Gibson and Shaw: Politics as Unusual

Nadine Ginbson and Daron Shaw and I published an article in Social Science Quarterly, “Politics as Unusual? Exploring Issues and the 2016 Presidential Vote” (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ssqu.12595).

Conclusion: Relative to other Republican presidential candidates, Trump was more effective in tapping into anti‐political feelings prior to the Republican Convention. By the general election, issue perceptions of Trump were similar to those we see for most Republican presidential candidates. Feelings toward third‐party candidates, however, were more strongly structured by an anti‐politics dimension.

Burdine Chronicles – April 2019

Dear Alumni and Friends,

This newsletter is somewhat bittersweet for me. This is my last semester as chair, and thus my last newsletter. With that in mind, I hope to see many of you in Chicago at the MPSA conference. The Texas Reception is Saturday night, April 6, 8:30-10:30, in the Honore room. I hope you will give me the pleasure of handing you a drink ticket one more time.

As always, we have plenty to celebrate. Recently, I am especially encouraged by the success that our alumni and graduate students have been enjoying. For example, in Fall 2019, Steven Brooke moves on from Louisville to start a tenure-track position at University of Wisconsin-Madison, which I and my predecessor, Gary Freeman (being proud UW PhDs), have always maintained is the top department in the country. This comes on the heels of Brooke publishing his book with Cornell, Winning Hearts and Votes: Social Services and the Islamist Political Advantage. We have other exciting placement news as well. Ken Miller, coming off a Princeton post-doc, will begin a tenure-track position at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Miller’s article, “The Divided Labor of Attack Advertising in Congressional Campaigns,” is forthcoming in Journal of Politics. Christina Bambrick will begin a tenure-track position at Clemson; Thomas Bell a tenure-track position at Knox College; Nadine Gibson a tenure-track position at UNC-Wilmington; Kyosuke Kikuta a tenured position at Osaka University; Joe Tafoya a tenure-track position at DePaul; and Michelle Whyman a tenure-track position at Florida State. Matthew Wright’s book A Vindication of Politics: On the Common Good and Human Flourishing, has been published by University Press of Kansas, and Wright has some exciting news about a prestigious visiting appointment for 2019-20 that should be ready soon for public announcement. Giorleny Altamirano Rayo’s dissertation, “Securing Territory: State Interests and the Implementation of Ethnic Land Rights in the Americas,” won the Western Political Science Association’s best dissertation award, and Kate Bersch’s book, When Democracies Deliver: Governance Reform in Latin America, has been published by Cambridge. And Trey Thomas has won UT-Arlington’s President’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

I am also pleased to note some of the many ways that our faculty members continue to impress. First, a note about promotion. In Fall 2019 four associate professors will be promoted to full professor: Dan Brinks, Devin Stauffer, Jeff Tulis, and Scott Wolford. Congratulations to these four most-deserving candidates! A quick word about two of these professors. Devin Stauffer’s book, Hobbes’s Kingdom of Light, will be the focus of an author meets critics roundtable at Midwest, at 8am Friday morning. And Scott Wolford’s new book, The Politics of the First World War: A Course in Game Theory and International Security, is available from Cambridge University Press. Other faculty members continue to make waves as well. Kurt Weyland and Raúl Madrid have published their edited volume, When Democracy Trumps Populism, and Tom Pangle’s next book, The Socratic Founding of Political Philosophy: Xenophon’s Economist, Symposium, and Apology, has an expected 2020 release from Chicago. Bryan Jones, Sean Theriault, and Michelle Whyman’s new book, The Great Broadening: How the Vast Expansion of the Policymaking Agenda Transformed American Politics, will be published with Chicago in June 2019.

In the category of “making waves,” Nate Jensen is something of a media phenomenon. Jensen and graduate student Calvin Thrall released in February a white paper, “Who’s afraid of sunlight? Explaining opposition to transparency in economic development.” Since January 2019, the College public relations team has collected more than 500 media clips mentioning Jensen’s work on economic development incentives, which far outpaces any other faculty member at UT. Bethany Albertson has won a President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award, Zach Elkins’ project, Constitute, has been made available in Spanish, Amy Liu received a President’s Award for Global Learning to lead a team of undergraduates student maternal mortality rates in Europe, Russia, and the Caucasus, and Zach Elkins, Ken Greene, and Eric McDaniel have received Provost’s Authors Fellowships to support their current book projects. Finally, this Spring we hosted the Southern Political Science Association’s annual meeting. Organized by Chris Wlezien, this year’s Southern was the association’s most well-attended meeting on record.

Finally, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to a couple of faculty members who are retiring or entering phased retirement after this semester – Jim Enelow and David Prindle. Our many thanks and best wishes go out to both of them. Another fine colleague, Paula Newberg, left the department at the end of the Fall semester to return to DC. We wish her the very best.

