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A new paper says candidates don’t pay a price for extremism – Vox.com

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The conventional wisdom in American politics is that moderates like former Vice President Joe Biden are more “electable” than radical ones like Sens. Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. This theory, arguably bolstered by recent events in the UK, actually has a solid amount of political science research backing it up. Historically speaking, candidates on either party’s more extreme wing seem to pay a price for their views come Election Day.

But there’s reason to think that this has changed recently, at least in the United States. Over the past several decades, American politics has gotten much more polarized, transforming the way American politicians and voters approach politics at a deep level. A new paper suggests that this shift, together with several other changes, might have wiped out the extremism penalty.

The research, by Boise State University political scientist Stephen M. Utych, looked at data on House voting and ideology between 1980 and 2012. Using a metric of ideology that ranks candidates from both parties on a scale from zero (most centrist) to five (most radical), he put together a model that assessed the likelihood of a candidate winning an election in each election year in the sample dates.

The following chart shows the results. As you can see, candidates who rank a relatively extreme three on the ideology score have become increasingly likely to win over time while the success rates of uber-moderates (who rank a zero) have gone down pretty dramatically. By 2008, radicals are even with moderates — and, by 2012, maybe even a little more likely to win:

Stephen Utych

“Ideological candidates are becoming increasingly likely to win US House elections over time,” Utych writes, “while moderate candidates are becoming increasingly less likely to win.”

Given that polarization is asymmetric — Republicans have moved far more to the right than Democrats have moved left — you might think that this effect is driven primarily by one party. But that’s not what Utych found. It seems that both right-wingers and left-wingers have started doing better over the course of time:

Stephen Utych

It’s possible, then, that voters may not punish extremists like they used to.

Before you throw out the conventional wisdom entirely, there are two very important caveats about Utych’s findings.

First, this is only one paper. Given the inherent difficulty in measuring complex social phenomena, it’s never a good idea to draw sweeping conclusions from a single piece of social science research — especially when there’s a fairly solid body of evidence in the opposite direction.

Second, even if Utych’s findings are replicated by other researchers, his data only concerns House elections. Other research has found that the extremism penalty is particularly strong in gubernatorial elections, and Utych’s research doesn’t really challenge that. Presidential elections are very hard to study with any degree of precision, and it’s not obvious whether voters behave more like they do in House elections or gubernatorial ones when it comes to the White House.

All that being said, there are reasons to believe that Utych’s findings are at least plausible on their face — and not just anecdotal ones like the individual victories of Tea Party and democratic socialist candidates.

The obvious one is polarization. More ideological parties leads to more ideological candidates winning office. Another important issue, one subtly distinct from polarization but deeply related to it, is what political scientists call “partisan sorting.”

This is the idea that, as the parties have gotten more ideological, voters have started to move into the party that best fits their underlying ideological beliefs. You used to have a healthy number of liberals voting Republican and some conservatives voting Democratic; now, that’s exceptionally rare. This sorting means that candidate are less likely to lose voters from their own party due to a perception of extremism — and less likely to win over voters from the opposite party due to a perception of moderation.

A fourth issue might be the rise of ideological primaries, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s challenge to Joe Crowley in 2018. Old guard moderates may be getting defeated by new upstarts better suited for their districts’ increasing liberalism or conservatism, meaning that more extreme candidates are doing better because they’re choosing the right districts to mount challenges. Geographic sorting likely makes this even easier.

“The most competitive districts for a party should be ‘outlier’ districts— those with a Republican (Democratic) advantage in the electorate but a moderate Democrat (Republican) serving as the representative,” Utych writes. “These districts are most ripe for partisan change and may attract more ideologically extreme candidates to replace the current ideologically moderate representatives.”

Utych’s research is not designed to test any of these theories. He doesn’t explain why it seems like extremists are doing better and moderates are doing worse; only that it really does seem like they are. If this effect applies to presidential elections as well as House ones — to be clear, that’s a big “if” — then maybe Democrats don’t need to be as cautious in their 2020 nomination choice as some pundits think.

