Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Belated Blogging of APSA

This is a belated posting on APSA. Sorry that I didn't get the chance to write during the conference, or after. The first two weeks of the semester at Reed College can be overwhelming.

My panel on Early Voting and the 2004 Election went well. The panel started out with a little humor from the panel chair, John McNulty of University of Binghamton (newly minted PhD out of Berkeley). I wasn't sure if John knew that I had organized the panel and solicited all the papers. I didn't expect the section head to choose a chair and discussant, but was happy to get that duty out of my hands. But since I was scheduled to deliver one paper on Early Voting in Oregon, and had added my name to another paper on Early Voting in Florida, and had organized the panel, well, John decided I needed to be on all the papers. Ha ha.

But I deserve no credit for pushing this agenda forward. The other panelists are doing excellent work in the area. First off was Kate Kenski, newly minted PhD out of U Penn (Jamieson student, worked a lot with NAES). Kate has foolishly taken a job in the Communications Department at University of Arizona! Kate assures me that she'll continue to come to political science meetings. I hope so--her work in the NAES has been excellent. While I wish the NAES would release their data to the academic community a bit sooner (it's already been nearly a year, folks!), it's only through Kate's efforts that we have a battery of items on early voting, including the only survey that asks whether an early voter "regrets" casting the ballot early.

Kate found that early voters are somewhat older, somewhat better educated and informed, but otherwise differ little on most attitudinal measures. (I replicate this finding with different surveys here, here, and here.). Where Kate needs to go next is to push some of these results in a multivariate direction--her paper included a host of bivariate differences (or lack thereof), but we don't know how many of these are sustained.

Mike Traugott delivered the next paper--Mike has been working with a group of scholars on ballot technology issues, supported by the NSF. (I have to highlight the work of Mike Hamner, a third newly minted PhD on this panel, who, in collaboration with Mike, has published some excellent papers on vote by mail in Oregon. Unlike Kathleen, Traugott does the right thing and keeps his students in Poli Sci!). The paper seemed somewhat preliminary, but reported on some fascinating experimental and empirical comparisons between punchcard and optical voting machines. The data were pretty clear--the computer based technology is far superior by almost any measure (voting errors, roll off, etc). I expect more coming from this group over the next year.

My own paper, co-authored with Benjamin Bishin of the University of Miami and Daniel Stevens of Hartwick College, along with Eva Galanes-Rosenbaum, my RA at Reed College, can be found at the website. I won't go too deeply into the results here--I am most interested in our finding that people who trust government more are willing to vote early, an obvious finding perhaps upon reflection, but one that was unexpected and has been up to now unexamined in the literature. Mike Alvarez and Thad Hall blogged on the paper; go read this for an able critique.

Finally, Jan Leighley (newly moved to Arizona--Congrats Jan!), Bob Stein (newly returned to the Department from the Dean's Office--congrats Bob!), and a student whose name I forgot, continued their research on in-person early voting and party mobilization in Texas. This was the best and most complete paper on the panel. In it, Leighley and colleagues argue that party mobilization efforts surrouding early voting are only likely to help Democrats, because Republican early voters are committed early voters. The mobilization push does not increase their numbers.

Very interesting work for anyone interested in how early voting may affect mobilization strategies.

If I find URLs for these papers, I'll post them in a few days.


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