Nov 25, 2014 | ANES, ANES 65th Anniversary
Post developed by John H. Aldrich (Duke University).
This 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.
My contact with the ANES began in 1966, or maybe it was in 1967, in John Kessel’s class at Allegheny College, when we read that relatively new book, The American Voter. It was presented to us then as revolutionary and that assessment stands today. Since then, it has become my good fortune to be able to be involved in the ANES, on which that book was based, in a wide variety of ways. Let me mention two dimensions of the ANES, the CSES and the future.
The Comparative Studies of Electoral Systems (CSES), led into being by Steve Rosenstone from the ANES among others, is the extension of the aspirations of the ANES into a truly comparative context. That set of aspirations was to demand the highest quality research design and data collection to enable the strongest inferences possible about how elections work. CSES is primarily the comparative study of differing democratic institutions and cultures, and the idea is to have as close to “gold standard” data collected on exactly the same topics in as many electoral democracies as possible, so we can learn just what is special to particular nations or electoral systems and what is general. The notion, that is, is to make possible the strongest science of democracy we can. We are now entering the fifth round of such studies, and the advances are becoming quite remarkable (see www.cses.org for what is nearly 20 years of research). The point is that not only was the ANES the original model, an important source of leadership, and indeed, was the justification for NSF support for the project, but all that continues to this day.
The ANES (and indeed the CSES) is entering a critical period. There are two kinds of threats, and hence two kinds of opportunities. One threat is external. The cost of the maintaining the gold standard is very high, possibly unsustainably so, and funding in the U.S., as in many nations, is under threat. In the U.S., it is under political threat, as Congress seriously considers limiting the scope of the science it will support through the NSF. The internal threat is, of course, related to cost, but it is also that maintaining the gold standard of excellence in design faces new and ever stronger challenges. While the ANES has over time maintained a position at the head of the class in terms of response rates, its current response rates, like everyone else’s, are much lower than desired and also lower than they were not so long ago. And new technologies present new challenges as to how best to meet standards of excellence in research design and survey implementation. The need for both new science and its engineering counterparts in the face of declining interest in participating in surveys and other challenges is acute – but it is also something that the scientific community surrounding and supporting the ANES ought to be especially attuned to and especially good at creating. So, this is a challenge to the community to step up, as Campbell, Converse, Miller and Stokes and as Kish did 65 years ago.
Nov 21, 2014 | Conflict, Current Events, Foreign Affairs, International
Written by William Foreman for Global Michigan. Reblogged here with permission.
Pro-Russian militants in Eastern Ukraine. (Credit: VOA)
As the conflict grinds on in Ukraine, there are more questions about Russia’s intentions, the effectiveness of sanctions and what the West can do to end the fighting. These issues were discussed in a Global Michigan interview with Yuri Zhukov.
Zhukov is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Michigan and a faculty associate at the Center for Political Studies. His expertise is in international and civil conflicts.
The scholar has several projects ongoing on the fighting in East Ukraine. He’s interested in rebel movements in the region, the economics behind the conflict, military operations and the “information war” in the Russian and Ukrainian media. He recently wrote a piece for Foreign Affairs.
What is Russia up to now?
Zhukov: Last week, NATO accused Russia of sending tanks and artillery into Ukraine, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe reported seeing a column of unmarked military trucks heading toward Donetsk. Russia denies these claims, and accuses Ukraine of concentrating its own forces near the front line. In fact, both sides of the conflict have been steadily ratcheting up tensions since elections this fall, in government and separatist-controlled areas of Ukraine. The outcome in each election simply reinforced the status quo, but both sides may now feel they have a stronger mandate to take bold steps.
Are the reported troop movements into Ukraine part of a plan to create a land bridge with Crimea or annex more of the country?
Zhukov: These troop movements are not large enough to take significant territory outside rebel-held areas in Donetsk and Luhansk. They are more likely reinforcements for rebel units fighting in Donetsk airport and other contested areas and a deterrent against sudden moves by Ukraine.
Are the sanctions helping or hurting Russian President Vladimir Putin?
Zhukov: In the short term, the sanctions may have created a “rally-around-the-flag” effect, which boosts Putin’s domestic popularity. But historically, Putin has owed much of his popularity to perceptions of sound economic management. Russian consumers are seeing higher food prices, and the ruble has lost over a third of its value since the crisis began. Putin’s poll numbers are still high, but beginning to fall.
