Political Science-American Politics
In many systems, legislators find themselves accountable to multiple principals. This article seeks to further answer how legislators decide between their principals and what factors condition legislators to choose one over the other. We argue that electoral uncertainty, operationalized as electoral volatility, pushes legislators towards the principal that has the greatest influence over their re-election. Using European Parliament electoral results and roll-call data from the second to the sixth European Parliaments (1984–2009), we show that increases in electoral volatility decreased European group cohesion and pushed legislators to side more with the positions of their national parties over their European group when the two disagreed.
This article investigates whether exposure to extreme television media informs citizens about politics. Using lab experiments with both student and non-student samples, I find that extreme media produce higher levels of political knowledge and that they also produce higher levels of negative affect among viewers compared with control groups. I also show that extreme media are at least as informative as traditional news. This research adds to the growing literature on media effects in a polarized media environment, showing that extreme television media can have a beneficial impact on at least one important area of U.S. politics: citizen competence. To account for external validity and popular conceptions on extreme media’s non-informative nature, I use cross-sectional data from the 2008 National Annenberg Election Survey finding that extreme television viewership correlates with greater political knowledge, while controlling for other known predictors.
The first debate in 2008 was a turning point in the presidential election campaign: a race that was close before the debate turned decisively in Obama’s favor following it. This article explores how the media reached their verdict that "Obama won." We examine two aspects of this problem: how, in practice, the media reached this verdict and whether they made the right decision from a normative standpoint. Based on content analysis of debate transcripts, we argue that the media interpreted the debate by synthesizing three pre-debate narratives in roughly equal proportions. Crucially, two of these narratives favored Obama. We also find that the "Obama won" verdict was consistent with what we might expect had the debate been judged by a public-spirited umpire.
This study examines whether broadcast news reduces negativity toward political leaders by exposing partisans to opposing viewpoints. For analysis, both exposure to broadcast news and variation in media content are used to predict changes in feelings toward the candidates during the 2008 presidential election. The results suggest that increased exposure to broadcast news increased partisans’ favorability toward the out-party candidate. In addition, increased coverage of the candidates was followed by increased favorability among members of the opposing party. These results demonstrate the benefits of exposure to two-sided communications flows for the reduction of animosity between the political parties. Moreover, these results suggest that public negativity toward political leaders might be even worse if not for the large amount of overlap between the audiences for partisan and mainstream news outlets.
Fade to Black? Exploring Policy Enactment and Termination Through the Rise and Fall of State Tax Incentives for the Motion Picture Industry
Policy termination has received less scholarly attention than policy diffusion, and empirical state-level studies that examine the rise and fall of the same policy are mostly absent from the literature. This study assesses the factors that led more than 45 states to enact and some to later repeal Motion Picture Incentive programs, a collection of tax incentives aimed at facilitating job creation and economic diversification. We find program enactments were driven by rising unemployment and national but not bordering state imitation. Falling unemployment and national trends drove subsequent terminations, but in many states, their impact was overwhelmed by the influence of incentive spending, which greatly reduced termination likelihood. These results not only shed light on policy enactments and terminations in general, but also inform scholarship on state tax incentives and the role of competitive factors in their creation and repeal—or lack thereof.
Can ostensibly nonpolitical television programming affect policy opinions? In this article, I use a laboratory experiment to test whether the gender norms portrayed on two primetime sitcoms can alter political attitudes on gender issues, specifically access to abortion, and contraception. Though the shows in the experiment did not explicitly discuss any policy, I find that sitcoms can influence policy opinions, particularly when the show conveys a "boys will be boys" mentality toward sexual behavior. This finding has important implications for public opinion scholars because it suggests that there may not be such a thing as apolitical programming, and pop culture may have a profound, overlooked effect on public opinion.
The current research assessed whether political satire viewing could indirectly promote interpersonal talk about politics by eliciting emotions. The theoretical model was tested utilizing both experimental and survey designs. The findings indicated good agreement, demonstrating that negative emotions significantly mediate and reinforce the effect of political satire viewing on interpersonal talk. Conversely, the process wherein traditional news sources motivate interpersonal talk is mostly direct, with little development of affective responses. The results suggest that political satire can help to paint a sanguine picture of a healthy deliberative democracy mainly through an affective rather than cognitive route.