Moral conviction stymies political compromise

Post developed by Katie Brown and Timothy Ryan


Photo credit: Thinkstock

Partisanship gets in the way of political progress. Hillary Clinton made this common claim last week. The lack of compromise inherent to partisanship is worth investigating. What causes such non-cooperation?

Timothy Ryan, a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Michigan’s Department of Political Science and affiliate of the Center for Political Studies (CPS), seeks to answer this question. In a paper presented at the 2013 meeting of the American Political Science Association – “No Compromise: Political Consequences of Moralized Attitudes” – Ryan ran four studies to understand non-cooperation.

Ryan’s overarching hypothesis boils non-compromise down to morals: a moral mindset orients citizens to oppose political compromises and punish compromising politicians. There are all kinds of issues for which some citizens seem resistant to compromises: tax reform, same-sex marriage, collective bargaining, etc. But who is resistant? Ryan shows that part of the answer has to do with who sees these issues through a moral lens.

Ryan tests moral conviction’s effect on compromise. Data come from the American National Elections Studies (ANES), as well as surveys of undergraduates, participants on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, and citizens found via GfK Research (his work was made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF)). Ryan also considers several types of compromises: hypothetical, actual, positions citizens want their elected officials to adopt, and a willingness to accept a monetary reward only if a disliked group (the Tea Party or the Progressive Change Campaign Committee) also receives a donation.

Participants with moral conviction around an issue are less likely to compromise. Hypothetical and real world compromises were hindered. Compromising politicians received less support. Personal gain was sacrificed to avoid the gain of the Tea Party (if a political adversary). As Ryan concludes, “Different attitude characteristics relate to compromise in different ways, with moral conviction being a particularly potent obstacle to compromise.”

In the fall, Ryan will continue his work on morality when he joins the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as Assistant Professor of Political Science.


How do political connections shape the use of courts?

Post developed by Katie Brown in coordination with Yuen Yuen Ang.

The fairness of China’s court system made the news this week. Apple supplier Knowles, which makes microphones and hearing-aid pieces for iPhones, asserted it was blocked from testifying in a trial with a rival of Apple. How can we understand this?

Court cases are on the rise in China, with the number of commercial cases growing steadily, second only to civil disputes. The expansion of courts should mean the rise of the rule of law and a more level playing field for firms, right? Not exactly.

Center for Political Studies (CPS) faculty associate, assistant professor of political science, and Center for Chinese Studies faculty associate Yuen Yuen Ang studies this trend. In a recent article, forthcoming in The Journal of Politics, Ang and Nan Jia find that politically connected firms are actually more likely to use courts than non-connected firms. These connected firms are congressional delegates and/or former party-state officials.

Political connections among private firms in China shape not only their access to resources and profitability, but even their willingness to use courts for dispute resolution.

Number of Court Cases by Type over Time

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 6.10.30 PM

However, the fact that politically connected firms use courts more may not signal the subversion of law. Besides having access to officeholders (“know who”), politically connected firms also tend to have more knowledge about and confidence in navigating the legal system (“know how”). So do politically connected firms use courts more because of “know who” or “know how?”

By analyzing survey data of over 3,900 private firms in China, Ang and Jia finds that “know who” dominates “know how” in inducing politically connected firms to use courts more.

Findings from the study challenge the assumption in Western-based theories that as law and courts expand, connections will diminish in influence. As the authors write:

“The substitutive view of formal laws and informal networks is premised on the substantial passage of time and absence of a strong authoritarian state in legal development. The edifices of law can be quickly built, but one cannot assume that norms and practices of impartiality will follow, particularly when courts are subordinated to politics by design. In institutional landscapes such as those of China, we can expect a fusion of legality with politics and the informal with the formal.”

The impact of ANES on the careers of Goldenberg, Green, Jones-Correa and Philpot

ANES65thThis post is part of a series celebrating the 65th anniversary of the American National Election Studies (ANES). The posts will seek to highlight some of the many ways in which the ANES has benefited scholarship, the public, and the advancement of science. Do you have ideas for additional posts? Please contact us by email ( or Twitter (@umisrcps).