If the fighting escalates, should the U.S. and EU provide arms to Ukraine?
Zhukov: Some countries have already provided military aid, on a bilateral basis, most of it nonlethal. The larger question is whether Western military aid can actually change the military balance of power on the ground. Russia will surely see such a policy as a major provocation and will respond in kind. This could trigger an arms race along the lines we have seen in Syria, with increasing flows of weapons and fighters to both sides. This is also a commitment that the West would need to sustain for some time. Major military aid may deter rebels from taking more ground but is unlikely to reverse existing rebel gains in the near future.
Should there be more sanctions?
Zhukov: It depends. Some types of sanctions—like freezing the assets of wealthy Russians in Europe—actually align with Putin’s policy goal of “de-offshorization.” Anything that makes it more difficult for powerful Russians to park their money abroad is a win for Putin. Some of the new measures currently on the table—like blocking Russian banks and businesses from the SWIFT financial transaction system—will have bigger impact.
Sanctions can and are already hurting Russia’s economy. Whether they can also change the course of the Ukrainian conflict is a different matter. There is no “magic switch” that Putin can press to stop the fighting. The rebel high command has been replaced by a cadre of more professional, manageable leaders, but the rebellion as a whole is still a diverse, fractious lot. Many rival militias are looking to carve a place for themselves in the new “Peoples’ Republics,” and quite a few locals feel betrayed that Russia did not intervene more forcefully. Sanctions are unlikely to change the decision calculus of these actors.
What more can the West do?
Zhukov: The West has limited options, and many of them—like military aid, alliance commitments to Ukraine, even sanctions—are more likely to escalate the conflict than stop it. Russia has made clear that it is ready to intervene if the tide of the war turns decisively against the rebels—as it did, temporarily, in August this year. Any future steps—in Kyiv or the West—will take place against the background of this latent threat of force. What’s worse, the terms of the current ceasefire agreement are suboptimal for all parties. Rebel leaders want to eliminate pockets of government forces and create a more contiguous, governable territory. The Ukrainian president is under pressure from hard line elements in the government to take bolder action. The best course of action for the U.S. is to tread carefully, and do everything possible to restrain both sides.
Nov 19, 2014 | Conflict, Current Events, Foreign Affairs, International
Post developed by Katie Brown and David A. Lake.
ISIL (a.k.a. ISIS, a.k.a. Da’ish) in Syria and Iraq. Al-Shabaab in Somalia. Boko Haram in Nigeria. Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan. All of these insurgent groups have risen to power in failed states, or “ungoverned spaces.” Can we fix these failed spaces?
David A. Lake, Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of California San Diego and Director of the Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research, addressed this question in a talk titled “The Statebuilder’s Dilemma: Legitimacy, Loyalty, and the Limits of External Intervention” at the annual Harold Jacobson Lecture in International Law which was held on October 23rd, 2014.
Statebuilding seeks to bring stability to unstable regions. Typically, an outside political power, e.g., the United States, will create a new government in a volatile region. In doing so, they attempt to bring a monopoly to legitimate violence. Usually this means supporting a political leader who can build a political coalition to overcome the conflicts. Often, the statebuilder marches in, plants a stake in the ground, and declares a new order. They guarantee this order as long as the different factions honor the new regime.
Statebuilding presents challenges. First, it is very expensive, with the bulk of the cost falling on the failed state. The key to success is balancing legitimacy and loyalty, which proves to be a delicate balance. That is, the new leader must remain loyal to the statebuilder but also seem legitimate to the local population. The more interest the statebuilder has in the region, the more they will require loyalty. Statebuilding fails when the new leader balks at the loyalty. Instead, money meant to be invested in building infrastructure is diverted into building his political coalition.
With the exception of Japan and Germany post-World War II, statebuilding tends to fail. The opening examples exemplify this. So Lake poses the important question: What can be done?
Lake facetiously suggests not engaging in statebuilding as the best solution. Recognizing abstention to be unlikely, he offers a few other guidelines. First, better strategy and implementation is needed, especially around election timing and monitoring. Second, an international coalition should monitor statebuilding and the process of transferring power completely to the new state.
Nov 10, 2014 | Innovative Methodology, International, Law
Post developed by Katie Brown and Ugo Troiano.
