Department of Political Science,
University of Michigan, 2009-
Department of Political Science
University of Michigan
5700 Haven Hall
505 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1045
Telephone: (917) 861-7712
American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 57, No. 1: 200-217 (Forthcoming).
American Journal of Political Science. Vol. 54, No. 2: 301-322.
The Effect of Chamber Size on Government Spending in Bicameral Legislatures. (with Neil Malhotra)
American Political Science Review. Vol. 101, No. 4: 657-676.
Political Geography and Electoral Bias in Legislatures. (with Jonathan Rodden)
Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Forthcoming).
Reactions: The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Orlando Sentinel, The Florida Times-Union, The Sarasota Herald-Tribune, The St. Augustine Record, The Daytona Beach News-Journal, The Suwanee Democrat, Florida Trend, The Gulf Coast Business Review, The Palm Beach Post, The New York Times.
Abstract: While conventional wisdom holds that partisan bias in US legislative elections results from intentional partisan and racial gerrymandering, we demonstrate that substantial bias can also emerge from patterns of human geography. We show that in many states, Democrats are inefficiently concentrated in large cities and smaller industrial agglomerations such that they can expect to win fewer than 50 percent of the seats when they win 50 percent of the votes. To measure this "unintentional gerrymandering," we use automated districting simulations based on precinct-level 2000 presidential election results in several states. Our results illustrate a strong relationship between the geographic concentration of Democratic voters and electoral bias favoring Republicans.
Estimating and Explaining Ideological Change in Executive Agencies. (with Tim Johnson)
Forthcoming, Journal of Theoretical Politics.
Abstract: We present a formal model explaining that U.S. presidents strategically unionize federal employees to reduce bureaucratic turnover and "anchor" the ideological composition of like-minded agency workforces. To test our model's predictions, we advance a method of estimating bureaucratic ideology via the campaign contributions of federal employees; we then use these bureaucratic ideal point estimates in a comprehensive empirical test of our model. Consistent with our model's predictions, our empirical tests find that federal employee unionization stifles agency turnover, suppresses ideological volatility when the president's partisanship changes, and occurs more frequently in agencies ideologically proximate to the president.
An Application to the Senate Confirmation of Presidential Nominees. (with Adam Bonica and Tim Johnson)
Revise and Resubmit, Quarterly Journal of Political Science.
Abstract: This paper uses political campaign contributions to estimate public bureaucrats' political ideologies. Bureaucrat ideal points estimated via our method vary across time, compare meaningfully with ideological estimates in other branches of government, cover employees across a wide range of agencies, yield insight into intra-agency ideological variation, and are produced automatically from public records. To demonstrate our method, we estimate the political ideologies of appointed administrators in the U.S. federal government. We then use those estimates to test hypotheses about how U.S. presidents strategically manage the process of appointing individuals to federal bureaucratic posts requiring Senate confirmation.
Senior Opinion, Legislative Behavior, and Federal Health Reform. (With Katharine Bradley)
Forthcoming, Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law.
Revise and Resubmit, State Politics and Policy Quarterly.
Abstract: How does the size of a legislature affect the competitiveness of its districts' elections? This paper theoretically develops and empirically tests three hypotheses concerning the effect of legislative chamber size on electoral competition and partisan gerrymandering. First, in swing states, legislature size has a negative effect on the fraction of districts that are electorally competitive; the intuition here is that smaller districts are more politically homogenous and thus less competitive. Second, in those few states that are extremely Democratic (e.g., New York) or extremely Republican (e.g., Alabama), legislature size has a single-peaked relationship with electoral competitiveness: Moderate-sized legislative chambers produce the most competitive districts. Finally, because political gerrymanderers often seek to manipulate electorally vulnerable districts, a decline in competitive districts should cause a decrease in partisan gerrymandering. Therefore, among swing states, larger legislative chambers should exhibit less gerrymandering than smaller chambers. To empirically test these three arguments, I first present data from state legislative election results during 1992-2002. I then conduct automated, repeated simulations of state legislature and Congressional districting across several states. These simulations allow us to isolate the effect of legislature size on electoral competitiveness, thus removing confounding factors such as gerrymandering, candidate quality, and incumbency advantage. Finally, in order to measure the extent of gerrymandering in each legislative chamber, I compare real-life districting plans against the simulated districting plans. By comparing these two sets of plans, I estimate the extent to which gerrymanderers politically manipulated legislative districts in the 2002 redistricting cycle.
Abstract: This paper presents a new method of estimating the ideal points of US federal agencies using the campaign contributions of bureaucrats employed by each agency. Ideal points are calculated by examining the Common Space DW-NOMINATE scores of incumbent federal politicians who receive campaign contributions from each agency's bureaucratic personnel. These ideal point estimates exhibit face validity under tests of some basic hypotheses about the partisan control of bureaucratic agencies. The substantive contribution of this paper is to show that the most right-wing agencies under a Republican administration often become the most leftwing agencies under a Democratic presidency. That is, agency ideal points under a Republican president exhibit a negative correlation with agency ideal points under a Democratic administration.