Here we include comments from four prominent political scientists on how ANES has impacted their careers.

Edie Goldenberg, Professor of Political Science and Professor of Public Policy at the University of Michigan:

I used ANES data in several articles early in my career and relied on other findings based on ANES data for the book I wrote with Mike Traugott, Campaigning for Congress. I served on the Board for a while and enjoyed ANES founder Warren Miller’s retreats in Arizona during the cold Michigan winters. We always went out for authentic Mexican cuisine, which was terrific. I met a lot of colleagues through the ANES.

Donald Green, Professor of Political Science at Columbia University:

Scarcely a day goes by in which something I’m reading, debating, or studying is not in some way connected to ANES research.  My very first day in graduate school in 1983 featured a lecture by UC Berkeley Political Scientist Merrill Shanks on the insights gleaned from the four-wave 1980 ANES.  Today, decades later, I am about to run off to teach a class on political psychology, and our readings for this week include Philip Converse’s “The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics” and Ansolabehere, Rodden, and Snyder’s 2008 American Political Science Review (APSR) article that uses ANES data to show Converse would have come to different conclusions had he used multi-item scales.

Michael Jones-Correa, Professor of Government at Cornell University:

Working with the ANES and the ANES team has been both beneficial for my research and a real learning experience— particularly being part of the ANES advisory board. The intense discussion among the Primary Investigators (PIs) and board during our meetings had the best aspects of sitting in on a seminar on survey design and methods. The ANES itself has inspired me to be part of other survey data collection efforts– notably the Latino National Survey (LNS, 2006), with co-PIs Luis Fraga, John Garcia, Rodney Hero, Val Martinez, and Gary Segura, and the Latino Immigration National Election Survey (LINES 2012-2013), with James McCann. Both of these drew on, learned from, and expanded the scope of the ANES.

Tasha Philpot, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas – Austin:

I’ve utilized the ANES in almost all of my publications. The most significant point in ANES history for me was when Daron Shaw and I were able to secure National Science Foundation  (NSF) funding for the African-American oversample in 2008, a historic election. Using the African-American oversample, we were able to explore the determinants of black turnout in the 2008 election.

Digital politics – Muzammil Hussain’s research traverses borders and disciplines

Post developed by Katie Brown in coordination with Muzammil Hussain.

HussainPhotoThis post is a special edition of our researcher profile series. We’re very pleased to welcome Muzammil Hussain to the Center for Political Studies (CPS)!

Hussain’s research began in 2005 at University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he completed his Bachelor of Science degree at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Intrigued by political communication research, Hussain sought to take the American orientation of the field into parallel domains. In particular, he turned to Bangalore, India – his hometown. Hussain received a fellowship to study the social contexts and consequences of “new media” in Bangalore internet cafes, covering all types of neighborhoods: slums, religious, separated, and class-based. He also applied a variety of methods to his fieldwork in these diverse contexts.

His research interests intensified at the University of Washington, where he relocated in 2008 to pursue his M.A. and Ph.D. in Communication. Over the last three years, Hussain has shifted his research focus to political systems. In particular, his research asks how technology diffusion is a politicized, transnational project. That is, how the deployment of new internet infrastructure not only shapes the ways people use digital media in political ways, but fundamentally how these new opportunities for participation and mobilization are afforded, structured, and regulated by state powers.

His research has culminated in two book projects. Democracy’s Fourth Wave? Digital Media and the Arab Spring (OUP 2013) compares the Arab Spring in depth in 22 nations. State Power 2.0 (Ashgate 2013) is an edited volume that includes scholars from advanced democratic, authoritarian, and emerging democratic nations.

Through his field research and international stays, Hussain has seen first hand the key role state governments play in the evolution of media systems. In the future, he seeks to bring governmental systems, not just social actors, into the equation of his research. Post-internet democracies, Hussain says, are characterized as increasingly technocratic. Comparative analysis shows both advanced democracies and recalcitrant dictatorships treating public information infrastructure in surprisingly similar ways.

