Ballot initiatives legislate on important issues including taxes, spending, law enforcement, education, health care and civil rights. Given the stakes, it is not surprising that vast sums are spent trying to pass or defeat initiatives — amounts that rival the spending on U.S. Presidential campaigns. However, political scientists have been uncertain about whether all that … Continue reading »
Understanding and curing myopic voting: Why voters focus on the election-year economy
By Andrew Healy and Gabriel Lenz In the U.S., we — the voters — elect our presidents using a potentially problematic decision rule: we largely decide who will be president based on the election-year economy (1, 2, 3). If the economy is on an upswing before the election, we usually retain the president or his … Continue reading »
Leave election integrity to chance
How do we know whether the reported winners of an election really won? There’s no perfect way to count votes. To paraphrase Ulysses S. Grant and Richard M. Nixon, “Mistakes will be made.” Voters don’t always follow instructions. Voting systems can be mis-programmed, as they were last year in Palm Beach, Florida. Ballots can be … Continue reading »
Our gerrymandered (and proud of it!) majority and other ploys
After the Tea Party sweep in 2010, a group of Rust Belt states that voted for Obama in 2008 and then in 2012 were left with state governments completely controlled by Republicans: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio. Since then, Republicans in those states have become increasingly brazen in their attempts to sue their (flukey) … Continue reading »
One of the simmering issues of the political summer is the court battle over voter identification laws in many Republican-governed states. Requirements that voters present photo IDs, such as drivers’ licenses, and other constraints, such as curtailing early voting, promise to reduce the number of poor, elderly, and minority voters in those states. One of … Continue reading »
Landslide, tsunami, or pendulum?
Tuesday’s election produced a torrent of catastrophe rhetoric: Republicans retaking control of the House of Representatives by a solid margin was repeatedly characterized as a tsunami, an earthquake, or a landslide. What these metaphors have in common– other than representing what happened as disastrous, a point perhaps lost on the commentators, including those celebrating the … Continue reading »
Sanity or fear? We decide.
Today is election day. Elections are about numbers: who wins the most votes? So it seems like a good time to think about two sets of numbers: one the number of voters, registered and likely; the other, the number of people who mobilized this past Saturday in response to a call from two comedians who … Continue reading »