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Equal Voice delegate in B.C. says gender equality in politics should be considered the norm, not a revolution – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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Maritha Louw, one of three Lower Mainland women selected as delegates for Equal Voice Daughters of the Vote , has often been told she’s too loud and that she shouldn’t share her opinions quite so much.

As a student at a Christian secondary school in Abbotsford, she was even grilled on her dreams of becoming a lawyer. “A classmate asked me how I was going to take care of the children when I had a family?” said Louw.

The consequence is that Louw, now a 20-year-old political science student at Trinity Western University, says she is even more committed to speaking her mind. “I’ve never been afraid to speak my mind because if you don’t stand up for yourself there might not be anyone to stand up for you,” said Louw.

Louw said she’s interested in the power the younger generation has to make the world a better place and that’s exactly what she hopes to do.

Although Louw doesn’t plan on pursuing a political career, she said she is hoping the online summit, which brings together gender-diverse women and youth from across Canada, will give her the opportunity to learn from others, and perhaps even “challenge some of the MPs on the Hill currently.”  Delegates who represent their ridings in the March 8 virtual mock Parliament will meet with MPs and other officials in virtual sessions to learn more about Canada’s political processes.

“It would be great to see a time where having an equal amount of women in politics wouldn’t be seen as record-breaking, or revolutionary ideal,” said Louw.

Barbara Szymczyk, 28, who will be representing Vancouver Centre, said a highlight of the process before the summit was the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with her MP, Hedy Fry.

Szymczyk doesn’t take the opportunity to be involved in the democratic process for granted. “I grew up with my mom always reinforcing how fortunate I was to live in a country with a well-established democratic system like Canada,” said Szymczyk, whose mother grew up in Poland. “I hold a deep gratitude for the right to vote.”

“It needs to be acknowledged that not all women got the right to vote 100 years ago,” Szymczyk said.  “Black, Asian and Indigenous identifying women got the right much later.”

She’s fascinated with decision-making processes, served three terms as a senator in student government at SFU, and doesn’t rule out a possible future in politics.

“Taking part in Daughters of the Vote will help me in that journey of discovering in how I can best support Canada’s democratic system,” she said.

So what, exactly, did she learn in that conversation with Fry, Canada’s longest serving female member of Parliament?

“She shared a piece of advice she got from (former prime minister Jean Chretien) about needing a thick skin: When you are in politics 15 per cent of people will support you all the time and 15 per cent of people that will have more of a negative attitude and there will be lots of people in between — your job is to serve all of them.”

Daughters of the Vote is a meeting of 338 delegates representing every federal riding in Canada, dedicated to increasing women’s participation in the political arena by connecting them to those already serving in office, and will take place online this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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Equal Voice delegate says gender equality in politics should be considered the norm, not a revolution – Vancouver Sun

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Equal Voice Daughters of the Vote hopes to increase opportunities for women in political leadership as part of the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote

Article content

Maritha Louw, one of three Lower Mainland women selected as delegates for Equal Voice Daughters of the Vote, has often been told she’s too loud and that she shouldn’t share her opinions quite so much.

As a student at a Christian secondary school in Abbotsford, she was even grilled on her dreams of becoming a lawyer. “A classmate asked me how I was going to take care of the children when I had a family?” said Louw.

The consequence is that Louw, now a 20-year-old political science student at Trinity Western University, says she is even more committed to speaking her mind. “I’ve never been afraid to speak my mind because if you don’t stand up for yourself there might not be anyone to stand up for you,” said Louw.

Louw said she’s interested in the power the younger generation has to make the world a better place and that’s exactly what she hopes to do.

Although Louw doesn’t plan on pursuing a political career, she said she is hoping the online summit, which brings together gender-diverse women and youth from across Canada, will give her the opportunity to learn from others, and perhaps even “challenge some of the MPs on the Hill currently.”  Delegates who represent their ridings in the March 8 virtual mock Parliament will meet with MPs and other officials in virtual sessions to learn more about Canada’s political processes.

