2015 Posters

The 2015 posters are available by clicking the title of each poster:

Pamela Ban, Daniel J. Moskowitz, and James M. Snyder, Jr. PACking in the Dollars: Using PAC Contributions to Track Conditional Party Government.

Peter Bucchianeri. Violent Crime Trends and the Formation of Public Attitudes About Gun Control.
Abstract: Over the past two decades, trends in crime and gun violence have changed dramatically. After peaking in the early 1990s, the overall violent crime rate has fallen precipitously, and yet, since 2000, the frequency and scale of incidents of mass gun violence have been steadily on the rise. How have these changes in the nature and frequency of violent crime influenced public attitudes about gun policy? To answer this question, I use a bayesian multilevel regression model with poststratification (MRP) to estimate the percent of the population in each state that supports stricter gun control laws over a period of 25 years. Results from the model yield novel evidence about changes in opinion across demographic groups and suggest that state-level crime trends are not significantly related to changes in opinion over this time period.

Leslie Finger. Rethinking the Iron Triangle: The Role of Organized Interests in the Making of Teacher Evaluation Policy.

Alexander Hertel-Fernandez. Office Politics: When Do Employers Recruit their Workers into Politics?
Abstract: American employers now have the legal right to recruit their workers into partisan politics and to fire or discipline employees who refuse to participate. How many employees experience such political recruitment, and when do firms decide to engage in this practice? Drawing on original national surveys of top corporate managers and workers, I first characterize the landscape of employer political recruitment of employees. One in four workers reported receiving political messages from their managers, and about half of surveyed firms reported engaging in political recruitment. Firm managers perceived recruitment to be a highly effective means of changing public policy, ranking it as being even more effective than making political contributions to candidates or buying political advertisements. I next test theories about when firms engage their workers in politics. I further explore this question with in-depth interviews with corporate managers. The strongest predictors of employer political recruitment center on bargaining power between firms and workers, firms' regulatory exposure, and the extent to which firms are involved in other political activities. My findings suggest that political mobilization is an important feature of the American workplace, as well as a crucial strategy companies use to change public policy.

Aaron R. Kaufman. Predicting Supreme Court Votes Using Text Networks.
Abstract: How do oral argument transcripts help us predict how Supreme Court Justices will vote? Using networks of justice speaking during oral arguments, we test hypotheses of lobbying, position-taking, and attacking, and find that Justices primarily use oral argument time to stake out ideological positions.

Boram Lee. Legalization for Survival: Third Party Participation in WTO disputes and Bureaucrats in Left-leaning Governments.
Abstract: Who legalizes international trade? What explicates WTO member countries' choices to participate in trade disputes as third parties? Under what conditions do they submit opinions unfavorable to the most powerful member state to defend domestic trade interests despite potential retaliation? This paper investigates incentives of bureaucrats in legalizing international trade through third party participation in WTO disputes in which the US is respondent. With an original dataset on the frequency of WTO member states' third party participation and content-analysis of their third party opinions, I find that left-leaning governments are more active participants in US-related disputes and vocal dissenters of US trade protection policies in the WTO as third parties. Contrastingly, I do not find the same effect of partisanship on initiation of trade disputes. The underlying mechanism is two-fold. Firstly, trade officials attempt to participate more in WTO disputes as it enhances their prospects of organizational survival within a protectionist government. Free trade-oriented trade officials working with protectionist left politicians have incentives to legalize trade issue to gain discretion from the latter by technicalizing the issue area. Second, trade officials in a leftist government tend to submit third party opinions in defense of domestic exporters in consideration of rents. Absence of alliance between leftist politicians and exporters allows bureaucrats to sell their service at higher prices to exporters. The same mechanism is absent in initiation of trade disputes in that high public attention prevents bureaucrats from exploiting principal-agent slack.

Soumyajit MazumderPrecedential Power: The Role of the United States in Shaping International Law at the WTO.

Michael Morse. Discretionary Disenfranchisement: The Case of Legal Financial Obligations.  
Abstract: We examine the political consequences of conditioning ex-felon voting rights on the payment of legal financial obligations (LFOs). We study two states -- Alabama and Tennessee -- in which ex-felons cannot restore their voting rights until they have paid all court fees, fines, and restitution, plus child support in Tennessee. By randomly sampling court records of convicted felons in Alabama from 2005 - 2011, we estimate that the median amount of LFOs accrued is about $5,000 and that 85% have a non-zero balance. We expect that existing economic racial disparities will disproportionately reduce black ex-felons' ability to restore their right to vote. Consistent with this, we find that blacks are about 10 percentage points (p.p.) more likely to have a non-zero LFO balance in Alabama. Blacks are also about 16 and 12 p.p. more likely to have their voting rights applications denied due to LFOs in Alabama and Tennessee, respectively.

Daniel J. Moskowitz. On the Validity of Donut Regression Discontinuity Designs for Estimating Electoral Effects.
Abstract: Recent research has cast doubt on the validity of regression discontinuity (RD) design estimates for electoral effects in the post-World War II U.S. House of Representatives (Caughey and Sekhon 2011; Grimmer et al. 2012; Snyder 2005). One potential remedy to correct for the "chance" covariate imbalance in the post-war House is the "donut" RD in which observations closest to the threshold for which sorting might occur are omitted from the analysis. However, prior to this project, researchers have not tested the validity of this method in electoral settings. Using data from Eggers et al. (2014) for 17 different electoral settings in 10 different countries for which valid RD estimates of incumbency advantage exist, this paper provides the first comprehensive evaluation of the donut RD for estimating electoral effects.

Soledad Prillaman. The Ties that Bind: Evaluating the link between gender attitudes and political participation in rural India.
Abstract: In India, women remain considerably underrepresented in positions of elected office and in the bureaucracy, women vote and rally at lower rates, and women make fewer demands on government than men. Alongside low levels of female political participation are striking social norms that politics is the man's space. While studies of political engagement highlight mechanisms through which women can overcome the structural constraints to political participation in political institutions, social barriers in the household often persist even after they are removed from the community. Strikingly, women report that it is easier to actively engage in community institutions once they have a network of supporters than it is to change decision-making dynamics in the household. As a result, many women continue to be constrained in their daily political lives even if they are active participants in local politics. This project evaluates the link between social norms and gender attitudes to women's political participation by first estimating both men and women's explicit and implicit attitudes and gender biases through Implicit Association Tests (IATs) and then linking these to stated levels of political engagement both in the household and in the community. In doing so, this project identifies the link between household gender dynamics and women's political voice and activity.

Julie Anne Weaver. How Does Citizen Trust in Local Government Change? Exploiting Exogenous Shocks to Peruvian Mayors' Budgets.
Abstract: Much research on political accountability in the developing world takes as a starting point citizens' attitudes towards their government, but little empirical work has been able to tease out exactly how those attitudes form. This paper takes advantage of an exogenous shock in extractive industry commodity prices combined with a particular approach to budgeting in Peru to asses how citizen trust of local government is affected by public spending through a huge increase in the budget transfer received from the central government from one year to the next. Extractive industries taxes and royalties are collected by Peru's central government then distributed out to local municipal governments. Because of the distribution rules, municipalities that are not extractive industries producers still get a huge bump by virtue of being located in a region with extractive industries production. Using a difference-in-differences approach coupled with matching, the paper surprisingly finds that in municipalities that received a more than 150% increase in their budget from 2006 to 2007, citizens report no difference in trust compared to matched districts that did not receive the budget surplus. The paper concludes with hypotheses for the null result and proposes mediation analysis to assess the causal mechanism that might explain - or alter - the null finding.