Past Political Methodology Workshops

Conjoint Experiments
Jens Hainmueller 
Associate Professor 
Stanford University 
April 11, 2014 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm

 

 

 

 

<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.

<p><strong>Do Open Primaries Help Moderate Candidates? An Experimental Test on the 2012 California Primary</strong></p>
April 29, 2013 - 3:00pm - 4:50pm

Do open primaries help moderate candidates? While many theorize that allowing voters to choose candidates from any party in primaries will alleviate polarization, evidence has been mixed. To further address this question, we conducted a statewide experiment just prior to California’s June 2012 primaries, the first conducted under the Top-Two Primaries Act. We randomly assigned 2839 registered voters in districts where moderate candidates faced extreme candidates to be asked about their vote choice on either the new ballot or on the ballot they would have seen absent the reform. We find that moderate candidates for the House of Representatives and California’s State Senate fared no better under the open primary. The top-two primary failed to improve moderates’ electoral fortunes because of voters’ scant knowledge of the candidates. While voters are generally quite moderate, they largely failed to discern ideological differences between extreme and moderate candidates of the same party, particularly among non-incumbents. Although these results cannot speak to how elected officials will behave in office post-reform, they suggest that voters lack the knowledge necessary to incentivize moderateness in a top-two primary.  

<p><strong>The Impression of Influence: How Legislator Communication and Government Spending Cultivate a Personal Vote</strong></p>
April 8, 2013 - 3:00pm - 4:50pm

Justin Grimmer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science.  His research interests include political representation, Congress, bureaucracies, and political methodology.  His book project, Representational Style: What Legislators Say and Why It Matters, demonstrates that to understand how representation occurs in Congress, one must examine how legislators engage constituents outside of it.  Justin received his PhD from Harvard University in 2010 and his AB from Wabash College.  During academic years 2011-2013, Justin will be a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institute.   

<P>"Mapping the Ideological Marketplace"</P>
May 16, 2012 - 12:15pm - 1:30pm

 

ABSTRACT: I develop a method to measure the ideology of candidates and contributors using campaign nance data. Combined with an expansive dataset of over 81 million contribution records from state and federal elections, the method recovers ideal points for a wide range of political actors. The common pool of contributors that give to campaigns across institutions and levels of politics makes it possible to recover a unied set of ideal points for candidates for Congress, the presidency, state legislatures, governor, and other state-wide o ces, all in a common-space with the interest groups and individual donors that fund their campaigns.

<p><strong>A Class of Bayesian Semiparametric Cluster-Topic Models</strong></p>
April 18, 2012 - 12:30pm - 1:15pm

Justin Grimmer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science.  His research interests include political representation, Congress, bureaucracies, and political methodology.  His book project, Representational Style: What Legislators Say and Why It Matters, demonstrates that to understand how representation occurs in Congress, one must examine how legislators engage constituents outside of it.  Justin received his PhD from Harvard University in 2010 and his AB from Wabash College.  During academic years 2011-2013, Justin will be a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institute.

<p><strong>Is Polarization Hurting the Re-election Chances of House Incumbents? The Effect of Roll-Call Voting Records on Election Results, 1900-2010</strong></p>
April 11, 2012 - 12:15pm - 1:30pm

Abstract: Previous research has demonstrated that incumbents who have more “ideologically extreme” roll-call voting records face a higher risk of losing re-election than those with more moderate voting records. I demonstrate that incumbents between 1934 and 1980 faced a higher penalty for extreme voting records than incumbents from 1900 to 1930 or 1984 to 2010. Congressional polarization was much lower between 1934 and 1980 than in other years, yet as incumbents have polarized, they have not become more likely to lose.