Archive for the ‘political science’ Category

the cuban victory in the republican party

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A number of writers noticed that we overlooked an important bit of news last week during the Iowa caucus – two Latinos and a Black man took 60% of the Iowa GOP caucus. At the very least, this is newsworthy and merits explanation.

Here’s how we should understand the rise of Rubio and Cruz. The basic elements of minority party politics are as follows:

  • African Americans started in the GOP but moved to the Democratic party.
  • Groups that were forcibly assimilated into the US tend to go Democrat – Native Americans, Mexicans, Filipinos.
  • Groups that benefited from Cold War politics tend to lean GOP more than others – Vietnamese, Cubans.
  • Other voluntary migrants vary but if they are harassed or repressed they lean Democrat.

Using these rules of thumb, it is easy to see how Cruz and Rubio make a path to the top of the GOP. They are Cubans, who have influence in the GOP, especially in Florida. They are also from states with strong GOP parties – Florida and Texas. As many folks have noted, they downplay their ethnic background as well and kowtow to the anti-immigration crowd. Briefly, Rubio endorsed some sort of compromise on immigration but walked that back.

The rise of these two candidates does not represent a big swing of Latino voters to the GOP – that would only happen if large numbers of Mexicans defect from the GOP. It does however reflect an opening made possible by the complex history of US foreign relations. In the messy world of Cold War politics, the US chose to favor Cubans and, decades later, their children are steps away from the White House. And oddly, Castro might be alive to see it!

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Written by fabiorojas

February 8, 2016 at 12:01 am

#bern toast

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As of 10:45 pm, Hillary Clinton maintains a slim lead over Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Iowa Caucus. In terms of absolute performance, Sanders fans should be happy. When all votes are tallied, Sanders will either win the caucus or lose by a very slim margin. That means that Sanders will continue. He’ll win New Hampshire and make it to Super Tuesday and probably win a few more states.

However, in terms of winning the nomination, this is tough for Sanders. The reason is that Clinton is the party’s candidate and about 45% of voters in the Democratic party are extremely comfortable with her. They will only defect in sufficiently large numbers if they see that she is indeed crumbling and they need an unambiguous signal. If 2008 is any guide, Hilary can reliably depend on 40% – no matter what happens. Even after it was abundantly clear in 2008 that Clinton did not have a reasonable chance at catching Obama in the delegate count, she still kept winning big states like California, Pennsylvania and Ohio – by large margins (but not enough to make up for earlier losses).

Adding to the problem for Sanders is that Obama’s strategy – maxing out caucus states – only works once. Clinton’s campaign simply wasn’t prepared for it and they weren’t prepared for a campaign that went beyond Super Tuesday. They are prepared this time, poorly perhaps, but prepared. The close race in Iowa shows it.

Here’s the bottom line. When you fight the party’s candidate, you need to seriously knock them down to break the view that they are invincible. Obama did that with a completely unexpected 8% victory. A near miss or narrow victory by Sanders does not do that, so it will be very, very hard to trigger a mass migration that needs to happen over the next month for a Sanders win.

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Written by fabiorojas

February 2, 2016 at 4:01 am

iowa caucus poll 2016

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Written by fabiorojas

January 29, 2016 at 3:07 am

theory of fields vs. dynamics of contention

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I am currently working on a piece that closely reads the emerging theory of fields and the (non?) synthesis of movement research and organizations. At present, I am interested in the following theoretical questions.

  1. Is the theory presented in Theory of Fields the current standard? Lots of people have taken aim at ToF (including myself) but few people have offered alternatives. Is that accurate?
  2. What is the difference between Theory of Fields and Dynamics of Contention?
  3. What are the distinctive predictions of ToF/DoC?

