Monday, April 4, 2011

MPSA highlights

I posted earlier about the King, Orlando, and Sparks paper, but I wanted to recommend a few other interesting papers that caught my eye at last week's meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association in Chicago.

  • Jenna Bednar and Liz Gerber show that roughly a third of congressional campaign donations are made by people who live in the candidate's metropolitan area but not in that candidate's district. Food for thought about the whole idea of geographic representation.
  • John Sides and Henry Farrell (of Monkey Cage fame) had a nice paper demonstrating a "Kos Bump": when a candidate is mentioned on the DailyKos blog, that candidate sees a short term boost in fundraising. Mentions by Markos himself are particularly valuable. They haven't put the paper up on the web yet, but it's worth waiting for.
  • According to Sarah Poggione and Janna Deitz, female House members pay a greater electoral price than do male House members for being too liberal for their district. Interestingly, though, women who are too conservative for their district do not suffer for it at all at the polls, although men who are too conservative do. No wonder when Steve Greene and I were looking for examples of candidates who suffered for being too ideologically extreme, we came up with Jeannette Rankin, Marjorie Margolies Mezvinsky, and Hillary Clinton.
  • If you have 30 minutes to kill, just ask Justin Buchler and me to talk about the Tea Party. We have no shortage of opinions.
  • The service at Russian Tea Time was somewhat wanting this year, and they continue to water down the vodka flights. But the food is still good and I always have a great time there. Speaking of food, there should be a law preventing MPSA from convening until Miller's Pub has smelt on the menu. I need smelt.


Steve Greene said...

Hmmm. I did have 30 minutes to kill. Wish I had asked you about the tea party :-).

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

"Jenna Bednar and Liz Gerber show that roughly a third of congressional campaign donations are made by people who live in the candidate's metropolitan area but not in that candidate's district. Food for thought about the whole idea of geographic representation."

We are governed by Congress, not by our own particular member of Congress, except in the rare case when we need constituent services.

Why should our electoral efforts, other than voting, be addressed to our local race for any reason other than convenience? Efforts devoted to a swing seat in Congress has far more impact on my life than the seat in a safe Denver Congressional district.

Seth said...

It's a fair point, Andrew, although I'd say our political culture is oriented toward the concept of geographic representation. Think of all the candidates who get criticized for taking out-of-district or out-of-state money. And, to be fair, the Constitution really does set up a system of geographic representation in which our own representative is incentivized to build a relationship with us and not with people in other districts.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

When the Constitution was written there was no Internet, no e-mail, no telephones, no television, no radio, no telegraphs, no regulr train service, no commercial steamboats, no Erie canal, no national highway service, no air mail, and not even a Pony Express.

Regular national postal service, interstate postal roads and non-monopoly newspapers were considered pretty neat ideas at the time.

The Founders were worried that there wouldn't be enough of coherent national political community to build a consensus around any one Presidential candidate and figured that most races would end up being decided by Congress as a result.

Also, single member Congressional districts were not universal until much, much later, Senators weren't elected, and psychologically, at least, we were Confederation rather than a single nation-state, until about the time of the Civil War. Members of Congress have to be residents of their state but not their Congressional district.

While geographic representation is embedded in our political culture, the logic behind tht association isn't very strong.