Environment and Governance
Shaping the Coast with Permits: Making the State Regulatory Permitting Process Transparent with Text Mining
Methodologically, this paper introduces the use of various text mining techniques to retrieve valuable empirical data from unstructured texts, namely public meeting agendas and staff reports. These data reveal how the permitting process is used as a regulatory tool. The California Coastal Commission is used as a case study. The paper examines the agency’s caseloads, types of applications and outcomes. It finds that the agency’s influence lies not in rejecting but in negotiating each application to comply with the state mandates. Textual data reveal how the agency interprets the Coastal Act and translates the mandates into enforceable actions, as well as how it handles requests for development of single-family homes in anticipation of foreseeable climate vulnerabilities.
All Over the Map: The Diversity of Western Water Plans
Casado-Pérez, Vanessa, Bruce Cain, Iris Hui, Coral Abbott, Kaley Dodson, and Shane Lebow
Water planning is a challenge not only because of the variability of the resource but also because water basins do not map our local, regional or state political divisions and many types of users compete for the resource. In addition, states have to conform to certain federal constraints, like the Endangered Species Act, tribal rights or interstate compacts, which curtail their leeway in deciding how to allocate and manage their water. Even accounting for these external constraints, the content of Western water plans varies substantially. A typical state plan includes from an inventory of water uses, demand projections and management recommendations. But not all state plans conform to this scheme. Regarding length, topics covered, frequency at which they are updated, and public involvement, they are all over the map. Many reasons might be behind the disparity, but among those, the funding allocated to planning and the relative power of different interest groups are quite salient. Water planning is a necessary tool to manage water, particularly in a climate change scenario. Planning is a state task but we believe the federal government is in a good position to promote standardized data collection on state water supply and by offering grants to the states. Good information and an informed menu of possible choices is a realistic goal that could in theory achieve bipartisan consensus and move us closer to an integrated and sustainable water resources management.
Psychological Resistance toward Using Recycled Water in California
Iris Hui and Bruce Cain
California’s traditional hydrological system assumes a heavy, reliable snowpack and the timely release of surface water in the warmer months. However as a consequence of climate change and a prolonged drought, California must now consider alternative water supply sources such as recycled wastewater. But state officials fear that a proposal to expand direct or indirect potable use wastewater programs would trigger strong public resistance due to the ‘yuck’ factor, an instinctive aversion to many recycled wastewater uses. Here we use data from a representative sample of adult Californians (N=1500) to examine the relation between information and sociodemographic
factors to the willingness to adopt recycled water in ten different applications. We find that direct consumption or skin contact with recycled water stirs the strongest resistance. We conducted a randomized experiment to test how respondents would react to learning that there is large, existing, indirect potable use program in Orange County and about the scientific reliability of purified wastewater. While both messages boost support for almost all uses of recycled water, respondents still resist drinking, bathing and cooking with it. Contrary to some previous findings, the response to both information cues generally does not appear to depend upon level of
Demography and Migration
Who is Your Preferred Neighbor? Partisan Residential Preferences & Neighborhood Satisfaction
Do people specifically seek to live amongst political co-partisans when they relocate? Does the partisan composition of the neighborhood affect their level of residential satisfaction? Using two modules in the 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, I find that people have a clear preference for co-partisans. Both Republican and Democrat identifiers prefer more co-partisans in their neighborhood. Although the preference is not important in deciding where to settle, the partisan composition of a neighborhood does affect one’s sense of neighborhood satisfaction. I devised a survey-embedded experiment to assess whether respondents’ subjective satisfaction is sensitive to objective facts about their neighborhood. Respondents’ satisfaction slightly decreases when told their neighborhood has a higher presence of members from the opposite party than perceived.
Politics of Residential Choice
When the book The Big Sort first came out, the main thesis that Americans are now sorting themselves residentially based on partisanship was met with skepticism. The thesis may be flawed but the idea that people engage in residential sorting based on a range of non-racial and non-economic preferences, including political preferences, is not entirely inconceivable. In this article, I will briefly outline researches that examine two predominant types of residential sorting, namely, sorting by in come and race. Then I will discuss some recent researches that examine political preferences as a driver for residential choice. These researches lay out a more comprehensive theoretical framework in thinking about how politics affects residential choice. After that, I will end with a discussion of some political consequences of residential choice.