A few brief responses:

  1. Even though ToF/DoC were thoroughly critiques, I think a lot of research can safely be described using the ToF/DoC framework. For example, if we look at recent issues of Mobilization, we see that many articles focus on “fields of organization” and topics that fit into the broad category of “state-challenger dynamics.” We also see some applications of the less appreciated parts of ToF, such as social skill theory, when we look at activist repertoires and political skill. In contrast, a lot of the critics of the ToF/DoC axis have yet to offer a systematic alternative.
  2. After reading ToF and DoC very closely, it is clear that ToF is an expansion and generalization of DoC. The main piece of evidence is that each book presents a diagram illustrating the basic unit of analysis – the incumbent/challenger episode of contention. In each book, the conflict cycle is almost identical. In ToF, it is Fgure 1.1. on page 20. In DoC , it is Fure 2.1 on page 45. The main difference is that (a) ToF situates the incumbent-challenger conflict episode within any field, not just the state and (b) ToF has some additional theory about distinctive fields and organizations (e.g., the state and accreditors/regulators within fields).
  3. On one level, ToF/DoC might be viewed more as a useful language than a theory with predictions – you can describe the anatomy of any conflict in ToF/DoC terms. On another level, ToF/DoC does make implicit predictions. The idea is that fields are structured patterns of relations, resources, and identities. Thus, any serious change should really focus on disruptions of that system, which, on the average, will be contentious.

Add your comments on field theory, ToF/DoC, and institutionalism in the comments.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street 

Written by fabiorojas

January 27, 2016 at 12:01 am

is there discrimination against conservative law professors?

We’ve often discussed the ideological profile of the academy on this blog. My own view is that there is massive self-selection. Gross’ book on conservative academics finds systematic evidence that conservative ideology correlates with a stronger preference for highly paid careers. That means that conservative undergraduates, as a group, would be going strongly against their preferences for higher lifetime income by enrolling in graduate programs. The self-selection explanation has one property that other explanations don’t: it can explain why physical science academics might be liberal.

There is other research that makes the case that anti-conservative prejudice it at play. Haidt and his collaborators, for example, surveyed their own field of social psychology to show that many academics admit that would likely be prejudiced against conservative academics. Freese and Fosse conducted an experiment showing that graduate program directors were less likely to respond to students if they included conservative credentials in their emails.

To this literature, there is a new article in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy by James Phillips. Roughly speaking, Phillips gathers data on the publication histories of about one thousand law professors. Using voting registration, campaign donations, and other data, the author estimates the political orientation of each professor. The article has a lot of analysis in it, but he is trying to show that conservative professors have similar/better qualifications and publication records than liberals or unknowns. He finds that conservative professors, in many ways, have better qualifications (e.g., has a J.D.), publish more, and are more cited.

For those interested in academic politics, I suggest that they read the whole article. On a first read, at least, it seems thorough. So here are a few responses: (a) legal academia is very, very hierarchical and network driven. One of the results is that conservative legal academics clerk more, but for less prestigious courts. And one of the unwritten rules of the legal academy is that the best jobs go to those who clerk “higher.” That, by itself, could weed out a lot conservative law profs. So there may be plenty of conservatives getting clerking jobs, but if relatively few are in the appeal and Supreme courts, that by itself could wipe out entire generations of conservative law profs, even if hiring committees weren’t prejudiced.

(b) The higher rate of publication and citation could be due to two factors – survivor bias (only the “toughest” conservative profs survive, while lots of average liberal profs get jobs) or conservative profs might publish in different fields. For example, the publication rate and citation patterns in medical sociology is wildly different than in historical sociology. In law, I could imagine liberal profs publishing in less popular areas like Eskimo rights, while conservatives stick to criminal justice or taxation, which is way more popular. I would have to reread to see if this possibility is addressed.

(c) Self-selection can also play a big factor. If law students are similar to the overall population, then there would be a correlation between conservative beliefs and a desire for income. Thus, an average liberal legal academic is more likely to “settle” for lower paying law school jobs. In contrast, average conservative legal academics leave and only the best remain.