Muzammil Hussain is excited to be a member of both the Department of Communication Studies and the Center for Political Studies. He seeks to root his research in the areas of media studies and political communication, while drawing on the comparative ethos of political studies. These lenses allow a more comprehensive picture of comparative digital politics to emerge. Before relocating to Ann Arbor this January, Hussain completed a fellowship at the Qatar Computing Research Institute (Doha, Qatar) investigating digital activism surrounding the post-Arab Spring electoral politics in Tunisia and Yemen.

W. Phillips Shively reflects on the storied history of the ANES

This is a guest post written by W. Phillips Shively, Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota.

ANES65thThis post is part of a series celebrating the 65th anniversary of the American National Election Studies (ANES). The posts will seek to highlight some of the many ways in which the ANES has benefited scholarship, the public, and the advancement of science. Do you have ideas for additional posts? Please contact us by email ( or Twitter (@umisrcps).

First and foremost, I can’t really separate ANES, especially in its earliest and most exciting time, from Philip Converse, Donald Stokes, and Warren Miller. Though the large, ongoing dataset is seen as their legacy, it was actually a byproduct of their greatest contribution (after all, there were other large surveys being done at the time, but only theirs became institutionalized like ANES). Their real contribution was research that was breathtakingly creative and rigorous for its time. In the 1960s, when I was in graduate school, they were my gods; if he had ever had a poster, Phil Converse would have been on my dormitory room wall. They pioneered considering the interaction of data from different levels of social organization, analyzing the interplay of historical change and individual behaviors, and applying data analysis to democratic theory. The ANES data set came to be of such importance in the field because they demonstrated the beautiful things that could be done with it.


Converse, Miller, and Campbell developing ANES predecessor the Michigan Election Studies

The high point of my graduate studies was a secondary analysis of the 1956 and 1960 national election studies, to test for various processes by which individuals were influenced in their voting by their community (i.e., an early and very primitive study of contextual effects.) This was pre-computer, so I did it all with IBM cards and a card sorter. It was the most exciting thing I did in graduate school, yet all I was doing was imitating Miller, Converse, and Stokes.

In more recent years, ANES made a huge contribution when Steven Rosenstone took the lead in setting up the ambitious Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES), a cooperative study involving roughly fifty national election studies. He was able to build on years of cooperation between the ANES and international scholars, started especially by Stokes and Converse.

While the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) now serves a broad inter-disciplinary audience, it was initially a spin-off of the ANES. I attended the summer program in its second year, 1965. It consisted of a single class, co-taught by Stokes and Converse. Each day they opened some exciting new window for us. One day, Stokes introduced us to the problem of cross-level inference, which he had just started work on; I had never heard of it before, and it would become an important part of my work over the next fifty years. Another day they invited a young sociology graduate student, Gudmund Iversen, to come in and talk to us about an interesting new kind of statistics he had just learned of – Bayesian statistics.

Centralization and the origin of Russia’s election fraud

Post developed by Katie Brown in coordination with Kirill Kalinin.


Photo credit: Thinkstock

An earlier post on the Center for Political Studies (CPS) Blog covered Kirill Kalinin’s work concerning election fraud in Russia. That post showed evidence from empirical work that polls ahead of the 2012 Russian presidential election were flawed, setting the stage for subsequent election fraud. This post returns to Kalinin’s work to consider why.

Political Science Ph.D. candidate Kirill Kalinin studies election fraud. Along with Professor of Political Science, Professor of Statistics, and Center for Political Studies Faculty Associate Walter Mebane, Kalinin authored a paper – Understanding Electoral Frauds through Evolution of Russian Federalism: from “Bargaining Loyalty” to “Signaling Loyalty”  – arguing that Russia’s election fraud can be understood as rooted in federalism and a formal signaling game model.

Kalinin and Mebane support this argument with empirical analysis. The researchers find that the occurrence of 0s and 5s in the last digit of election turnout percentages to be suspicious. In fact, using statistical modeling, they find it to be linked to election fraud connected with post-election rewards and punishments. From 2000 on, fraud appears to be widespread.

But why? In 2000, Putin came to power and initiated a process of recentralization. From the mid 1990s through the 2000s, regional governors made changes based in rational strategy to Russia’s federal relations.

