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American Politics

Katharine S. Javian (http://sites.temple.edu/ksjavian/)

Dissertation: Party Voting in the American States:  How National Factors and Institutional Variation Affect State Elections.

My dissertation examines two related questions: first, how do national-level conditions influence state legislative and gubernatorial elections?  Second, how does state-level institutional variation mediate how state elections are influenced by those national factors?   I approach the first question by testing existing theories, specifically, I examine the effect of presidential coattails, surge and decline theory, referendum voting theory and vertical policy balancing theory.  Using multilevel modeling, I analyze gubernatorial elections from 1948-2010 and state legislative elections from 1968-2010. I find evidence for surge and decline, referendum voting, and vertical balancing in both gubernatorial and state legislative elections.

Next, I turn to the question of whether state institutional variation mediates how national forces influence state elections.  I find that formal institutional power and the size of state government do not systematically affect state election outcomes.  However, I show that coattail effects and referendum voting are lessened in states with the direct initiative and that vertical balancing is increased.  This dissertation adds to our understanding of elections in the American states as well as the American electoral process in general.

Committee: Christopher Wlezien (Chair),  Kevin Arceneaux, Megan Mullin, Department of Political Science, Matthew Levendusky (University of Pennsylvania)

Daniel G. Lehman

Dissertation: Local Party Organizations and the Mobilization of Latino Voters

My dissertation addresses several interrelated questions concerning the place of Latinos in American politics and the health of democracy in the United States. Political parties are meant to link citizens to the state.  However, parties often fear that reaching out to certain groups may alienate the concerns of some core voters, providing a disincentive to political parties to prioritize Latino outreach.  Here, I ask, to what degree are local political parties involved in mobilizing Latino voters as compared to other voting groups? Interest groups have much narrower constituencies than political parties by definition, but their purpose may not be exclusively, or even primarily, electoral.  So, what role do interest groups and community organizations play in getting Latinos to vote? To answer these questions, I use several methods to gather data. First, I conducted a mail survey of county political party chairs concerning Latino mobilization in the 2008 Presidential race. Second, I conducted a qualitative case study to understand how this mobilization operates in practice. I explored strategies taken by several interest groups and community organization leaders in Nevada during the 2010 midterm elections to detail how those groups attempt to reach and mobilize Latinos, and the possible position political parties may fill in Latino communities where interest groups have become important politically in mobilizing voters, and vice versa.

Committee: Robin Kolodny (Chair), Sandra Suarez, Michael Hagen, Rosario Espinal (Outside Reader)

Joshua J. Weikert

Dissertation: Balancing Act: How an Unbalanced Media Affects the Electorate

Is there balance in media coverage of presidential election campaigns? While the literature supports the notion that it is, in the aggregate and across time, lacking systematic imbalance and bias (D’Alessio and Allen 2000), previous studies generally do not consider intra-campaign shifts in the composition of coverage, leaving unanswered the question of whether coverage is consistently balanced or merely appears so when all the ups and downs of the election are tallied up. This project takes advantage of a project-generated content analysis of all NBC Nightly News broadcasts and New York Times articles during the general election period (from the national party conventions through Election Day) for four election years (1996-2008) to determine whether intra-campaign imbalance exists along three axes: volume of coverage (total coverage of each candidate), share of coverage (percentage of coverage received by each candidate on a given day, not conflated with volume), and tone of coverage (average daily valence score of coverage, positive or negative). Share and tone of coverage are both highly variable, while increases in volume of coverage are tied to specific campaign events. Analysis shows that intra-campaign shifts in coverage causes predictable shifts in support, and candidates can actively attract media attention and create or blunt imbalance.

Committee: Michael Hagen (Chair), Richard Joslyn, Daniel Chomsky, Philip R. Yanella (outside reader)

Comparative Politics

Nicolaos D. Catsis

Dissertation: Ghosts: Examining the Impact of Colonial Legacies on Post-Independence State Interests in Southeast Asia

 My dissertation is focused upon state interests and behavior following independence in the former colonial domains of Southeast Asia.  I propose a typology of four potential outcomes for states in the region; those in which the state promotes the interests of the dominant class or otherwise acts as a vehicle for their self-enrichment, those where the state prioritizes economic development or engages in behavior “developmental” in nature, those where the state attempts to project itself onto the international scene or otherwise pursues security-oriented policy, and finally, states that do not have a cohesive set of interests at all. Post-independence interests, I argue, will be a function primarily of the colonial legacy states inherit. The key components of colonial legacy are the degree of social mobility for indigenous elites, income sources for the colonial administration, and the degree of institutional-infrastructure development. Such legacies establish, whether by creating or altering preexisting structures, institutions and priorities that impact the way these states conceive of themselves, how they perceive their place in the international system, and what policies they prioritize.

The project constructs a robust explanation for the enormous variance in state interests we see across the region. It demonstrates that colonialism retains a profound impact on the behavior of states after they are independent. This impact can last for decades, through war and multiple changes in regime.

Committee: Sandra Suarez (Chair), Hillel Soifer, Roselyn Hsueh

Krystyna Litton (http://astro.temple.edu/~klitton/)

Dissertation: Party Novelty and Economic Voting: How Party Renewal Affects Voters’ Party Preferences in Various Economic Contexts in the EU

In the literature, electoral accountability has been explored in many ways. Among those are the studies of economic voting examining to what degree government parties are held accountable for the state of the economy. By now, the studies have incorporated variables that reflect how clear is the chain of responsibility for the economic policies. Among those are national level variables, such as the clarity of responsibility index, and party level variables, such as the number of seats a party occupies in a government. This dissertation suggests that the responsibility for the government policies can be obscured by yet another party level variable – party novelty. I define party novelty as the quality that reflects the degree of change within a party in terms of its structure (mergers, splits, etc) and attributes (name, leader, and program) within one electoral cycle. I argue that party change obscures party identity and, thus, affects voters’ ability to hold it accountable for the state of the economy. This study explores the concept of party novelty and its effects on voters’ party preferences in various economic conditions. I construct the Party Novelty Database (1989, 1994, 1999, 2004, and 2009) and show that party novelty can be measured. Moreover, I demonstrate that party novelty varies in understandable ways, and, most importantly, that party novelty matters. Using the European Election Study and the Euromanifesto Project (1994, 1999, 2004, and 2009) I show that party novelty moderates economic voting, and this effect differs across types of party changes and the timing of change.

Committee: Christopher Wlezien (chair), Richard Deeg, Michael Hagen, Marcus Kreuzer (Villanova University)

International Relations

Molly Ruhlman (http://sites.temple.edu/mollyruhlman/)

Dissertation: Nongovernmental Participation in Intergovernmental Organizations

Although all Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) interact with non-state actors (NSAs) in some capacity, the extent to which NSAs are granted participatory roles in the governance of IGOs varies substantially. Why do some intergovernmental organizations – intergovernmental clubs of sovereign states – extend access, participatory opportunity or even participatory rights, to non-state actors? The goal of this project is to address the question of variation. I investigate the interests of the actors with power to determine the rules regarding engagement with NSAs – member states and IGO secretariats – and identify specific incentives for each actor to establish rules or practice of engagement with NSAs in each type of engagement. I expect that the member states and or secretariats that determine these engagement practices will benefit from the inclusion or participation of NSAs in specific and predictable ways. By identifying the interests and incentives of the relevant actors, we can predict the creation of particular sorts of engagement and explain variation in those engagement mechanisms across different intergovernmental organizations. To test the proposed relationship between IGO interests and participatory rules I examine the United Nations system and three UN organizations: The UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP).

Committee: Mark Pollack and Orfeo Fioretos

Political Theory

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