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CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS Before and Beyond

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CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS 2014 Before and Beyond EXAM NEXT MONDAY (NOV 10 TH ) Reading last week Lowi Chpt 12, (Interest Groups) Part of Chpt 9 ( ) Ellis & Nelson Chpt 5 Reading this week Lowi Chpt
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CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS 2014 Before and Beyond EXAM NEXT MONDAY (NOV 10 TH ) Reading last week Lowi Chpt 12, (Interest Groups) Part of Chpt 9 ( ) Ellis & Nelson Chpt 5 Reading this week Lowi Chpt 10 (Elections) Lowi Chpt 5 (Congress) VOTING & ELECTIONS Voting and Elections Q: what affects how people decide? Q: how do we interpret the meaning of elections results? Q: What might happen tomorrow 90%+ of incumbents in US House will win Dems will lose seats FACTORS AFFECTING THE VOTE DECISION Conventional wisdom (overstated) voters deliberate Debates, follow media vote based on candidate not party Commercials, ads... FACTORS AFFECTING THE VOTE DECISION Partisanship store of political information long term socialization to politics what if no party label on ballot? FACTORS AFFECTING THE VOTE DECISION Incumbency name recognition incumbents have self-promotion advantage the devil you know vs. devil you don t know incumbents get 90% of PAC $$ few credible challengers FACTORS AFFECTING THE VOTE DECISION Economic conditions (the Issue) a form of issue voting reward incumbents when times are good punish incumbents when times are bad this assumes folks know economic conditions this assume folks know who to blame FACTORS AFFECTING THE VOTE DECISION Economic conditions (the Issue) Prospective voting Retrospective voting FACTORS AFFECTING THE VOTE DECISION Candidate traits Background Views Demographics Personality FACTORS AFFECTING THE VOTE DECISION Campaigns Compare presidential campaign to congressional Few people exposed to congressional campaigns Few competitive races Little / no spending in most districts Limited media attention if not competitive CONGRESSIONAL ELECTION PUZZLES 1) Why does president s party lose seats in midterms? 2) Why does party with most votes not have most seats 3) Why is Congress so polarized? 4) What effects of all that campaign spending? 5) How can Congress have 10% approval, and 95% re-election rate? WHAT WE VE KNOWN FOR YEARS 2/3 of people won t vote in this election Nearly (90%+) all incumbents will get re-elected The opposition party (Republicans) will gain seats House, 2014 Dem loss will be less than normal Senate - probably a Rep majority ( = 2008) MIDTERM ELECTION Today, seats in US House, all up for reelection 234 Republican 201 Democratic WHY DOES THE PRESIDENT S PARTY LOSE HOUSE SEATS IN MIDTERMS Reagan 1982 GOP lost 26 seats 4.6% swing against Clinton 1994 Dems lost 54 seats 5.3% swing against Obama 2010 Dems lost 63 seats 8.3% swing against How many House seats will Democrats lose? why was 1994, 2010 such a wipeout for Dems? 1994 GOP trend 2010 surge & decline Seat Gain/Loss For President's Party in US House Surge and Decline: President s party gain on year, Lose in midterm. Avg= 24 seat loss in midterm It Takes Seats to Lose Seats: 2010 looks like 1994, 1974, 1946, (but worse) 2010 MIDTERM Why surge and decline? Presidential elections MUCH higher turnout ?? 58% 40% 62% 40% 60% 40% 54% 38% 130 million 88 million 133 million 86 million 124 million 80 million 107 million 75 million Voters mobilized by presidential elections stay home 2 years later Not many voters changing their votes it s who shows up 50 million who voted in 2012 will stay home tomorrow HOW COME PARTY WITH MOST VOTES DOESN T HAVE MOST SEATS? 2012 Dems 48.8% votes 46.2% seats GOP 47.6% votes 54.8% seats 1.3 million fewer votes Single Member Districts Not that simple Dems have inefficient distribution of seats Some candidates run unopposed HOW COME PARTY WITH MOST VOTES DOESN T HAVE MOST SEATS? Single-member winner take all Plurality elections do not translate votes into seats well Even if just 2 parties SO, TOMORROW US HOUSE Swing against the Democrats will be % votes Swing against the Democrats will be # seats Average loss for president s party in 2 nd term 24 seats More safe one-party districts mean it takes a larger swing in votes to move seats 1% swing against party = about 6 seats POLARIZATION IN CONGRESS Democrats and Republicans farther apart now than ever (since Civil War) Why? Does this reflect polarization of public opinion? Do congressional election results represent us? Or something else? POLARIZATION, US HOUSE (FLOOR VOTING) MORE POLARIZED THAN EVER (FLOOR VOTING) NO MORE (GOP) MODERATES IN HOUSE SYMPTOMS Rare for a district to split Dem for one office, GOP for another Greater party line voting (unity) in Congress President s party more power if control Congress Less gets done if divided government $4 billion spent in just a few states/districts GOP now Senate majority LAST NIGHT