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Congressional Elections POLS 125: Political Parties & Elections “We would all like to vote for the best man but he is never a candidate.” — Frank McKinney.

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Presentation on theme: "Congressional Elections POLS 125: Political Parties & Elections “We would all like to vote for the best man but he is never a candidate.” — Frank McKinney."— Presentation transcript:

1 Congressional Elections POLS 125: Political Parties & Elections “We would all like to vote for the best man but he is never a candidate.” — Frank McKinney “Kin” Hubbard

2 People hate Congress.

3 Congress’ job approval rating is hovering around 15%. Congress’ job approval rating is hovering around 15%. Only 7% say they have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in Congress.” Only 7% say they have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in Congress.” Just 22% of people would describe Congress as at least “somewhat productive.” Just 22% of people would describe Congress as at least “somewhat productive.” About 7 in 10 Americans say they don’t want most members of Congress reelected. About 7 in 10 Americans say they don’t want most members of Congress reelected.

4 But most incumbents get re-elected. What gives?

5 In 2012, Congressional approval averaged 15 percent, the lowest in nearly four decades of Gallup polling. And yet, 90 percent of House Members and 91 percent of Senators who sought re-election won last November. The seeming paradox between the low regard with which people hold Congress and the high rate of re-election of incumbents is explained well by new data released by Gallup on Thursday that points to a simple reality: People hate Congress but (generally) like their Member of Congress.

6 The Electoral Connection  Getting elected  Achieving influence in Congress  Making good public policy Members of Congress are faced with three primary goals: “Specifically, I shall conjure up a vision of United States congressmen as single-minded seekers of reelection, see what kinds of activities and goals that implies, and then speculate about how congressmen so motivated are likely to go about building and sustaining legislative institutions and making policy” —David Mayhew, Congress: The Electoral Connection (1974)

7 History of Congressional Elections Throughout most of U.S. history, congressional elections were “party- centered.” Throughout most of U.S. history, congressional elections were “party- centered.” In the post-World War II era, campaigns have became increasingly “candidate-centered,” centered around images that are largely independent of party labels. In the post-World War II era, campaigns have became increasingly “candidate-centered,” centered around images that are largely independent of party labels.

8 Candidate-Centered Campaigns

9 The Candidate-Centered Campaign Separation of powers Separation of powers Bicameralism Bicameralism Federalism Federalism Primaries Primaries 1. THE INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK What factors have influenced the rise of the candidate-centered campaign? 2. POLITICAL CULTURE 3. CAMPAIGN TECHNOLOGY 4. POLITICAL CLIMATE

10 President House Senate /3 of the Senate is elected every two years by voters within each state The entire House is elected every two years by voters within each congressional district The president is elected every four years by the Electoral College Presidential election years draw in higher turnout. Midterm congressional elections have lower rates of voter turnout

11 Senate 1/3 of the Senate is elected every two years by voters within each state House The entire House is elected every two years by voters within each congressional district President The president is elected every four years by the Electoral College Holding elections in this way— using different timetables and different constituencies— separates the electoral fortunes of members of Congress from one another, and does little to encourage teamwork in campaigning

12 The institution of Congress supports the electoral needs of its members remarkably well… Incumbency provides visibility Incumbency provides visibility Congressional privileges (e.g., franking) allows members to advertise their issue positions back home Congressional privileges (e.g., franking) allows members to advertise their issue positions back home Political power is decentralized Political power is decentralized The seniority system ensures that the value of an incumbent appreciates over time The seniority system ensures that the value of an incumbent appreciates over time

13 The Candidate-Centered Campaign Separation of powers Separation of powers Bicameralism Bicameralism Federalism Federalism Primaries Primaries 1. THE INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK What factors have influenced the rise of the candidate-centered campaign? 2. POLITICAL CULTURE 3. CAMPAIGN TECHNOLOGY 4. POLITICAL CLIMATE

14 Who are these people? Peter Moss, Peace & Prosperity candidate for U.S. Senate in 2012 John MacGovern, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2012 Mark Donka, Republican candidate for U.S. House in 2012 Jane Newton, Liberty Union candidate for U.S. House in 2012 SANDERS WELCH

15 The Power of Incumbency PATRICK LEAHY (D) was first elected to the U.S. Senate in He is currently serving his 6th term. PATRICK LEAHY (D) was first elected to the U.S. Senate in He is currently serving his 6th term. BERNIE SANDERS (I) was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in He served in that office continuously until 2006, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate. BERNIE SANDERS (I) was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in He served in that office continuously until 2006, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate. PETER WELCH (D) was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in PETER WELCH (D) was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in The chance of unseating an incumbent member of Congress is slim. Most incumbents run for reelection and most of them win by substantial margins. Even in 1994, when an anti-incumbent mood hung in the air, 90% of incumbent House members, and 92% of incumbent Senators were returned to office. In Vermont,