In Italy, would be tax evaders hide money in houses. In response, the Italian government developed a “Ghost Buildings” program which used technology to identify and monitor buildings otherwise hidden from tax authorities. In total, the Italian government identified two million houses that were hidden for tax purposes.
How do voters respond to anti-tax evasion policy? Answering this question has been a challenge because tax evasion is illegal and is typically very hard to measure. However, the Ghost Buildings program offers a unique opportunity to investigate the issue. Center for Political Studies (CPS) Faculty Associate and Department of Economics Assistant Professor Ugo Troiano seized this chance in a working paper along with his co-author Lorenzo Casaburi who is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR).
The authors approached the research knowing that anti-tax evasion programs like the Ghost Building program hurt tax evaders while benefiting tax payers. Usually, one assumes evaders to be the minority and payers to be the majority. If this is the case, a program like Italy’s Ghost Buildings one should boost public opinion in support of incumbents as payers support the crackdown on evaders.
To test the effect in Italy, the authors mapped the identified Ghost Buildings to calculate a town-by-town concentration, as illustrated by the graph below.
Ghost Building Concentration
The authors also collected geographic and socio-economic data for the same towns. They found tax evasion to be more prevalent in cities, possibly because cities offer more opportunity to to buy houses from a larger stock. Tax evasion was also found to have an inverse relationship with social capital and income.
Troiano and Casaburi then looked at the impact of the Ghost Buildings program on vote choice. Specifically, they were interested in change in support for incumbent politicians. The graph below displays the results:
Difference in Reelection Rates Pre- to Post- Ghost Buildings Program
The positive trend-line shows that the higher the proportion of Ghost Buildings in a given town, the more that vote support for the incumbent increases. The authors therefore concluded that, “Local incumbents are shown to obtain positive political returns, namely, an increase in their reelection likelihood, from the Ghost Building program.”
The authors found that fighting tax evasion allowed politicians to increase public good provision, thereby creating material benefits to society. Second, support for the incumbent who fights tax evasion was found to be stronger in regions with attitudes more hostile to evaders. The authors also looked at responses to the World Values Survey question “Do you think tax evasion is justifiable?” and what they found suggests that tax enforcement and attitudes toward evasion have a complementary relationship.
Nov 3, 2014 | Elections, Innovative Methodology, National
Post developed by Katie Brown and Kristyn L. Karl.
It’s election time again. And elections bring advertising assaults by Internet, radio, and TV. In Michigan and Iowa, there is one political TV ad every two minutes. But what effect does this have on potential voters?
Center for Political Studies (CPS) affiliate and Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at the University of Michigan Kristyn L. Karl investigated this question. Where previous research in this area uses self-reported measures of emotional response, Karl tackled the issue with a randomized experiment capturing a direct measure of physiological arousal – skin conductance. She was interested in the impact of emotional arousal from political ads on citizens’ intention to participate in politics.
Sample Skin Conductance Output
For the study, Karl brought participants into the lab and measured their skin conductance while watching a political advertisement. The ad was fictitious and created in a way that gave Karl control over the message, images, music, and structure. Karl designed four ads: a positive Democratic or Republican ad, and attack ads on Democrats or Republicans. Participants randomly watched one of the four ads while their physiological arousal was captured; after the ad, they reported their current emotions and their willingness to participate with regard to 1) signing a petition, 2) initiating a conversation on a political topic, and 3) attending a meeting, rally, or demonstration.
Karl finds some key differences between political novices and more experienced participants. For political novices, both physiological arousal and self-reported negative emotion positively predicted participation in politics. Among political experts, however, the connection between arousal, self-reported emotion, and intended participation is more muted. Specifically, while the trend is still positive, the effect fails to reach statistical significance.
The Marginal Effect of Physiological Arousal on Political Participation by Political Sophistication
Karl turns to theory to explain the limited effect of arousal on intention to participate among experts. Experts have a well-developed cognitive network about politics which, for better or worse, allows them to more easily interpret and condition their emotional responses to political stimuli. Political novices do not have this expansive network and so react in a more instinctual way. The model below captures this:
This experiment highlights the importance of using alternative measures of emotional arousal as a complementary tool to self-reported measures. Moreover, it draws attention to the question of for whom political ads are motivating and how do they work.