In the mid-1990s, the central government rewarded governors with political, institutional, and financial resources in exchange for favorable election results. In the 2000s, this escalated to election fraud.

As Kalinin concludes, “Over the most recent election cycles Russian elections have become increasingly unfree and unfair, characterized by suppression of electoral competition, rising levels of administrative interference and drastic growth of electoral frauds.” That is, the rewards for fraud have rendered Russian elections inherently fraudulent.

Contradiction, Triangulation, and the ANES

This is a guest post written by David Redlawsk, Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University and Director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling.

ANES65thThis post is part of a series celebrating the 65th anniversary of the American National Election Studies (ANES). The posts will seek to highlight some of the many ways in which the ANES has benefited scholarship, the public, and the advancement of science. Do you have ideas for additional posts? Please contact us by email ( or Twitter (@umisrcps).

For me, the American National Election Studies (ANES) goes back to my undergraduate days at Duke in the late 1970′s. In my voting behavior class we read The American Voter and The Changing American Voter. I personally did NOT “like” the view of voters from the American Voter, the basic sense that voters were not really competent. So The Changing American Voter, which suggested that voters were more issue-oriented (and thus more competent to hold representatives accountable), appealed to me. Both books were based on ANES data, and I thought it was interesting that they came to different conclusions (of course the argument was that things had “changed” in the late 60′s leading to more issue-oriented voters).

As it turns out, of course, there is a strong critique of The Changing American Voter that comes because the ANES made major question wording and response option changes in 1964 versus prior studies. Bishop, Oldendick, and Tuchfarber (1978a; 1978b), Brunk (1978), and Sullivan et al. (1978) all addressed this issue. For me it made it clear that question design was critical to understanding public opinion.

While my own work has tended to be more experimental, my first journal publication after starting my Ph.D. and after trying other directions for a career, required the ANES in order for us to validate our experimental work. Had we not had the ANES data from which we could construct our Voting Correctly measure, our findings might have remained an interesting (maybe) lab result. Instead they became a core part of our research, both in our APSR paper Voting Correctly (Lau and Redlawsk, APSR 1997) and our book How Voters Decide (Lau and Redlawsk, 2006, Cambridge University Press), both of which have been received with some interest in the discipline.

As I transitioned to doing more survey research and directing the survey center at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, the basic things I learned about question design from the ANES have been important to my work. Overall, ANES has benefited my research and teaching.

ANES: An accurate history of American politics as seen through the eyes of voters, says Morris Fiorina

Post developed by Katie Brown and Morris P. Fiorina.

ANES65thThis post is the first in a series celebrating the 65th anniversary of the American National Election Studies (ANES). The posts will seek to highlight some of the many ways in which the ANES has benefited scholarship, the public, and the advancement of science. Do you have ideas for additional posts? Please contact us by email ( or Twitter (@umisrcps).

Ahead of the 2012 Presidential election, Morris P. Fiorina, who is the Wendt Family Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times.

In the article, Fiorina used American National Election Studies (ANES) data to consider the role of the personal qualities of candidates in election outcomes.  Fiorina referenced a research report published in the British Journal of Political Science (with Samuel Abrams and Jeremy Pope) after the 2000 presidential election in the United States. The report sought to explain Al Gore’s defeat in the election during a time of peace and prosperity. The report utilized a battery of questions from the ANES that asks respondents to detail what would make them vote for or against each candidate. The authors coded the respondents’ responses to measure candidates’ personal qualities.

What was the relationship between this rating of candidates’ personal qualities and election outcomes? Looking at thirteen elections from 1952 to 2000, Fiorina and his colleagues found that in four elections the electorate gave a noticeable edge to one of the candidates, but the outcomes were not what pundits would have expected. For example, the highest rated Democratic candidate was Jimmy Carter, who lost to the lowest rated Republican candidate, Ronald Reagan, in 1980.  And the lowest rated Democratic candidate was Bill Clinton, who won a landslide re-election in 1996.

In the op-ed, based on these findings, Fiorina challenged those citing Romney’s likability deficit relative to Obama as an unlikely cause of the election outcome. As Fiorina wrote, “If Romney loses, it will be because the public believes that Obama has done a good enough job to continue or that Romney has not advanced a credible recovery program. ‘Voters didn’t like my personality’ is a loser’s excuse.”

