Monday, April 13, 2015

Candidate Characteristics and the Construction of Party Lists

I am presenting a second Midwest Political Science Association Conference paper (available here) with Michael Lynch that addresses how political parties manage party lists.* Specifically, it investigates how careful cultivation of down-list candidates (those situated in hopeless list positions) may benefit the party. We take advantage of a unique feature of Lithuania's party-list vote - the presence of candidate preference votes - to gauge how characteristics associated with personal vote-seeking activities affect spatial variation in preference vote acquisition. We find that preference vote performance is enhanced in regions where candidates have a local connection (e.g., nativity or residency), even among those who do not contest the constituency tier of the mixed-member system. Our findings suggest that parties can enhance their overall performance by diversifying party lists, even among unelectable list positions.

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*The authors thank Monika Aleknaviciute and Maksym Palamarenko for research assistance. The research was supported, in part, by a grant from the National Science Foundation (SES – 0751662, PIs Ellis Krauss, Robert Pekkanen, and Matt Soberg Shugart).

More on State Capacity and Election Administration During Conflict

Later this week, Nazar Boyko and I are presenting a paper (available here) at the Midwest Political Science Association Conference that explores how institutional, temporal, spatial, partisan, and experiential factors are associated with administrative capacity to conduct elections. We analyze data from surveys of officials in District Election Commissions (DECs) and Precinct Election Commissions (PECs) conducted during the October 2014 parliamentary elections in Ukraine.*

In general, we found that election administrators expressed confidence in their level of preparedness and security, as well as the integrity of the election. Variation in evaluations of preparedness or security were largely attributable to the location of the DEC/PEC and training. Unsurprisingly, commissioners in Donetsk and Luhansk were more likely to express lower levels of confidence in preparedness and security than their peers elsewhere. Assessments of integrity were associated with location as well, but concerns about manipulation were not limited to Donbas. Participation in training (standard training and supplementary security training) mitigated many of these concerns. In sum, the research suggests that the conflict's effects were largely contained in Donbas, and that state interventions (especially to enhance commissioner readiness) enhanced perceptions of readiness and integrity.

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*We thank Andriy Magera and Ukraine's Central Electoral Commission for access to personnel data and support in conducting personnel surveys; IFES for technical assistance in developing the surveys and permission to interview subjects at IFES sessions; Michael Thunberg for research assistance; and the participants in the GWU Post-Communist Politics/Social Science Workshop for valuable feedback on an earlier version of the research. The DEC survey received financial support from PACT/UNITER/USAID. The PEC surveys were supported by a National Science Foundation RAPID grant (SES-1462110).