27 December 2011

Monkey Cage Round-up

From The Monkey Cage, some recent posts that also tie to local politics and events:

  • Media “consumption”. A recent post by John Sides at the Washington Post discussed a study into how much radio news people reported they listened to with the amount they actually did.  Two things to take away from Sides in the WP:  First, there can be a huge discrepancy between what people report and what they actually do.  As a result, pundits and analysts may have a hard time connecting advertising, news coverage and other sources of political opinion to voter attitudes and behaviour.  Second, think about the technology used to collect the data.  They used a small cellphone that recorded ambient noise.  The researchers then compared the information to “radio and television programming in the participant’s media market to identify what, if any, programs they had listened to or watched.”
  • The Partisan use of Public Money:  A new study published in the American Political Science Review established an undeniable connection between a recorded incident of political direction from the White House with changes in government contracting:  “Vendors in Republican districts labeled vulnerable [by the White House] experienced contracts an estimated 272% larger than those in their unmentioned counterparts.”  Yes, folks, in some parts of the world this sort of thing is actually considered to be wrong. In other places, political direction of capital works spending is considered “normal”.
  • Tax rates and Corporate Investment:  “Utilizing dynamic tests for up to 19 OECD countries from 1980 to 2000 and isolating the impact of time-varying factors on FDI [foreign direct investment] inflows, I find no empirical relationship between corporate taxation and FDI inflows. Using a number of different tax rate variables, control variables, and estimation techniques, I find no relationship between corporate tax rate changes and FDI flows.” 
  • Nonvoters:  The phrase “absentee ballots and early voting” caught your humble e-scribbler’s attention given the law suit the local Dippers have launched against the provincial special ballot laws.  Those “special ballots” are not really special but rather a way to allow people who will be absent from the province during an election to vote. Do a bit of digging, though, and you’ll find the original New York Times commentary on the differences between people who vote and those who don’t vote in elections.  That discussion gets to be especially interesting around these parts given that elections since 2003 are characterised by relatively low voter turn-outs (when compared to previous elections in this province.)
  • Politics and polls:  “No one set of polls drives how Americans think nor how “the media” reports on politics. Neither does a single politician reap a unique advantage from polling. The signal is too diffuse.
  • The overall effects of polling are often neutralized in the cacophony of private and public surveys and the swirl of other media and campaign tactics. There are tremendous problems with American politics today; polls are not the cause.

- srbp -