16 Incumbent House and Senate Members Running for Reelection,

17 Reelection Rates of House and Senate Incumbents,

18 Incumbency Advantage Redistricting Redistricting Decline of party loyalty Decline of party loyalty Familiarity Familiarity Experience Experience Resources Resources Year Average Challenger Average Incumbent No. of Winning Challengers 1974$100,435$101, $144,720$154, $217,083$200, $343,093$286, $296,273$453, $518,781$463, $523,308$562, $703,740$876, $462,546$631, $433,482$840, $644,640$945, $1,070,162$1,040, $1,123,783$1,281, $2,024,725$2,511, $1,595,805$2,141, $1,616,513$2,003, $1,821,756$2,787, $1,971,197$2,354, $1,651,508$2,599,69553

19 Candidate-centered campaigns = Incumbent advantage CONSEQUENCES?

20 Confidence in American Institutions, 2011 Source: CNN/USA Today/ Gallup poll, June 9-11, "I am going to read you a list of institutions in American society. Please tell me how much confidence you, yourself, have in each one--a great deal, quite a lot, some, or very little?"

21 Congressional Approval, “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job?” Americans are far more favorable towards their own member of Congress

22 Some scholars claim that Congress rewards individual responsiveness over collective responsibility. Are stronger parties the answer?

23 Individual Responsiveness vs. Collective Responsibility Increasingly, we have seen the insulation of members of Congress from national political forces—which makes it harder and harder to unseat incumbents once they are elected into office. Increasingly, we have seen the insulation of members of Congress from national political forces—which makes it harder and harder to unseat incumbents once they are elected into office. Candidate-centered campaigns allow members to escape responsibility for Congress’ performance as an institution. Candidate-centered campaigns allow members to escape responsibility for Congress’ performance as an institution. As the electoral fates of Congress and the president diverge, so does their incentive to cooperate to get things done. As the electoral fates of Congress and the president diverge, so does their incentive to cooperate to get things done. The fragmentation of the legislative process and the committee system often leads to gridlock. The fragmentation of the legislative process and the committee system often leads to gridlock. In short, Congress often provides a kind of hyper-responsiveness to the public’s desires, but without true collective responsibility for their actions. What kind of political representation is produced by American electoral politics and how does that representation influence the laws Congress enacts?

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25 “That does not mean that you don’t have some real big differences. The House Republican majority is made up mostly of members who are in sharply gerrymandered districts that are very safely Republican and may not feel compelled to pay attention to broad-based public opinion, because what they’re really concerned about is the opinions of their specific constituents.” —President Barack Obama, talk about the politics of gun control in The New Republic Who’s to Blame for our Divisive Politics?

26 Incumbent House and Senate Members Running for Reelection,

27

28 Beginning in early 2001, a great tragedy occurred in American politics. It happened quietly, for the most part behind closed doors, and with minimal public input or oversight. The net result of this tragedy is that most voters had their cote rendered nearly meaningless, almost as if it had been stolen from them. Yet the stealing happened without faulty voting equipment, poorly designed ballots, misused voter lists, or campaign finance abuses. It was more like a silent burglar in the middle of the night having his way while American voters slept… And it was legal. Not only was it legal, but the two major political parties, their incumbents, and their consultants were participants in the heist. — Steven Hill, “Behind Closed Doors” (2002) An Incumbent Protection Plan

29 Reapportionment, as Defined by the U.S. Constitution ARTICLE 1, Section 2, Clause 3: Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative;

30 The Politics of Apportionment At first there was 1 member of the House of Representatives for every 30,000 American citizens. Today, with a current population of 300 million, that ratio has increased to about 1:690,000. At first there was 1 member of the House of Representatives for every 30,000 American citizens. Today, with a current population of 300 million, that ratio has increased to about 1:690,000. If we were to restore the original ratio between the House of Representatives and their constituents, it would require increasing the size of the chamber from 435 members (where it has been locked since 1911), to 10,000 members. If we were to restore the original ratio between the House of Representatives and their constituents, it would require increasing the size of the chamber from 435 members (where it has been locked since 1911), to 10,000 members. But remember, Article I of the U.S. Constitution says that “The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand,” which means there will not be more representatives than that, not that there will not be fewer. But remember, Article I of the U.S. Constitution says that “The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand,” which means there will not be more representatives than that, not that there will not be fewer. Has political representation been diluted by population growth?

