<p><strong>Structural Topic Models for Open-Ended Survey Responses</strong></p>
June 3, 2013 - 3:00pm - 4:50pm
Dustin Tingley is an Assistant Professor of Government at Harvard University. He received my PhD in Politics from Princeton in 2010 and BA from the University of Rochester in 2001. His research interests include international relations, international political economy, and experimental approaches to political science. He is currently working on new experimental projects on bargaining, new methods for the statistical analysis of causal mechanisms, and a book about the domestic politics of US foreign policy.
<p><strong>Transparency, Protests, and Political (In)Stability</strong></p>
May 20, 2013 - 3:00pm - 4:50pm
The collapse of political regimes – both democratic and autocratic – is often brought about through large-scale mobilization and collective action by (elements of) the populace against its leadership. The willingness of any given member of the public to participate in such actions against her leaders is contingent upon her beliefs about others’ willingness to similarly mobilize. In this paper, we examine the role of the disclosure of economic data by the government to the populace on citizen belief formation, and consequently on collective mobilization. We present a theoretical model in which disclosure, under autocratic rule, (1) increases the extent to which mobilization is correlated with incumbent performance, and (2) for a range of parameter values, increases the frequency of mobilization. In democracies, by contrast, disclosure increases voter discrimination with respect to government performance. Because voting and mobilization act as substitute mechanisms in disciplining the government, the risk of mobilization falls in transparency. We empirically test these claims and find that all enjoy robust support. Transparency destabilizes autocracies even as it stabilizes democracies.
<p><strong>Assessing Macro and Microrepresentation in the United States</strong></p>
May 13, 2013 - 3:00pm - 4:50pm
Boris Shor, an assistant professor in the Harris School, focuses on two primary research programs. The first is the empirical analysis of the policy consequences of enduring political institutions in the United States. Specifically, he recently examined the politics of the geographic distribution patterns of federal spending. The second area is the analysis of state legislative ideology in comparative context and the connection to cross-state policy differences. His institutional interests include the presidency, Congress, political parties, bureaucracy, and state governmental organization. In other research, he is focusing on the causes and consequences of the blue-red state divide in the U.S.
<p><strong>Issue Distancing in Congressional Elections</strong></p>
May 6, 2013 - 3:00pm - 4:50pm
Over the last forty years, Members of Congress (MCs) have polarized in their legisla- tive behavior, while representing relatively centrist electorates. This lack of anchoring by median preferences highlights a central puzzle: How do polarized candidates run and win elections based on legislative records that are increasingly ‘out of step’ with their districts? Existing research points to two potential sources: a changing balance of electoral forces fa- voring partisan voters and ‘shirking’ by policy-motivated MCs. In this paper, I study forty years of position-taking in congressional elections to assess these competing accounts. In particular, I scale the issue statements aired in 12,692 House and Senate ads from 1968 to 2008, using cosponsorship bill titles to link words in ads to the same dimension of ideo- logical conflict in Congress, and replicate this analysis using ads from the 2008 election. Overall, I find that candidates consistently present themselves as moderates, while portray- ing their opponents as extremists through a process of issue distancing. I find consistent evidence that this distancing may help candidates win votes, by mitigating the fallout from their partisanship. This finding provides additional support for the elite-driven account of a representational disconnect in American politics, suggesting fundamental limits to the ability of voters to hold their representatives accountable in contemporary elections.