It is no secret that American politics have become more vitriolic. The parties in Congress have moved farther apart from each other ideologically. They have also become more unified internally. Party elites are increasingly ideologically polarized. This increase in polarization has been well documented. What is less clear is how these changes have affected average Americans? Have American voters become more divided in response to increasingly polarized elites? If so, how? Michael Flynn and I attempt to answer these questions in our paper “From on High: The Effect of Elite Polarization on Mass Attitudes and Behaviors, 1972-2012”, which was published Continue reading How Elite Polarization has Transformed the Electorate
Donald Trump is not is an economic conservative. He sometimes pays lip service to conservative ideas and has come out in favor of cutting taxes, but these are not the central tenets of his campaign. This is both a stark departure from previous Republican presidential candidates and a large part of why Trump was able to defeat the 16 other candidates during the primary. The Republican Party rode a platform based on cutting taxes and government expenditures as far as they could, but electorally this strategy is played out. It no longer works and the reason why it no longer works is Continue reading Why an Economically Conservative Republican Party is No Longer Tenable
There are a lot of political pundits and observers that are amazed by the success of the Trump campaign. I am not one of them. The reason why I am not surprised is the subtext that is defining the 2016 campaign. There is a very real perception that the U.S. is a county in decline. The Trump campaign has embraced this perception head on, and I argue performing well because of it. The campaign slogan “Let’s Make America Great Again” does not leave any doubt about the country’s perceived trajectory. Ben Carson, among others, has successfully channeled this narrative too, Continue reading Is America in Decline?
In June 2013, the Supreme Court issued a decision in the case of Shelby County v. Holder, where the Court ruled that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional. The contentious 5-4 decision eliminated the Justice department’s mandatory oversight of the electoral process in the Deep South. As a result, many individuals have openly expressed fear that the repeal of Section 4 will lead to the return of Jim Crow and new wave of voter suppression. Broadly speaking the Voting Rights Act was designed to enforce the 14th and 15th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The 14th Amendment, Continue reading Voting Rights in the Wake of Shelby County v. Holder
Americans are becoming progressively more accepting of gays and lesbians. According to polling from Pew Research, a majority of Americans now support legalizing same sex marriages. This is a dramatic reversal from the public’s attitudes towards gay marriage just 15 years earlier, where a solid majority (57 percent) of Americans opposed same sex unions. On the surface, this shift in public attitudes regarding whether homosexuals have a legitimate place in society seems to provide evidence that Americans are becoming increasingly socially liberal. This view is bolstered when you look at Americans’ attitudes towards the legalization of marijuana, which like same Continue reading Gay Marriage, Abortion and the Moral Foundations of Political Issues
Mitt Romney was a good presidential candidate; he ran a good campaign in the 2012 election. He had the necessary experience. He stayed on message, performed well in the debates, and by most accounts, appeared presidential. Romney also had the benefit of not flying into a strong economic headwind; the state of the economy certainly did not provide Barack Obama with an insurmountable advantage (although, the economic fundamentals were perceived by some as far more dire than the actually were). Yet, Romney lost in spite of his attractive qualities and Obama’s potential vulnerabilities. The election was not even especially close. Obama Continue reading Handicapping the Republican Party’s Odds in the 2016 Presidential Race
In the wake of the 2012 victory by Democratic incumbent Barack Obama, many within the Republican Party were deeply troubled by the election returns. Republican challenger Mitt Romney faired poorly among ethnic and racial minorities, to the point where Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus equated the party’s performance among Latinos (Romney won just 27 percent of the Latino vote) to “a clear two-by-four to the head in the 2012 election.” While this level of support among ethnic minorities has been relatively typical for previous Republican presidential candidates (including winning candidates), the fact that has Republican elites worried is that whites—the Continue reading Competitive Equilibrium in American Presidential Politics
Does familiarity with members of out-groups breed contempt or acceptance? The relationship between the geographic distribution of ethnic and racial minorities and white attitudes has been the subject of considerable academic debate since V.O. Key’s 1949 landmark Southern Politics. In Southern Politics, Key advanced the claim that white racial conservatism was the strongest in places with large African American populations. Key noted that white turnout in support of the segregationist Democratic Party and the Jim Crow apartheid system was strongest in places where African Americans constituted a large proportion of the population and thus presented a potential political and cultural Continue reading The Spatial and Demographic Determinants of Racial Threat