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Mass Partisan Resurgence and Candidate Polarization

I’m working on a paper discussing the impact of candidate polarization on party’s capacity to predict the vote. Most people think that if candidates polarize, partisanship will seem stronger. I disagree. I discuss why below. I’d love to hear some comments.

Evidence of partisan resurgence exists since the 1960’s and 1970’s among the United States electorate . Particularly, party seems to have a greater capacity to predict the vote now than ever seen in survey data. If true, the long lamented partisan dealignment has ended and a new partisan voter presents itself for analysis. Consider, however, that party’s capacity to predict the vote is partially dependent upon the ideological positions
of the major party candidates in an election. Why is this true? A series of hypotheticals will guide us.

Fitting Multilevel Models When Predictors and Group Effects Correlate

Andy and I (along with David Park, Boris Shor and others) have been working on various projects using multilevel models. We find these models are often optimal, particularly when dealing with small sample sizes in groups (individuals in states, students in schools, states in years, etc.). Many social scientists who come from an econometric background are skeptical of multilevel models because they model varying intercepts with error (often called random effects). With modeled varying intercepts, there’s the possibility that the predictors will correlate with the varying intercepts problematically. Andy and I wrote a paper discussing how this can be solved. Download file

Al Qaeda and Iraq: An Under Explored Link

The United States is amidst a war in Iraq. Entry into the war by the U.S. was justified on multiple grounds. One such justification was the connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq. Political leaders have described an Iraq that has provided aid and comfort to terrorist operatives. As late as June 17, 2004, Vice President Richard Cheney argued, “There clearly was a relationship. It’s been testified to. It goes back to the early ‘90s. It involves a whole series of contacts, high-level contacts with Osama Bin Laden and Iraqi intelligence officials.” The issue continues to be debated. What has gone largely unnoticed is a bit of history that closely links Al Qaeda with the situation in Iraq in a fashion rarely discussed.

Midterm Balancing Still True?

Bob Erikson, Chris Wlezien and I have been working on a paper about midterm balancing. We see it as still very viable and find solid evidence that it happens. In what follows, I have copied in portions of the paper. They will reveal what we did, what we found and what it all means. The paper is under review at POQ.

In 1998, as the unpopular impeachment of President Bill Clinton was unfolding, Clinton’s Democrats gained seats in the House of Representatives. In 2002, in the shadow of 9/11, President George W. Bush’s Republicans gained House seats as well. These two recent instances might make it seem commonplace for the presidential party to gain House seats at midterm. Indeed, the early interpretations of 2002 by Jacobson (2003) and Campbell (2003) emphasized the theme that this election unfolded as normal politics. Jacobson even chose not to remark about the historical significance of the presidential party gaining seats. The historical pattern, of course, is that the presidential party loses seats at midterm. This in fact had been more than simply a pattern, and almost a deterministic law of politics. From 1842 through 1994, the presidential party gained seats (as a proportion of the total) only once—in 1934 as the FDR-led Democrats’ surged with a gain of nine seats. This was a spectacular run of 38 presidential party losses in 39 midterm elections. Clearly, forces are at work in American politics to diminish the electoral standing of the presidential party at midterm.