GOP gains in House + 12 (?) Pot, minimum wage, gun control POLARIZATION IN CONGRESS: USUAL SUSPECTS Electoral Institutions Primary elections Gerrymandering Campaign finance rules Behavioral Public opinion / partisanship We want it, so elect it Media And.sorting POLARIZATION - PARTY DISCIPLINE Most Democrats vote one way Most Republicans vote the other way Discipline stronger than ever Why? Are elections producing like-minded partisans? What effects on public? PARTY UNITY / DISCIPLINE POLARIZATION: PRIMARIES? Primary election logic Closed = extreme voters November choices reflect this Open = moderates Blanket / top two =?? This guy would never win a closed GOP primary in California - POLARIZATION: PRIMARIES? Evidence Hard to tell Gerber & Morton, Open = representatives more like median voter (cross-sectional) Others say not much effect Changes in rules do not correspond with increased polarization But who votes in primaries? POLARIZATION: PRIMARIES? General Election Risky for nominees to move to center partisan promises in primaries Choices for independents in November reflect primary selections of polarized partisans Primaries centrifugal force POLARIZATION: GERRYMANDERING Logic Partisan legislators + GIS = safe seats One party gerrymanders Bi-partisan gerrymanders Safe seat = rewards extremist candidates Safe seat = No fear of defeat in election POLARIZATION: GERRYMANDERING It isn't easy to gerrymander Try this at home: Dave s Redistricting app. 2.2 How many competitive seats can we carve out out Washington State? Preserving communities of interest Contiguous No bizarre shapes Equal population COMMISSION WA MAP, 2012 (6-4) COMMISSION MAP (2012 #S = % OBAMA) 1 Lyn/Bel 2 Sno/SJ 54% D 59% D 3 SW WA 48% D* 4 Ea WA 38% D* 5 Ea WA 44% D* 6 Oly Pn 56% D 7 Sea 79% D 8 E King E, 49.7 D* 9 King, Prc 68% D 10 Prc Oly 56% D 6 Dems, 4 GOP 3 marginal seats * = GOP seat GERRYMANDERED WA MAP (9-1) MY MAP 1 Sea 1 70% D 2 Oly Pn 53% D 3 Bhm/Evt 56% D 4 Yak 55% D 5 E. Wa 38% D* 6 Rivers 52% D 7 Sea 2 60% D 8 Sea/Wen 58% D 9 Sea/Lev 75% D 10 Oly/Van 53% D 9 Dem, 1 GOP 3 marginal districts GERRYMANDERING Evidence Look at Massachusetts 9 districts, all Dem GOP governors, Senator Or Texas, Florida, Illinois... POLARIZATION: GERRYMANDERING Evidence There are fewer competitive House districts Less than 10% of 435 States legislatures with non-partisan plans might be slightly less polarized POLARIZATION: GERRYMANDERING BUT: US Senate is polarizing too Senate not districted Look at GOP & Dem Senators from same state 2 reps from same House seat extremely different Swing district send extreme reps too FLORIDA: NELSON & RUBIO 77 th most conservative 17 th most conservative IOWA: HARKIN & GRASSLEY/ERNST 74 th most conservative Grassley 11 th most conservative MONTANA: WALSH/TESTER & DAINES 53 rd most conservative Baucus was 55 th This guy will be in top 25 NOT GERRYMANDERING North Dakota Heidi Heitkamp D 50 th most conservative John Hoeven R 30th most conservative South Dakota Tim Johnson D 70 th most conservative John Thune R 17th most conservative Nevada (21 st & 79 th ), Ohio (85 th & 28 th ), POLARIZATION: GERRYMANDERING Have things changed in districting practices to explain change in polarization? If anything, more non-partisan commissions Problem of geography Increasingly hard to gerrymander US House even if you try POLARIZATION: CAMPAIGN FINANCE Follow the money Massive increases (even before Citizen s United) Donors are polarized POLARIZATION: CAMPAIGN FINANCE Fewer places to spend money See gerrymandering More money than ever for negative ads See WA 42 nd State Senate race In the few districts left that are competitive Competitive should = centrists POLARIZATION: CAMPAIGN FINANCE Post 1970s, Interest group activity FEC & PACs independent expenditures Candidates, issue groups replacing old parties TV costs Nominations, issue ads Post 2000s, Billionaires, etc. playing games POLARIZATION: CAMPAIGN FINANCE Extreme voices given disproportionate influence in candidate selection, recruitment Consider Connecticut, 2006 (or any year) Nancy Johnson (4 th least conservative GOP - $7.6m) Lost Rob Simmons, (5 th least conservative GOP - $5.6m) Lost Chris Shays, (9 th least conservative GOP - $6.8m) 6k votes, lost in 08 EFFECTS OF THE ADS? Awareness of Congress up Less approval of Congress Candidate s ideology seen as extreme Members of Congress & candidates seen as having no integrity Campaign spending - people see Congress as corrupt SO, WHY SO MUCH POLARIZATION? Part of the problem is us Voters who show up are partisans Primaries, gerrymandering Also part of problem Money, media & partisan sorting Larger part of the problem ELECTORAL REFORMS What goals? What is broken that needs fixing? ELECTORAL REFORMS Primaries Top Two Open Closed ELECTORAL REFORMS Non partisan redistricting California model Washington model Texas model ELECTORAL REFORMS Term Limits Proportional representation Campaign finance CONGRESSIONAL REFORMS Discharge petition Filibuster
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