The Ideological Nationalization of Mass Partisanship

Policy Preferences and Partisan Identification in State Publics, 1946–2014

Working paper with Devin Caughey and Christopher Warshaw.

Abstract: Since the mid-20th century, elite political behavior has increasingly nationalized. In Congress, for example, within-party geographic cleavages have declined, roll-call voting has become increasingly one-dimensional, and Democrats and Republicans have diverged along this main dimension of national partisan conflict. The existing literature finds that citizens have displayed only a delayed and attenuated echo of elite trends. We show, however, that a very different picture emerges if we focus not on individual citizens but on the aggregate characteristics of geographic constituencies. Using estimates of the economic, racial, and social policy liberalism of the average Democrat, Independent, and Republican in each state-year 1946–2014, we demonstrate a surprisingly close correspondence between mass and elite trends. Specifically, we find that: (1) ideological divergence between Democrats and Republicans has increased dramatically within each domain, just as it has in Congress; (2) economic, racial, and social liberalism have become highly correlated across state-party publics, just as they have across members of Congress; (3) ideological variation across state-party publics is now almost completely explained by party rather than state, closely tracking trends in the Senate; and (4) senators’ liberalism is strongly predicted by the liberalism of their state-party subconstituency, even controlling for their party a liation and their state public’s overall liberalism. Taken together, this correspondence between elite and mass patterns suggests that members of Congress are actually quite in synch with their constituencies, if not with individual citizens.

Do Legislators Respond to Redistricting?

Positioning in the California Legislature

Working paper.

Abstract: Do legislators respond when redistricting leads to changes in the policy ideology of their districts? This paper assesses repositioning among members of the California legislature after the 2012 redistricting cycle, when an independent commission redrew the state’s electoral map, inducing large, exogenous shocks to the composition and policy preferences of many districts. The paper identifies the extent of dynamic responsiveness that follows, while improving on previous measures of district ideology. Contrary to prior findings, there is little evidence of responsiveness to shifts in district preferences from redistricting. That legislators appear unresponsive in the face of such changes speaks to the kind of representation that constituents receive and the obstacles facing reformers.

Disconcerted Voters

Adverse Effects of Voter Authentication on Perceptions of Election Integrity

Working paper.

Abstract: Voter ID requirements have applied to a larger proportion of the electorate in each election since 2000, in keeping with the growing number of states with stringent ID laws. This trend represents a change in the Election-Day experience for many voters. In a reflection of public debate, prior research on voter ID requirements emphasizes turnout effects and the incidence of illegal election activities. In this paper, however, I assess the impact of ID requirements on public opinion. I use matching techniques and survey data from 2008 and 2012 to examine how implementation of voter ID requirements influences voters’ perceptions of election integrity. I find that among comparable voters, those asked for photo ID before casting a ballot are less confident in the American election system. In particular, voters asked for photo ID are more likely to report that voter impersonation is a frequent occurrence.