31 Allocation of congressional districts in the House of Representatives after the 2010 census.

32 Electoral Map for 2012

33 ican-horrible-story---gerrymandering

34 The Original Gerrymander

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36 Cracking and Packing Redrawing the balanced electoral districts in this example creates a guaranteed 3-to-1 advantage in representation for the blue voters as 14 red voters are packed into the light green district and the remaining 18 are cracked across the 3 remaining blue districts. Source:

37 Maptitude® for Redistricting is a special edition of Caliper Corporation’s Maptitude GIS for Windows that includes everything you need to build and analyze redistricting plans. As you assign area features to a district, the district boundaries are redrawn and selected attributes are automatically summarized to reflect the district’s characteristics Redistricting Software

38 Majority-Minority Districts The unusual “earmuff” shape of the 4th Congressional District of Illinois connects two Hispanic neighborhoods while remaining continuous by narrowly tracing Interstate 294. Source: “My contribution to modern art!”

39 The Fight Over North Carolina’s 12 th Congressional District District lines have been redrawn several times in response to legal challenges. Gerrymandering based solely on race has been ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court under the Fourteenth Amendment, first by Shaw v. Reno (1993) and subsequently by Miller v. Johnson (1995). Partisan gerrymandering remains legal.

40 The Texas Redistricting Case Some argue that Lay’s plan strengthened the GOP majority in the House by as many as 5 seats.

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42 Does Redistricting Produce Uncompetitive Elections? Scholars argue that “there is little evidence that redistricting generally makes elections less competitive.” Scholars argue that “there is little evidence that redistricting generally makes elections less competitive.” Why? Because party leaders face a tension between incumbent protection on the one hand and the growth of the party’s majority on the other. Why? Because party leaders face a tension between incumbent protection on the one hand and the growth of the party’s majority on the other. In Texas, the GOP-controlled legislature shifted some Republican precincts out of the Tom DeLay’s district in order to make neighboring districts more Republican. As a result, DeLay’s own district is less assured. In Texas, the GOP-controlled legislature shifted some Republican precincts out of the Tom DeLay’s district in order to make neighboring districts more Republican. As a result, DeLay’s own district is less assured.

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44 november /daily-show-rock----mid-term- elections

45 Voters are apathetic, turnout is low Voters are apathetic, turnout is low A rigged and corrupt system ensures the reelection of incumbents A rigged and corrupt system ensures the reelection of incumbents Midterm elections don’t matter Midterm elections don’t matter

46 Losses by the President's Party in Midterm Elections,

47 Erikson’s Theories on Midterm Loss Midterm loss as regression to the mean Midterm loss as surge and decline Midterm loss as a referendum on presidential performance Midterm loss as a presidential penalty

48 Turnout in Presidential and Mid-Term Elections, %

49 Erikson’s Theories on Midterm Loss Midterm loss as regression to the mean Midterm loss as surge and decline Midterm loss as a referendum on presidential performance Midterm loss as a presidential penalty

50 Tufte Model

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52 Erikson’s Theories on Midterm Loss Midterm loss as regression to the mean Midterm loss as surge and decline Midterm loss as a referendum on presidential performance Midterm loss as a presidential penalty

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54 Can the Democrats Win? Get women to the polls (Ellen Malcolm, president of EMILY’s list) Get women to the polls (Ellen Malcolm, president of EMILY’s list) If Republicans want to make national security the fulcrum of the debate, say “Bring it on” (Rahm Emanuel) If Republicans want to make national security the fulcrum of the debate, say “Bring it on” (Rahm Emanuel) Competence sells. Tell the truth: the war in bad, the Republicans are incompetent and uncaring (Howard Dean) Competence sells. Tell the truth: the war in bad, the Republicans are incompetent and uncaring (Howard Dean) Run on the economy and Iraq. We want this battle (Stanley B. Greenberg) Run on the economy and Iraq. We want this battle (Stanley B. Greenberg) Take risks. Avoid a “we’re not as bad as they are” campaign (Joe Trippi) Take risks. Avoid a “we’re not as bad as they are” campaign (Joe Trippi)

55 Confidence in American Institutions, 2011 Source: CNN/USA Today/ Gallup poll, June 9-11, "I am going to read you a list of institutions in American society. Please tell me how much confidence you, yourself, have in each one--a great deal, quite a lot, some, or very little?"