Article content

Maritha Louw, one of three Lower Mainland women selected as delegates for Equal Voice Daughters of the Vote.
Maritha Louw, one of three Lower Mainland women selected as delegates for Equal Voice Daughters of the Vote. Photo by Handout /PNG

“It would be great to see a time where having an equal amount of women in politics wouldn’t be seen as record-breaking, or revolutionary ideal,” said Louw.

Barbara Szymczyk, 28, who will be representing Vancouver Centre, said a highlight of the process before the summit was the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with her MP, Hedy Fry.

Szymczyk doesn’t take the opportunity to be involved in the democratic process for granted. “I grew up with my mom always reinforcing how fortunate I was to live in a country with a well-established democratic system like Canada,” said Szymczyk, whose mother grew up in Poland. “I hold a deep gratitude for the right to vote.”

“It needs to be acknowledged that not all women got the right to vote 100 years ago,” Szymczyk said.  “Black, Asian and Indigenous identifying women got the right much later.”

She’s fascinated with decision-making processes, served three terms as a senator in student government at SFU, and doesn’t rule out a possible future in politics.

“Taking part in Daughters of the Vote will help me in that journey of discovering in how I can best support Canada’s democratic system,” she said.

So what, exactly, did she learn in that conversation with Fry, Canada’s longest serving female member of Parliament?

“She shared a piece of advice she got from (former prime minister Jean Chretien) about needing a thick skin: When you are in politics 15 per cent of people will support you all the time and 15 per cent of people that will have more of a negative attitude and there will be lots of people in between — your job is to serve all of them.”

Daughters of the Vote is a meeting of 338 delegates representing every federal riding in Canada, dedicated to increasing women’s participation in the political arena by connecting them to those already serving in office, and will take place online this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

dryan@postmedia.com

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The 2021 elections will shape politics for years – Hindustan Times

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Over the past year, the federal structure has come under strain. A BJP win in Bengal and presence in government in Tamil Nadu will strengthen the Centre’s hand — while a TMC win in Bengal and a DMK win in Tamil Nadu will strengthen the voice of states (SANTOSH KUMAR/HTPHOTO)

The 2021 elections will shape politics for years

The polls will shape the trajectory of national politics, determine the balance of power between the Centre and states, and reveal the current strength of national and regional forces
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 08:56 PM IST

Given that polls are held every year in some part of India, the upcoming polls in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry can be seen as yet another component of India’s dynamic democratic cycle.

But these elections, arguably, have much greater significance than usual. The polls are happening in the backdrop of a turbulent time in national politics where structural changes are underway; the poll results will determine the trajectory of India’s national and top regional parties; they will, therefore, also have an impact on the nature of the federal structure that underpins the constitutional order in India; and each state has gone through a challenging time, in terms of both politics and governance, and the outcome will reflect how voters perceive the performance of the state governments in dealing with these challenges.

To begin with, while there is now overwhelming evidence that state elections are fought and won on state-specific leadership and issues, they cannot be divorced from the larger national backdrop. There are three specific national-level changes, which will have an impact on state polls.

The first is, of course, Covid-19. The pandemic disrupted lives and livelihoods, changed the nature of political communication, and highlighted issues which, so far, had not been at the heart of the electoral discourse — including health care. The elections will show if Covid-19 has forced a change in the way parties reach out to voters and the way in which voters decide on their choices, or whether the pandemic has, actually, not changed older political patterns. The second is the direction of economic reforms the government has undertaken. While this remains at a preliminary stage — the Centre’s moves on privatisation, for instance, have not been operationalised yet — there is now a clear sign that the government will push through liberal economic measures, which cater to the market and private sector. It is too early to link any electoral outcome to this new direction, but the farm laws and the protests around it — which were geographically concentrated around north India, but had national reverberations — provide an early indication of the political passions around reforms.

