Politics

Winning from the Center: Frank Bigelow and California's Nonpartisan Primary

Winning from the Center: Frank Bigelow and California's Nonpartisan Primary
California Journal of Politics and Policy, 7(1). 2015.

Sinclair, J. Andrew
02/11/2015

In 2012, California first used a nonpartisan “top-two” primary. Early academic studies of the effects statewide have produced mixed results on the key question: does the new law make it possible for more moderate candidates to win? This study focuses on one particular California State Assembly race, District 5, from 2012 to assess the operation of the new law in detail in one same-party runoff. Republicans Frank Bigelow and Rico Oller competed against each other in both rounds; Bigelow, the more moderate Republican, won the general election. This study uses the internal Bigelow campaign polling data (three surveys of 400 voters each) to assess the dynamics of the race, revealing not just voter attitudes towards the candidates but the reasons for Bigelow campaign choices. The results suggest that although little strategic behavior took place in the first round, voters, including Democrats, tended to support the spatially logical candidate in the general election – with the advantage to Bigelow, the candidate closer to the median voter of the district.

Government By the People, 2014 Elections and Updates Edition (25th Edition)

Government By the People, 2014 Elections and Updates Edition (25th Edition)
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2015.

Magleby, David B., Paul C. Light, and Christine L. Nemacheck
01/03/2015

Government by the People provides a thorough, Constitution-based introduction to the foundational principles, processes, and institutions of American government. Throughout, authors David Magleby, Paul Light, and Christine Nemacheck highlight the central role that people play in a constitutional democracy, inspiring students to see how similarities and differences in political beliefs continue to shape government to this day. The 2014 Elections and Updates Edition includes coverage of the major issues in today’s headlines to engage students in learning, as well as to boost the relevance of course material to students’ lives.

Decentralization in Uganda: Reforms, Reversals, and an Uncertain Future

Decentralization in Uganda: Reforms, Reversals, and an Uncertain Future
In Tyler Dickovich and James Wunsch, eds., Decentralization in Africa: A Comparative Perspective. (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2014).

Smoke, P., W. Muhumuza and E. Ssewankambo
07/25/2014

Uganda was long considered one of the most successful cases of public sector devolution in the developing world. The post-conflict national government began robust empowerment of local governments in the early 1990s. The drive for reform emerged largely from domestic political forces with little involvement of the external donor agencies that have often promoted decentralization in countries with similar development profiles. Two decades after this highly touted reform began, the system has severely deteriorated on almost every aspect by which decentralization is usually judged. This chapter documents the economic, political and social dynamics that led to the rise of decentralization and also laid the foundation for its decline. The chapter concludes by suggesting possible future scenarios for the intergovernmental system in Uganda and drawing potential lessons for other countries considering such bold reforms.

A Cascade of Failures: Why Government Fails, and How to Stop It

A Cascade of Failures: Why Government Fails, and How to Stop It
Brookings Institute, Center for Effective Public Management, Washington D.C., July 2014.

Light, Paul C.
07/14/2014

In this research paper, Paul C. Light writes that the “first step in preventing future failures is to find a reasonable set of past failures that might yield lessons for repair.” To meet this goal, Light asks four key questions about past federal government failures: (1) where did government fail, (2) why did government fail, (3) who caused the failures, and (4) what can be done to fix the underlying problems?

Can Democracy Survive Democracy

Can Democracy Survive Democracy
Public Administration Review Vol 74 Issue 4

David Elcott
06/04/2014

A review of Cornell W. Clayton and Richard Elgar, eds, Civility and Democracy in America: A Reasonable Understanding (Pullman, Washington: Washington State University Press, 2012).The focus is on the historical activist role of religion in policy formulation and implementation in the U.S. and the implications for present day faith communities' engagement in the public arena.

‘‘Do Something’’ Politics and Double-Peaked Policy Preferences

‘‘Do Something’’ Politics and Double-Peaked Policy Preferences
Journal of Politics 76(2): 333-349.

Egan, Patrick J.
04/09/2014

When a public problem is perceived to be poorly addressed by current policy, it is often the case that credible alternative policies are proposed to both the status quo’s left and right. Specially designed national surveys show that in circumstances like these, many Americans’ preferences are not single-peaked on the standard left-right dimension. Rather, they simply want the government to ‘‘do something’’ about the problem and therefore prefer both liberal and conservative policies to the moderate status quo. This produces individual and collective preferences that are double-peaked with respect to the left-right dimension. Double-peakedness is less prevalent on issues where no consensus exists regarding policy goals, and it increases when exogenous events raise the public’s concern about the seriousness of a policy problem.

Investigations Done Right and Wrong: Government by Investigation, 1945-2012

Investigations Done Right and Wrong: Government by Investigation, 1945-2012
Brookings Institution Press, 2013.

Light, Paul
12/03/2013

Surveying the 100 most significant Congressional and presidential investigations of executive branch breakdowns between 1945 and 2012, Paul Light offers insight into those qualities that compose an “investigation done right.” Light’s research provides data into the quantity and quality of investigatory efforts in the modern era, as well as what these patterns reveal about what investigators can do to increase the odds that their work will pay off in improved government performance and more effective public policy.

 

Public Policy Investment: Policy Prioritization and British Statecraft

Public Policy Investment: Policy Prioritization and British Statecraft
Oxford University Press 2013. ISBN 978-0-19-966397-2.

Anthony Bertelli and Peter C. John
11/28/2013

This book addresses one of the enduring questions of democratic government: why do governments choose some public policies but not others? Political executives focus on a range of policy issues, such as the economy, social policy, and foreign policy, but they shift their priorities over time. Despite an extensive literature, it has proven surprisingly hard to explain policy prioritisation. To remedy this gap, this book offers a new approach called public policy investment: governments enhance their chances of getting re-elected by managing a portfolio of public policies and paying attention to the risks involved. In this way, government is like an investor making choices about risk to yield returns on its investments of political capital. The public provides signals about expected political capital returns for government policies, or policy assets, that can be captured through expressed opinion in public polls. Governments can anticipate these signals in the choices they make. Statecraft is the ability political leaders have to consider risk and return in their policy portfolios and do so amidst uncertainty in the public's policy valuation. Such actions represent the public's views conditionally because not every opinion change is a price signal. It then outlines a quantitative method for measuring risk and return, applying it to the case of Britain between 1971 and 2000 and offers case studies illustrating statecraft by prime ministers, such as Edward Heath or Margaret Thatcher. The book challenges comparative scholars to apply public policy investment to countries that have separation of powers, multiparty government, and decentralization.

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