Day 9 - Profile of Voters in Congressional Elections
DAY 9 – WHO VOTES?
July 10, 2013
“I’d rather wrestle a gorilla than ask anybody for fifty cents.”
Senator John Glenn (D - Ohio)
Sources of Congressional candidate funds:
1) Individual contributors
$2,400 per candidate
$45,600 per election
3) Party Committees
4) Personal Funds
Incumbents always do better. Why?
House incumbents outspent challengers six times over in 2010.
Senate incumbents outspent 11 times over in 2010.
2012 Spending in PA Races
Can you buy votes?
Spending is positively correlated with electoral
Spending negatively correlated with electoral
Spending matters less later in campaign
Positive vs. Negative ads – what are the tradeoffs?
Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) of 2002
Requires candidates personally appear with their advertisements.
Evolving mass media
“Word of mouth on steroids.”
The Ground War
“Pressing the flesh.”
Get out the vote (GOTV) drives
Outside players – Freedom Watch – “Dina Titus must be from TaxUs”
Citizens United v. FEC - Corporate spending
Sources of Donations in 2012
Using voter information from the internet to more
efficiently target voters.
The Obama Campaign’s use of data to target
“Inside the Secret World of the Data Crunchers Who
Helped Obama Win”
Translating Obama’s success on a smaller level.
“Honey I Shrunk the Obama Data Machine”
Reasons for Not Voting
National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (Motor Voter law)
Absentee ballots, several elections, etc.
Biased or careless election administration
“Congestion at the Polls: A Study of Florida Precincts in the 2012
General Election” Michael C. Herron and Daniel A. Smith
Voter ID Requirements
Biases of Voting
The 1% of the 1%
How Voters Decide
Explains 90% of vote choice among registered
Democrats and Republicans
True independents versus closet partisans
Examples of strong versus weak party ties
Driven largely by partisan shifts in the South (p.91)
Changing Voter Distributions by
Figure 4-2 in
Why do less
Changing Makeup of Voters
Turnout in the
How might an older group of voters during Midterms
affect election results?
Surge and Decline Theory
From Bafumi, Erikson, Wlezien
(2010) “Balancing, Generic Polls,
and Midterm Congressional
Elections” Journal of Politics 72(3)
Ballot Initiatives and Electoral
“Tell your friends: We lost because of timing,
not lack of public support.”
Scott Morgan – CA Proposition 19 Advocate
(Legalization of Marijuana)
Conventional wisdom states that more
conservative voters participate in midterm
This should have an even greater effect on
direct initiatives – where voters decide on
What policies might be particularly affected byFollowing slides are from Hannah, Lee. 2013 “Ballot Initiatives and Electoral
Timing”, Unpublished. Parts of paper presented at 2011 and 2012 State
Politics and Policy Conference.
Morality Policy and Direct
Morality Policy by Category (N=254)
Does the timing of an election systematically
affect the results of ballot initiative campaigns?
Do the demographic differences in the electorate
between midterm and presidential elections affect
Why yes? Why no?
Do certain candidates provide favorable conditions, or
surges, for initiative campaigns?
Do popular liberal candidates affect the chances of a liberal
outcome on an initiative?
Do popular conservative candidates affect the chances of a
conservative outcome on an initiative.
In short, do popular presidential candidates provide a coat-
Defining Surge Elections
Type of Election Election
Margin of Victory Notes
1980 9.7 – Reagan (50.7); Carter (41.0)
1984 18.2 – Reagan (58.8); Mondale
1988 8.5 – Bush (53.4); Dukakis (45.6)
1996 8.5 – Clinton (49.2); Dole (40.7)
2008 7.2 – Obama (52.9); McCain (45.7)
1968-1976 --- *Candidates do not take unique stances on
1992 5.6 – Clinton (43.0); Bush (37.4) *Candidacy of Ross Perot complicates
Democratic surge arguments.
2000 -.6 – Bush (47.9-); Gore (48.5) *This margin is too close to be considered a
2004 2.4 – Bush (50.7); Kerry (48.3) *This margin is too close to be considered a
Model & Analysis
Dependent Variable - % Conservative Vote on
Initiative Category Conservative
MI – Proposal 08-02 (2008) – Removes some
restrictions from embryonic stem cell research
Morality No (0) 52.6 100-52.6 = 47.4
AZ – Prop 202 (1998) – Allow federal office
candidates to declare position on abolition of
income tax and IRS, and have that appear on
Tax Yes (1) 45 45
Model – Logistic Regression
Midterm Election +
Special Election +
Gubernatorial Election -
Democratic Surge Election -
Republican Surge Election +
Dependent Variable: Conservative Outcome (1)
1- Full Model (254)
2- Model Excluding
3 - Model only Gaming
Liberal Effects Conservative Effects
State-level demographics have little effect on the odds of a
Timing matters (Model 2):
Odds of a conservative outcome is 1 to 4 in Democratic surge
Nearly 5 to 1 in Republican surge elections.
Interestingly, odds of a conservative outcome in gaming policy
decreases to nearly 1 to 10 in Republican surge elections.
Results are robust for:
Political culture (Elazar 1972).
Fixed-effects model controlling for states.
It is unlikely that the initiative process could be
manipulated in regards to timing.
Conservative outcomes are no more likely in midterm
elections and might even be less likely.
Model 1 may reflect a Republican backlash in midterms.
Results possibly due to increased initiative awareness in
midterms (Smith 2001), the ability of morality policy
initiatives to increase turnout and interest (Nicholson
2003), or the increased mobilization potential of initiative
campaigns during midterms (Donovan et al. 2009).
Results suggest that initiative campaigns benefit from the
coattails of popular presidential candidates.