse than “expected.” Paul comes in second and does better than “expected.” Romney comes in a distant third. How much of a bounce would Paul then get in New Hampshire? After all, he’s in third place there and his numbers are...

Independents Aren't That Interesting

Here’s a new report by Third Way. They find that in 5 of 8 battleground states that register voters by political party, the number of registered independents is up. In 7 of 8 states the number of registered Democrats is down. The GOP is down in 6 of those 8. They then write: Beyond these battleground states, national surveys such as the American National Election Studies and Pew show a steady increase in Independent self-identification throughout the United States. According to Pew, between 2000 and 2011, both the Democratic and Republican parties lost members, and the number of self-identified Independents increased by 8%. In 2000, 33% of the electorate identified as a Democrat, 28% as a Republican, and 29% as an Independent. By 2011 only 32% identified as a Democrat, 25% as a Republican, and 37% as an Independent. Democratic and Republican losses were mirrored by gains in Independents… No acknowledgment of the fact that most of them lean toward a party and tend to vote loyally for...

More Hype about Political Independents

Here’s a new report by Third Way. They find that in 5 of 8 battleground states that register voters by political party, the number of registered independents is up. In 7 of 8 states the number of registered Democrats is down. The GOP is down in 6 of those 8. They then write: Beyond these battleground states, national surveys such as the American National Election Studies and Pew show a steady increase in Independent self-identification throughout the United States. According to Pew, between 2000 and 2011, both the Democratic and Republican parties lost members, and the number of self-identified Independents increased by 8%. In 2000, 33% of the electorate identified as a Democrat, 28% as a Republican, and 29% as an Independent. By 2011 only 32% identified as a Democrat, 25% as a Republican, and 37% as an Independent. Democratic and Republican losses were mirrored by gains in Independents… No acknowledgment of the fact that most of them lean toward a party and tend to vote loyally for...

“This Winter Will Be Hot”*

In the wake of mounting evidence of widespread fraud in Sunday’s elections for Russia’s Duma, protest movements calling for an annulment of the election’s results have begun to gather steam. Despite the arrest of nearly 800 demonstrators in Moscow and St. Petersburg this week, plans have now been drawn up for protests this Saturday (10 December) in at least 80 cities across Russia. While the search has now been joined among observers for a suitable moniker—”Russian Spring” (which makes little sense) and “Russian Winter” (even less sense) appear to be frontrunners—it is still far too early to determine what effect, if any, these protests will have—or even if people will show up. Three immediate issues loom over this nascent movement (or, more accurately, movements): (1) What effect, if any, will the arrest of leaders and “first movers”—many of whom received 15-day jail sentences—have on the subsequent ability to mobilize participants? (2) Can these groups rely on Twitter, LiveJournal...

Belgium Has a Federal Government

It only took 18 months. Here’s a Wall Street Journal story . Hat tip to David Fortunato. Here’s his earlier post on the subject.

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood’s Seat Bonuses Confirmed

More from Andrew Reynolds : Yesterday on the Monkey Cage I predicted how parties would split the first 168 seats up for grabs in the Egyptian People’s Assembly. We now have preliminary results from the run-off races in all bar two of the 56 majority district seats being contested. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party has done a little better than I predicted, the Salafi Nour party a little worse. One tiny ray of sunshine for the liberals is that the Revolution Continues alliance picked up a few more seats than might have been expected. Indeed, liberal and secular candidates came from second place to win five seats in the run-offs held this week. The FPJ did better than I predicted. Results reported in the Egyptian media today show that the second place candidate from the first round overtook the frontrunner to win the seat in 13 of the run-off races. The FJP were overtaken in three races by liberals and by a Nour candidate in another. But FJP candidates came from behind...

The Decline of the Postal Service and the Decline of Direct Mail

While the effective demise of other first-class correspondence has strengthened political mail so far, the broader obsolescence of the mail gives reason for long-term concerns. Campaigns have timed their mail programs under the assumption that voters check their mailboxes daily. This week’s announcement by the postal service that it would eliminate next-day delivery guarantees for first-class mail will only make the post even less popular for time-sensitive communication like magazines, birthday cards, and Netflix discs. The possibility that nothing urgent ever arrives scares political consultants—young voters may never develop the habit of regularly looking in their mailboxes. From Sasha Issenberg’s new blog at Slate. Even after only two posts, it’s a must-read. Here also is a post on prejudice toward blacks and Mormons, featuring some political science research.

Keep the Facts Straight: Congressional Portfolios do *not* Outperform the Market

Insider trading in Congress is back in the news, this time because Congress is trying to set up more stringent regulations against it . The reason: Almost all of the 173 House members cosponsoring the legislation signed on following a 60 Minutes broadcast last month reporting that congressional lawmakers can enrich themselves through investments without fear of prosecution. The emphasis here, however, ought to be on the can. Because in the aggregate, US legislators do not seem to be doing a better job enriching themselves through their investment portfolios than the general public, a fact that seems to be getting lost (or not appearing at all!) in the discussion of this issue. Jens Hainmueller, a draft of whose work we previously featured on The Monkey Cage , emailed me regarding a revised version of his paper with Andy Eggers: We actually just revised this paper in order to more clearly point out the serious shortcomings of existing studies on congressional investing and also put the...

The Tea Party’s Lessons for #OWS

As camps around the country face evictions , many are wondering how (or if) the Occupy movement can build on the national media attention the protests have received. Considering the example of the Tea Party may offer some interesting perspective. First, though the various Tea Party protests had considerable support from institutional conservative forces, including the mobilizing power of conservative talk radio and Fox News , mainstream attention to the Tea Party did not peak for more than a year. Here is a chart of CNN ’s coverage of the Tea Party over an eighteen-month period: The first Tea Party protests were held only weeks into the Obama Administration, in February 2009. Coverage outside of conservative news sources was mostly limited to the largest, most eye-catching protests. But in 2010, almost a year after the first protests, the Tea Party suddenly became a subject of media attention on a regular basis. What changed? In the first months of 2010, Republican Senate candidates...

Graphiti: Income Inequality Edition

Over at his blog, Mike Sances investigates the claim that the Occupy Wall Street protests have made concerns about economic inequality an important item on the political agenda. A recent Washington Post poll found that about 60% of respondents believed there was a widening gap between the wealthy and the less well-off and that the government “should pursue policies that try to reduce the gap.” Sances notes that this 60% figure is a historical high. Drawing on data from the General Social Survey since the late 1970s, he writes: Note that the “reduce income differences” category has always had a plurality, though never a majority. Could differences in the way the question is worded account for the apparent 20% jump between the GSS in 2010 and the Washington Post result in 2011? In a 2008 article in Perspectives on Politics, Lane Kenworthy and Leslie McCall also addressed this topic. Using the similar data from the GSS they found that: Americans do tend to object to inequality and...

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