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CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS “Rules of the Game” DRAWING OF HOUSE DISTRICTS --Process for allocating each state its share of House seats --Effects of fixing.

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Presentation on theme: "CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS “Rules of the Game” DRAWING OF HOUSE DISTRICTS --Process for allocating each state its share of House seats --Effects of fixing."— Presentation transcript:

1 CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS “Rules of the Game” DRAWING OF HOUSE DISTRICTS --Process for allocating each state its share of House seats --Effects of fixing the size of the House at 435

2 CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS “Rules of the Game” District-drawing process within the states --Initial judicial reluctance to interfere --Relevant Constitutional provisions --Baker v. Carr, Wesberry v. Sanders, and the “Reapportionment Revolution”

3 CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS “Rules of the Game” GERRYMANDERING ---Partisan gerrymandering: “cracking and packing,” “wasting votes,” “trading security for seats” --Is partisan gerrymandering legal? What about midterm gerrymandering? --Why partisan gerrymandering is less common/effective than people think

4 CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS “Rules of the Game” RACIAL GERRYMANDERING Voting Rights Act Bolden v. City of Mobile Voting Rights Act Amdendments Thornburg v. Gingles --Dramatic 1990 Redistricting (from 25 Afr.-Amer./10 Hispan.Reps in 1992 to 38 and 17 in 1993)

5 CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS “Rules of the Game” RACIAL REDISTRICTING CONT’d --Shaw v. Reno (1993) NC --Miller v. Johnson (1995) GA Reasons for Controversy --related to Affirmative Action --MMDs help GOP? --is votitng always racially polarized?

6 CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS “Rules of the Game” EFFECTS OF DISTRICT-DRAWING PROCESS ON HOUSE ELECTIONS IN GENERAL 1.) Unnatural districts may aid incumbents? 2.) Minimizes role of television in some House races due to bad fit between media markets and districts 3.) Local party orgs more interested in city, county, state races

7 CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS “Rules of the Game” CAMPAIGN FINANCE No real meaningful reform until 1970s Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and Amendments 1.) Disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures 2.) Disclosure of “independent spending” on candidates’ behalf 3.) $1000 limit on individual contribution to campaign 4.) PACs legalized (explain how they originated), limited to $5K contributions 5.) Party contributions: higher limits, “coordinated expenditures” 6.)***Attempts to limit overall spending by a campaign, self-contributions, and independent expenditures

8 CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS “Rules of the Game” Buckley v. Valeo (1976) struck down *** overall spending limits ind. Spending limits, and self- contributions (explain why) 1980s (“Old School”) proposed campaign finance reforms: outlawing PACs, partial Fed. Funding of campaigns coupled with spending limits

9 CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS “Rules of the Game” 1990s-2000s proposed reforms, sparked by A.) Republican takeover of Congress in 1994 B.) Turnover meant less concern about incumbency advantages C.) New (or newly discovered) loopholes in FECA In mid1990s ---unlimited raising and spending of “soft money” by parties ---”independent spending” that wasn’t really independent’ ---”issue advocacy” campaign advertising that avoided limits/regulation by avoiding use of “magic words”

10 CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS: “Rules of the Game” Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA, a.k.a. “McCain-Feingold” bill); finally passed in 2002 after many attempts 1.) Raised indiv contribution limit to $ ) Banned raising and spending of soft money by national parties, and by state parties for Fed. Candidates 3.) Authorized FEC to tighten restrictions on independent spending 4.) Brought “electioneering” (i.e., issue advocacy) communications under FEC regulation (define “electioneering”) ---unlimited, but could only be done by PACs, not by corporations or labor unions themselves ---electioneerers had to disclose contributors

11 CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS: The Incumbency Advantage High re-election rates, especially for House members (why is Senate re- election rate lower?) Esp. since late 1960s: incumbents winning by larger margins “vanishing marginals” Measures of incumbency PERSONAL advantage---sophomore surge, retirement slump---on the rise

12 Rules of the Game: Finale SUPREME COURT action on BCRA McConnell vs. FEC: act as a whole facially valid FEC v. Wisconsin RTL: ban on corporate $ invalid as applied in this case Davis v. FEC: millionaires amdt. invalid Citizens United v. FEC: ban on corporate $ invalid, totally

13 CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS: The Incumbency Advantage EXPLANATIONS FOR INCREASE IN INCUMBENCY ADVANTAGE 1.) Not 1960s redistricting (although 1990s and 2000s may have mattered) 2.) Increase in “independent” (nonpartisan voters)---but that’s not entirely it either 3.) Mayhew “Congress: the Electoral Connection” 1974 a.) Advertising b.) Credit-claiming (includes both non-legislative “casework” and “pork barrel legislation” c.) Position-taking on issues of concern to the district (In all of these activities, Congressional resources---i.e., personal and committee staff, exposure on C-SPAN, franking privilege of free mailing to the districts, more paid trips home---increasingly and aggressively used to promote re-election)

14 CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS: The Incumbency Advantage EXPLANATIONS FOR INCREASE IN INCUMBENCY ADVANTAGE CONT’D Morris Fiorina, “Congress: Keystone of the Washington Establishment” (1977), emphasized casework, argued that Congress deliberately keeps the bureaucracy big and confusing so they can “rescue” constituents Even though few ever ask their member of Congress for help, the few that are helped spread the word; most members acquire a general reptuation for helpfulness

15 CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS: The Incumbency Advantage INCUMBENTS’ FINANCIAL ADVANTAGE --Corporate and trade association PACs (biggest and wealthiest) tend to favor incumbents and the majority party --Only labor unions and ideological (nonconnected) PACs are willing to help challengers THE SCARE-OFF EFFECT Possibly the biggest consequence of incumbents’ activities and fundraising is to scare off qualified potential opponents “Strategic” candidates only run when they believe they can win; if incumbents look unbeatable, only unqualified opponents will run Paradoxically, the strongest incumbents end up facing the weakest opposition Paradoxically, even though they find it easier to raise money, spending doesn’t appear to help incumbents that much (‘cuz incumbents get so much free publicity); pre-emptive vs. reactive spending may have different effects

16 CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS: are they local or national affairs? --Long-time trradition of “coattails” and midterm losses for president’s party --Since 1980, most presidents have lacked coattails, and in 1998 and 2002 midterms presidents gained seats --Size of presidents’ party gains and losses seems to reflect presidential approval and ups and downs in the economy; but do voters really consider these national factors when voting for Congress?

17 CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS: Local or National Affairs? Jacobson and Kernell’s “Strategic Politicians Theory” tried to explain how cong. Elections could be both national and local Candidates, potential candidates, and contributors all make decisions in response to national factors (presidential approval, economy, war, etc.) National factors influence the quality of candidates voters get to choose from, and voters respond primarily to candidate quality So voters don’t have to be consciously thinking of national factors in order for those factors to have an effect; what influences cong. Elections most is national factors EARLY in the year (when elites are making decisions) rather than in November Some argue that in elections like 1994 and 1998 (Clinton impeachment) voters DO payattention to national factors) e.g. commercials featuring local candidates “morphing” into Clinton or Gingrich


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