In subsequent media interviews, Fiorina emphasized how the ANES, funded by the American National Science Foundation (NSF), is far more than another database; it is a 60 year political history of electoral politics in the US.  As Fiorina commented, “ANES provides an accurate history of modern American politics, as seen through the eyes of voters at the time, not filtered through the lenses of academic historians or biased journalists.”

Digital activism – looking to the Arab Spring and new media to understand Ukraine and Venezuela

Post developed by Katie Brown in coordination with Muzammil Hussain


Photo credit: Thinkstock

In recent weeks, massive protests have swept through Venezuela and Ukraine. Instagram and Twitter have been featured as playing a key role in the latter. Digital activism is increasingly attributes to helping spark rapid waves of mobilization across several recent international cases.

Center for Political Studies (CPS) faculty associate and assistant professor of communication Muzammil Hussain studies the role of technology in protest. With Philip N. Howard of the University of Washington, Hussain published an article weighing the roles of Internet infrastructure and mobile telephony in the Arab Spring mobilizations.

Though in a different area of the world, understanding the role of communication systems, the political uses of digital media, and the politicization of internet infrastructure in the Arab Spring can help shed light on the current wave of democratization. Hussain argues that information technologies do not cause political change, but they have become a consistent tool and space to afford and act out political contentions.

To understand the relative success of the Arab Spring across different countries in the Middle East and North Africa, the authors look at a variety of contextual factors, including income, wealth distribution, unemployment, demographics, digital connectivity, censorship, and economic dependence on fuel. In the article, they examine the impact of these factors on regime fragility and social movement success. Interestingly, they argue that the inciting incidents in each country were digitally mediated. The describe how digital communication sets off a six-stage process of political mobilization experienced in both successful and failed attempts for regime change.

The authors conclude that “information infrastructure - especially mobile phone use - consistently appears as one of the key ingredients in parsimonious models for the conjoined combinations of causes behind regime fragility and social movement success.” That is, digital communication networks, especially mobile phones, drive political upheaval. In addition to offering insight into the Arab Spring experiences, this may also help explain the recent successful ousting of Ukraine’s president.

The Arab Barometer: Measuring Change in the Middle East and North Africa

Post Developed by Katie Brown and Mark Tessler.

PrintThis is the first in a series of posts profiling innovative research projects associated with the Center for Political Studies (CPS) which make their data available at no cost for the public good. Today, we look at the Arab Barometer.

The Arab Barometer is a multi-wave, multi-country political attitude survey. Questions asked concern politics and government, religion and its political role, international affairs, and women’s rights, and status and gender relations.

The first wave of the Barometer surveys, which were carried out in 2006-2007, encompassed Algeria, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, and Yemen. The second wave of surveys, which were conducted in late 2010 and during 2011, included Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, and Yemen. The surveys in Egypt and Tunisia and most other countries were conducted in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. The third wave of data collection, which will offer even greater contributions, is currently under way and nearing completion. Conducted in transitioning post-Arab Spring societies, the data will gauge attitudes toward elections, government performance, and Islam’s role in government and political affairs.

The Arab Barometer serves both scholars and policy makers. Thanks to the cross-national and longitudinal nature of the data, comparisons can be made across countries and over time. This is especially important given the unfolding of the Arab Spring during the second of three waves of Barometer surveys.  A growing number of publications utilize Arab Barometer data. Findings have also been disseminated to policy makers through the Middle East Channel and other outlets and venues.

CPS research professor and University of Michigan professor of political science Mark Tessler and Princeton University associate professor of politics Amaney Jamal are among the co-directors of the Arab Barometer. They and others on the Arab Barometer Steering Committee work with on-the-ground teams in participating Arab countries. Associations with which the Barometer work include the Arab Reform Initiative, an international Arab organization that works for political reform, and the Global Barometer, a world-wide network of regional democracy barometers.

In 2010, the American Political Science Association (APSA) awarded the Arab Barometer the Lijphart, Przeworksi and Verba award for the best publicly available data set in comparative politics.