Seeking Politically Compatible Neighbors? The Role of Neighborhood Political Composition in Residential Sorting
James Gimpel and Iris Hui
High rates of internal migration throughout the United States offer opportunities to examine the factors underlying residential selection and neighborhood choice. We devise a survey experiment where respondents are shown photographs of properties and information about the local socioeconomic environment. By providing and varying additional information about the neighborhood partisan composition, our survey experiment explores how political information affects property evaluation. We find that the same property will be evaluated more favorably by partisans when they learn that it is situated in a predominantly co-partisan neighborhood. A second experiment examines how people make judgments about neighborhood partisan composition in the absence of readily available information. We learn that correct inferences about the politics of a locale can be drawn from non-political information about it, even without exposure to direct information about its partisan balance.
Inadvertent and Intentional Partisan Residential Sorting
James Gimpel and Iris Hui
We present evidence for two mechanisms that can explain increasing geographic divide of partisan preferences. The first is “inadvertent sorting” where people express a preference for residential environments with features that just happen to be correlated with partisanship. The second is “intentional sorting” where people do consider partisanship directly. We argue that the accumulating political biases visible in many neighborhoods can be the effect of some mixture of these two mechanisms. Because residential relocation often involves practical constraints and neighborhood racial composition is more important than partisanship, there is less partisan segregation across the United States than there could be based on residential preference alone.
Voter Migration and the Geographic Sorting of the American Electorate
Wendy Tam Cho, James Gimpel and Iris Hui
Questions have been raised in recent years about the extent to which the nation is segregating by the political preferences of its migrants. Some have argued that internal migration selects, at least partly, on political criteria, and thereby produces increasingly polarized Republican and Democratic neighborhoods. We are among the first to empirically examine voter migration on a large scale. Using data for hundreds of thousands of partisan migrants across seven states, we show that partisans relocate based on destination characteristics such as racial composition, income, and population density, but additionally prefer to relocate in areas populated with copartisans. This tendency is stronger among Republicans, but is also true of Democratic registrants. Whether the role of partisanship is central or ancillary, if it is any part of the decision process, it has the potential to make important imprints on the political landscape of the United States.
Applied Geography & Spatial Analyses
Need for Systematic Analysis of the Role of Geography in Political Science
Iris Hui and John Agnew
In recent years, political science has reengaged geography. Yet many of the quantitative works that employ GIS or spatial econometrics lack a succinct conceptualization of geography. The problem, we argue, stems from a lack of understanding of distinctive conceptions of space and place. We offer a general perspective on how and why geography matters and review some of the recent work that engages with spatial thinking as practiced in political science. We identify gaps and ambiguities in spatial thinking in the current literature and discuss how improper understanding can threaten the validity of empirical findings.
Spatial Dimensions of American Politics
Iris Hui and Wendy K. Tam Cho
Geography matters in American politics. In a wide array of studies, the spatial dimensions of American politics have been shown to be varied and rich. Early studies showed how geographic features might be related to politics in an ontological sense, though sometimes in inchoate and implicit ways. Fewer studies have focused on how geography matters epistemologically. This latter sense, which must be preceded by
the former, is more difficult to measure and accordingly, more difficult to show. The growth in studies of geography and politics is exciting and becoming more advanced alongside technological tool development. As the field matures, more explicit engagement with the concept of geography will yield new and exciting insights into the phrase “geography matters.”
Using Spatial Techniques and Counterfactual Design to Examine Voting System Performance
This article proposes an alternative research design using geographic discontinuity to assess the performance of voting systems, focusing on InkaVote, a voting system employed in Los Angeles County, California. It also demonstrates how a geographic information system (GIS) can be integrated with statistical analyses to improve causal inference.With this new methodology, the article compares the performance of the InkaVote system in the 2004 and 2006 elections and examines whether the introduction of a paper ballot reader (PBR) in 2006 improved the performance of the system. The findings show that the PBR implementation was effective, as it reduced the residual vote rate by about one percentage point.
Reexamining the Effect of Racial Propositions on Partisan Realignment in California
Iris Hui and David Sears
Many seasoned politicians and scholars have attributed the loss in support for the Republican Party in California to its push for three racially divisive propositions in the mid 1990s, namely Propositions 187, 209, and 227. We reassess the effect of the three racial propositions with special focus on partisan identification and registration among Latinos and whites. Using three separate data sources, we find no evidence of a “tipping point” or abrupt realignment among either white or Hispanic registered voters which made up the electorate. The impact is primarily felt among Hispanic unregistered voters, although the dealignment from major political parties began well before the propositions. Our findings question a widespread current misconception about the exaggerated political effects of the propositions in California and reaffirm the long standing literature that realignment in “critical elections” is rare.
Competition and Redistricting in California: Lessons for Reform.
Cain, Bruce E., Karin Mac Donald, and Iris Hui.
Field Poll Cumulative File, 1956-2008.
California Public Opinion Dataset
(Section under construction. More to come)