56 Congressional Approval, “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job?” Americans are far more favorable towards their own member of Congress

57 Campaigning Governing

58 The Impact of Campaigning on Governing “Contemporary campaigning has made contemporary government more difficult. Campaigns raise public expectations about government at the same time that they lower trust and confidence in government. They emphasize personal accomplishments in a system designed to curb the exercise of institutional and political power. They harden policy positions in a government system that depends on compromise. They have increasingly brought partisan and ideological rhetoric into the policy-making arena where a pragmatic approach and quiet diplomacy used to get things done. And the candidates have developed a public persona that they continue to pursue once in office, a persona that can get in the way of behind-the-scenes compromises on major issues with which they have been associated.” —Stephen J. Wayne, Is This Any Way to Run a Democratic Election? (2001)

59 Identifying Problems Low public esteem for the institution of Congress Low public esteem for the institution of Congress Uncompetitive elections that favor incumbents Uncompetitive elections that favor incumbents Highly parochial, individualized, and fragmented politics Highly parochial, individualized, and fragmented politics Pressure exerted through campaign contributions Pressure exerted through campaign contributions Frequent elections lead to permanent campaigns Frequent elections lead to permanent campaigns Campaigns focus on style over substance Campaigns focus on style over substance Prioritize elections over public policy Prioritize elections over public policy Poor representation (e.g., lack minority candidates, etc.) Poor representation (e.g., lack minority candidates, etc.) Incumbency advantage leads to long congressional careers Incumbency advantage leads to long congressional careers Partisan wars over redistricting Partisan wars over redistricting Policy gridlock Policy gridlock Limited ability to punish/reward the institution as a whole Limited ability to punish/reward the institution as a whole

60 Finding Solutions Replace partisan redistricting with non-partisan commissions Replace partisan redistricting with non-partisan commissions Enact term limits Enact term limits Adopt longer terms in sync with presidential elections Adopt longer terms in sync with presidential elections Increase the size of the U.S. House of Representatives Increase the size of the U.S. House of Representatives Use proportional representation Use proportional representation Provide public financing of congressional campaigns Provide public financing of congressional campaigns Encourage stronger parties that impose discipline and unity Encourage stronger parties that impose discipline and unity

61 Questions… Are these solutions likely to address the root cause(s) of the problem? Are these solutions likely to address the root cause(s) of the problem? What are the obstacles to effective reform? What are the obstacles to effective reform?

62 Rotation in Office Washington, D.C. in the 19 th century was described as a “swampy, mosquito-infested, rural outpost.”

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64 The Term Limits Amendment Section A. No person shall serve in the office of U.S. Representative for more than three terms, but upon ratification of the Term Limits Amendment no person who has held the office of U.S. Representative or who then holds the office shall serve for more than two additional terms. Section A. No person shall serve in the office of U.S. Representative for more than three terms, but upon ratification of the Term Limits Amendment no person who has held the office of U.S. Representative or who then holds the office shall serve for more than two additional terms. Section B. No person shall serve in the office of U.S. Senator for more than two terms, but upon ratification of the Term Limits Amendment no person who has held the office of U.S. Senator or who then holds the office shall serve more than one additional term. Section B. No person shall serve in the office of U.S. Senator for more than two terms, but upon ratification of the Term Limits Amendment no person who has held the office of U.S. Senator or who then holds the office shall serve more than one additional term. Section C. This article shall have no time limit within which it must be ratified by the legislatures of three- fourths of the several States. Section C. This article shall have no time limit within which it must be ratified by the legislatures of three- fourths of the several States.

65 “Thereafter, within the first 100 days of the 104th Congress, we shall bring to the House Floor the following bills, each to be given full and open debate, each to be given a clear and fair vote and each to be immediately available this day for public inspection and scrutiny: …10. THE CITIZEN LEGISLATURE ACT: A first- ever vote on term limits to replace career politicians with citizen legislators.”

66 RespondentsYesNo Total sample61%21% By party Republican6428 Republican6428 Democrat6030 Democrat6030 Independent5833 Independent5833 By ideology Liberal 5834 Liberal 5834 Moderate6430 Moderate6430 Conservative 6329 Conservative 6329 By race White 6131 White 6131 Black6127 Black6127 By gender Men5735 Men5735 Women6327 Women6327 “Do you think there should be a limit to the number of times a member of the House of Representatives can be elected to a two- year term?” Public Opinion on Term Limits

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69 The Citizen-Legislator Joe the Plumber

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71 More Representative is Not Necessarily Better “If these reforms were put into place, would the public suddenly love Congress? We do not think so. Certain reforms, such as campaign finance reform, may help, since they would diminish the perception that money rules politics in Washington. But the main reason the public is disgruntled with Congress and with politics in Washington is because they are dissatisfied with the processes intrinsic to the operation of a democratic political system - debates, compromises, conflicting information, inefficiency, and slowness. This argument may seem odd on its face, so in the next few paragraphs we provide our interpretation of why the public questions the need for democratic processes.”


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