18 May 2006
It is with some regret that the Political Behavior Blog comes to an end. We have enjoyed our year-long experiment in blogging about political behavior research. Among other things we have learned that maintaining a blog requires both hard work and skill. This blog has generated a surprising amount of readers in a short period of time, but with summer coming and my departure for the University of Wisconsin imminent, it is time to push the pause button. Enjoy the warm weather and thanks for your contributions!
Although this blog is done, IQSS continues to support other social science blogs, and I hear that more are on the way. Fortunately, the Political Psychology and Behavior Workshop will continue next year under the direction of Claudine Gay and Sunshine Hillygus.
1 May 2006
The academic year will end with a CAPS-funded conference entield "Democracy, Divided Government, and Split-Ticket Voting." The meeting brings together American and comparative politics scholars to examine the causes and consequences of ticket splitting cross-nationally. Issues to be considered include theories of strategic voting, political competition, partisanship, uncertainty, and institutional constraints. Look for more details soon.
Posted by Barry Burden at 10:01 AM
24 April 2006
Here's a space for those of you who attended this Midwest meeting last week to chime in about what grabbed your attention. What was the buzz in panels or hallway conversation about the political behavior field? Any new topics out there? Controversies? Dead lines of inquiry? Post your thoughts in the comment section.
The final Political Psychology and Behavior Workshop paper of the academic year comes this Friday in the form of Traci Burch's "Estimating Voter Registration, Turnout, and Party ID among Current and Former Felons in North Carolina." Felon disenfranchisment is obviously a timely issue. It has been the source of inaccuracy in voter turnout statistics and a possible contributor to the 2000 election outcome in Florida. To give away the punchline, here is Burch's conclusion:
This analysis attempts to estimate the political participation of felons and ex-felons in one state, North Carolina, in an effort to see the extent and causes of felon participation. The findings indicate that even former felons in North Carolina have low rates of current voter registration (13.8 percent); the lack of registration in large part reflects the impact of socioeconomic disadvantage and legal disenfranchisement policies. Among comparable groups such as misdemeanants and felons prior to the start of their last sentence, registration levels are about 30 percent, suggesting that in the absence of felon disenfranchisement policies, felon political participation would have been much higher. Moreover, older felons and felons with a high school education are much more likely to be registered to vote.
Posted by Barry Burden at 10:09 AM
15 April 2006
Marcus Alexander and Matthew Harding recently presented "Beliefs Over the Unknown: Understanding The Threat of Terrorism" at the Political Psychology and Behavior Workshop. The authors argue that extant models describing how rational actors forecast the future are inadequate for explaining the way humans think about terrorist attacks. Alexander and Harding propose an ingenious new model, which allows actors to carry out a series of counterfactual thought experiments in order to place a non-zero probability on yet unrealized events occurring. They concluded their paper by arguing that democratic deliberation results in groups placing insufficient weight over the unknown. The implication suggested is that classic results about the efficiency of aggregating decision-making (i.e. Condorcet Jury Theorem) do not apply in the case of envisioning the future.
Posted by Justin Grimmer at 1:40 PM
14 April 2006
The latest newsletter of the Elections, Public Opinion, and Voting Behavior (EPOVB) section is out. In addition to looking for committee and award nominations, there's news of a competition to produce the best forecast of this year's congressional elections. There are also some great panels at MPSA next week.
Posted by Barry Burden at 1:42 PM
12 April 2006
This week's Political Psychology and Behavior Workshop features a paper by Marcus Alexander and Matthew Harding titled "Beliefs over the Unknown: Understanding the Threat of Terrorism." Rose McDermott of UCSB is serving as discussant. We hope to the paper posted soon. The abstract says that democracy might have liabilities when it comes to beliefs about threats:
When faced with the imminent threat of terrorism, people draw on their own experience and imagination to assess the security risk. We develop a behavioral economic model of belief formation under the threat of terrorism, and explore how economic forecasting, assesment of terrorist threats, and democratic concensus are shaped by the people’s ability to combine rationality and immagination to understand the previously unknown. Due to the behavioral biases that arise in this process, the main implication of our findings on democratic politics is that free deliberation may lead to public concensus that further inflates biases, presenting a problem for decisions under the shadow of terrorism.
Posted by Barry Burden at 7:31 PM
11 April 2006
There is, indeed, such a thing as being too smart for your own good. Yesterday's Italian elections, in spite of an amazing, improbable comeback engineered by Berlusconi in the last few weeks of the campaign, gave the Center Left coalition a victory that far exceeds, in seats, the infinitesimal margin of votes by which it edged the Center-Right. For the Left, the sweetest of ironies is that its majority in both chambers was manufactured by the features of the new electoral law that were designed to inflict the most damage to it. When a rambling Romano Prodi emerged from his trailor at 3 o'clock in the morning - after already having cancelled two victory speeches - he said, rather crudely, "they even changed the electoral law to make us lose, but we won anyway." Quite so.
10 April 2006
Tuesday, 14:45 (Italian time)
It's over! The Center-Left scores an amazing 5-1 victory on the Senate seats elected by Italians abroad. It therefore wins a 159-156 majority in the Senate.
Final results for the Chamber: Center-Left 49.80%, Center-Right 49.73%. Turnout is 83.6%. The Left wins 340 seats; the Right 277. The margin of victory is just 25,224 votes out of about 40 million cast. Here's a list of parties that will receive seats, as well as their vote shares:
CASA DELLE LIBERTA' (Right): FORZA ITALIA 23.71; ALLEANZA NAZIONALE 12.34; UDC 6.76; LEGA NORD 4.58.
UNIONE (Left): L'ULIVO 31.26; RIFONDAZIONE COMUNISTA 5.84; LA ROSA NEL PUGNO 2.6; COMUNISTI ITALIANI 2.32; ITALIA DEI VALORI 2.3; VERDI 2.05.
Posted by Federico Ferrara at 9:48 AM
2 April 2006
During the spring break edition of PPBW, Adam Berinsky of MIT presented a paper entitled "Group Attachments and Public Support for War." That voters use group attachments to structure their political attitudes has a long history in political science. Converse found that while the mass public did not exhibit any ideological sophistication, group attachments could be used as a proxy to guide voters when making decisions. Although this idea has been applied to areas of domestic policy, Berinsky argues that it may be also useful in explaining public opinion about foreign affairs, specifically attitudes toward World War II.
Posted by Ian Yohai at 11:30 PM