And finally, in three of the five states going to polls — Assam, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu — domestic politics has a strong external dimension. The debate around the immigrants, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens brings Bangladesh into India’s domestic discourse, while the debate around Tamil rights in Sri Lanka, has an impact in Tamil Nadu. The outcome of the polls will have an impact on all these dimensions — how India’s political structures will adapt to a post-Covid-19 world; how India’s economic reform trajectory will proceed; and how India will navigate ties with the neighbourhood when the lines between the external and internal get blurred.

These polls also matter because they will shape the political future of a range of parties. For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ideal scenario is retaining power in Guwahati, getting to the seat of power in Kolkata (the big prize), having an ally govern in Chennai, squeezing through as a part of a ruling coalition in Puducherry, and expanding its presence in the assembly in Thiruvananthapuram. If this happens, expect a more confident Centre, which will pursue its political and ideological agenda with renewed vigour; and even if the BJP succeeds in just winning the east while making limited forays into the south, it will see this as a political vote of confidence.

For the Congress, the ideal scenario is winning back Assam from the BJP on the plank of its opposition to CAA, ensuring that the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led alliance returns to power in Tamil Nadu, where the Congress has a respectable junior status in government, and proving a political point in Puducherry where its government was just ousted. In Bengal, the Congress wants to expand its presence, but while keeping the BJP out of power. But there is a paradox here — success for the Congress-Left Front will split the anti-BJP vote. So there is a clash between its local politics and its national ambition of weakening the BJP. But the most important state for the party is Kerala. For two years, Rahul Gandhi has claimed he is a mere Member of Parliament from Wayanad, and while recognising that polls will be fought on a range of local factors, Kerala will be seen as Gandhi’s test within the Congress.

For the regional parties, these elections hold huge significance. All eyes are on the Trinamool Congress (TMC) — and whether, after being in power for a decade and facing an aggressive BJP, which confounded pundits by winning 18 of the 42 seats in the state in 2019, Mamata Banerjee can retain power. A victory for her, in the face of the BJP onslaught, will boost the confidence of other smaller regional forces — and she can be expected to renew efforts to forge an anti-BJP national coalition.

For the DMK, out of power for 10 years in the state, and now without the guardianship of M Karunanidhi, the elections will determine the political future of MK Stalin and, determine, more significantly, whether the BJP can be kept out as a direct or indirect player in the state where there exists deep suspicion of its cultural and linguistic politics. For the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, in the absence of J Jayalalithaa and the challenge from Sasikala, who is staking claim to the political legacy of the former CM, all hopes are riding on the incumbent CM’s governance record and support from the Centre. For the Left, Kerala remains the only state where it exercises power — and whether it can beat Kerala’s electoral dynamic of voting in alternate parties to power is the big test. And then there are smaller forces in each state — including Muslim parties in Kerala, Assam and West Bengal — who aim to expand their presence, although, in some ways, their presence enables the BJP to engage in the politics of polarisation.

The election outcome will then, have an impact on the federal structure. Over the past year in particular, the federal structure has come under strain. Non-BJP forces believe that a strong Centre, run by a hegemonic force, is undermining the constitutional structure by taking over state subjects and legislating on them, altering the financial structures which would enable states to perform effectively, and accumulating power while leaving responsibilities in the hands of states. The Centre believes that these grievances are a result of political opposition, and that whenever there has been a constructive suggestion by states, it has been taken on board. It is in this backdrop that a BJP win in Bengal and presence in government, directly or indirectly, in Tamil Nadu will strengthen the Centre’s hand — while a TMC win in Bengal and a DMK win in Tamil Nadu will strengthen the voice of states.

In the final analysis though, the elections will reflect voter satisfaction — or dissatisfaction — with their respective state governments at a time of unprecedented suffering due to the pandemic and associated economic costs. Sarbananda Sonowal, Mamata Banerjee, EK Palaniswami, Pinarayi Vijayan and V Narayanasamy (who has now resigned) are on test. They will know how voters marked them on May 2.

letters@hindustantimes.com

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