A number of outlets have jumped to the conclusion that this paper proved discrimination. It doesn’t. Rather, it thoroughly discredits an important hypothesis – that the low number of conservative profs reflect substandard work. When you read the detail, you see lots of different processes playing out in the data.

So thumbs up, let the debate continue.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street 

Written by fabiorojas

January 20, 2016 at 12:01 am

democracy is tougher than you think, wealthy ones at least

We often hear that democracy is under threat. But is that true? In 2005, Adam Przeworski wrote an article in Public Choice arguing that *wealthy* democracies are stable but poor ones are not. He starts with the following observation:

No democracy ever fell in a country with a per capita income higher than that of Argentina in 1975, $6055.1 This is a startling fact, given that throughout history about 70 democracies collapsed in poorer countries. In contrast, 35 democracies spent about 1000 years under more developed conditions and not one died.

Developed democracies survived wars, riots, scandals, economic and governmental crises, hell or high water. The probability that democracy survives increases monotonically in per capita income. Between 1951 and 1990, the probability that a democracy would die during any particular year in countries with per capita income under $1000 was 0.1636, which implies that their expected life was about 6 years. Between $1001 and 3000, this probability was 0.0561, for an expected duration of about 18 years. Between $3001 and 6055, the probability was 0.0216, which translates into about 46 years of expected life. And what happens above $6055 we already know: democracy lasts forever.


How does one explain this pattern? Przeworski describes a model where elites offer income redistribution plans, people vote, and the elites decide to keep or ditch democracy. The model has a simple feature when you write it out: the wealthier the society, the more pro-democracy equilibria you get.

If true, this model has profound implications of political theory and public policy:

  1. Economic growth is the bulwark of democracy. Thus, if we really want democracy, we should encourage economic growth.
  2. Armed conflict probably does not help democracy. Why? Wars tend to destroy economic value and make your country poorer and that increase anti-democracy movements (e.g., Syria and Iraq).
  3. A lot of people tell you that we should be afraid of outsiders because they will threaten democracy. Not true, at least for wealthy democracies.

This article should be a classic!

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street 

Written by fabiorojas

January 4, 2016 at 3:34 am

ermakoff book forum 2: of nazis and vichy

The purpose of Ruling Oneself Out is to understand when political groups, or coalitions, literally vote themselves out of power, often with disastrous consequences. Today, I’ll briefly describe the historical cases and tomorrow I’ll discuss the theory Ermakoff uses to explain things.

The first example is the Reichstag’s March 1933 vote to give Hitler broad power. Essentially, the Reichstag abolished democratic controls over the chancellor by giving the chancellor and the cabinet the ability to pass laws with the Reichstag’s approval. Most historians concur that this was the effective end of the Weimar state. It was replaced by a Nazi party state that dispensed with republican institutions.

What is crucial for Ermakoff is that the Nazis won because they had the backing of various Center and right parties, including some who were very suspicious of Hitler. Communists had been banned from the vote and only the Social Democrats voted no.

Ermakoff’s other case is the French government’s vote to give Petain power in 1940. The complete disaster of the French war effort completely destabilized French state, resulting in the withdrawal of the government from Paris, the resignation of the leadership, and the creation of German dominated Vichy France.

In reviewing these two events, Ermakoff wants to criticize a number of explanations offered for the surrender to Nazism. For example, it is often argued that coercion was the main explanatory factor. Non-Nazi parties were justifiably fearful of violence and relented. But Ermakoff notes that this is an incomplete explanation. First, there was actually a fair amount of resistance to Nazi violence. Second, the Center party, which went all in for Hitler, actually was internally split and many seemed able and willing to resist. In France, Ermakoff shows that voting for the Vichy State was not associated with being from an area that would be under German occupation, and thus subject to more violence. Similarly, Ermakoff closely examines the evidence for other theories of abdication, such as the hypothesis that Nazi ideology contaminated its opponents. Tomorrow, I’ll discuss Ermakoff’s alternative theory.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street

Written by fabiorojas

December 23, 2015 at 7:25 am


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