Opposition to gay rights among serving military personnel was one of the leading justifications for the US military's longstanding ban on open service by gay men and lesbians. This study demonstrates that this opposition derives in large part from the self-selection of individuals into military careers. Using data from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program Freshman Survey, it shows a strong and increasing divergence of opinions on gay rights between students seeking military careers and their civilian counterparts, an effect that is large relative to subsequent socialization in the military. This civil–military gap is largely due to the overrepresentation of men and of political conservatives among those intending to enter the military, and the increasing importance of ideology in predicting opinions about gay rights issues. Once demographic and ideological characteristics are taken into account, the effect of seeking a military career on opinions regarding gay rights is small.
While the importance of individual candidates in British elections has long been minimized, this article argues that early day motions (EDMs)—formal, non-binding expressions of opinion—allow backbench MPs to cultivate reputations with constituents. First, this article demonstrates that greater sponsorship of EDMs is associated with better electoral outcomes, which suggests that EDMs could help vulnerable MPs improve their electoral prospects. Secondly, a Bayesian hierarchical negative binomial hurdle model, which accounts for specific features of EDM sponsorship and is novel in political science, shows that members from electorally competitive constituencies are more likely to introduce EDMs, and introduce them more often, than members from less competitive constituencies. Moreover, this relationship has increased over the past 20 years.
This article develops a new method for estimating the ideological preferences of members of the British House of Commons. Existing methods produce implausible results due to high levels of party cohesion and strategic voting on the part of opposition parties. To circumvent these problems, this article estimates MP preferences using Early Day Motions (EDMs) as an alternative to roll-call votes. The Bayesian ideal point model for the decision to sign an EDM takes into account both policy preferences and signing costs. The estimates obtained have greater face validity than previous attempts to measure preferences in the House of Commons, recovering the expected order of parties and of members within parties. The estimates successfully predict voting behavior in the House of Commons. As with other Bayesian ideal point methods, this approach produces natural uncertainty estimates and allows for easy calculation of quantities of interest such as member ranks.
This paper estimates the effects of initial committee seniority on the career outcomes of Democratic members of the House of Representatives from 1949 to 2006. When more than one freshman representative is assigned to a committee, positions in the seniority queue are established by lottery. This ensures that queue positions are uncorrelated in expectation with other legislator characteristics within these groups. This natural experiment allows us to estimate the causal effect of seniority on a variety of outcomes. Lower ranked committee members are less likely to serve as subcommittee chairs on their initial committee, are more likely to transfer to other committees, and have fewer sponsored bills passed in the jurisdiction of their initial committee. On the other hand, there is little evidence that the seniority randomization has a net effect on reelection, terms of service in the House, or the total number of sponsored bills passed.
Informational theories of legislative organization suggest that legislative authority provides committee members with incentives to acquire specialized expertise. By conceptualizing oversight as a signaling game between the committee and the executive, this study argues that committee oversight responsibilities also encourage specialization. Evidence from departmental select committees in the British House of Commons, which conduct oversight but have no legislative authority, demonstrates that service on oversight committees promotes specialization as measured by the parliamentary questions asked by members. Membership on a departmental select committee increases the number of questions asked within the jurisdiction of that committee, without increasing other questions.
It is a well-established empirical regularity that parties in federal office suffer setbacks in state-level elections. Many authors attribute this to a desire on the part of voters to balance the policy preferences of the federal incumbent. In this paper, I consider an alternative explanation with a long tradition in the literature: voters punish the party of the federal incumbent in state elections in order to send a signal to the federal government. I construct a simple signaling model to formalize this intuition, which predicts that under most circumstances signaling can occur at only one level of government. I estimate a statistical model allowing for electoral punishment using data from German elections and find support punishment at the state level, rather than the punishment at both levels implied by balancing theories.
Abstract: In this paper, I demonstrate that higher levels of union membership and NDP provincial governments are associated with lower post-tax-and-transfer inequality in Canadian provinces. These results are consistent with the power resources theory of inequality and the welfare state first advanced by Korpi (1983) and Stephens (1979), which claims that differences in organizational resources such as unions and left political parties are responsible for differences in distributional outcomes. While many studies have found this association using cross-national data from rich democracies, the repeated use of data from the same set of countries raises the possibility that the relationship is due to unobserved country-specific characteristics. Using a pooled cross-sectional time series dataset from 1980 to 2002 and focusing on within-province variation in Canada, I find evidence that supports the power resources model.