As my time as chair comes to end, I can’t help but to get a bit introspective. I became chair in 2013, and sent my first newsletter before that Fall’s APSA conference. At the time, we were coming off our most recent external review. The external reviewers noted that a 2-2 teaching load is standard at a leading research university, but that the number of students our faculty teach is well above the norm and thus our teaching load is “very difficult to reconcile with a scholarly career.” A key part of our teaching load, of course, is the introductory sequence of GOV 310 and 312. On this front, I believe we have made important changes that have lessened this teaching burden for the bulk of our faculty by introducing online courses. Make no mistake, we are teaching more students than ever. Our count for Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 had us teaching more than 9,000 students across 310 and 312. However, we have succeeded in shifting this burden away from the majority of our faculty. Our online course offerings routinely teach nearly half of these students, while graduate assistant instructors and non-tenure track faculty teach the bulk of the rest. Every semester a few tenured and tenure track faculty also contribute significantly to this teaching load, but overall, I believe the innovations we have pursued, especially the online course offerings, have been a net positive for the teaching burden carried by the bulk of the department. Simultaneously, we have been a stand out department within the College given the disproportionate college-wide teaching burden we are carrying.

Two other areas that the external report flagged for improvement were faculty leaves and graduate funding. I will be the first to admit that the progress we have made on these two issues is not adequate, but I am pleased that we have been able to make some progress. Again, the progress we have made can be attributed to our online course offerings. In Fall 2019, two faculty members will receive a semester-long research leave that is a product of an agreement with the Dean that translates our large enrollments in online courses into extra faculty leaves. Moreover, beginning in Fall 2019 we are giving an across-the-board increase in graduate student teaching assistant stipends with money generated by online course enrollments through University Extension. To reiterate, in neither of these cases is the progress we have made sufficient. We would still welcome and benefit greatly from a systematic sabbatical policy. And our graduate students have been suffering for too long as their wages have not kept pace with Austin’s increasing cost of living. We continue to work to improve this situation, and will continue doing so. Thanks to some generous programs from the Provost, Graduate School, and College, in combination with department resources we have been able to allocate toward this effort, we are pleased that we have been able to make some improvements, even if we wish we could do more. Improving the graduate student experience here I am sure will always remain a priority.

Serving as department chair has been an unforgettable experience and a great honor. I appreciate all of your support over these past six years. While there were always surprises waiting for me around the corner, what has remained consistent is the professionalism and high level of scholarship and teaching provided by our faculty, students, and alumni. I want to thank all of you for contributing to the department’s record of academic excellence. I hope to see you in Chicago.

Sincerely,

Robert G. Moser
Professor and Chair

Joe Tafoya: Recent Publications

Joe Tafoya has two recent publications:

“I feel like I was born here: Social identity, political socialization, and deAmericanization,” in Latino Studies;

“Partisan Learning or Racial Learning: Opinion Change on Sanctuary City Policy Preferences in California and Texas,” in The Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics.

Trey Thomas: Recent Publications

Recent publications by Trey Thomas:

“From Disaster Response to Community Recovery: Nongovernmental Entities, Government, and Public Health” in American Journal of Public Health, 2019, with Daniel Sledge

“Gender Politics in the Lobbying Profession” in Politics & Gender, forthcoming, with Katie Marchetti and Tim LaPira

David Weiden: Fiction Writer

David Weiden has signed a contract with Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers to publish two books of fiction, Winter Counts (forthcoming 2020) and the second book in the series, Wounded Horse.  Gallmeister Editions will publish the books in France.  Winter Counts is the story of a local Native American enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation who becomes obsessed with finding and stopping the dealer who is bringing increasingly dangerous drugs into his community.  David also recently received a grant from PEN America to write a series of essays on the issue of mass incarceration of Native Americans.  Those interested in learning more are invited to visit his web site, www.DavidWeiden.com

Greg Michener: Recent Publications and Transparency Program Update

Recent publications by Greg Michener:

2018  Gauging the Impact of Transparency Policies. PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION RE-VIEW, 79 (1): 1-148

2017  Forest Governance without Transparency? Evaluating state efforts to reduce deforesta-tion in the Brazilian Amazon. ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY AND GOVERNANCE, 27(6): 560-574 (with Eduardo Bizzo)

2018  From Opacity to Transparency? Evaluating Access to Information in Brazil Five Years Later. REVISTA DE ADMINISTRAÇÃO PÚBLICA, 52(4) (with Evelyn Contreras and Irene Niskier)

Michener runs the Transparency at Brazil’s Fundacao Getulia Vargas, which has contributed two findings that have resulted in policy innovations by the Brazilian federal government: 1) a field experiment (paper now under review) provides evidence to show that public officials are identity-questing (Googling) freedom of information (FOI) petitioners and responding in preferential ways based on identities. As a result, the federal government now provides FOI petitioners with the option of protecting their identities. The is a first in Latin America. See the OECD policy innovation piece written on it; 2) Close to a thousand FOI requests and corresponding responses (or the lack thereof) show a significant positive relationship between the use of FOI request-and-response platforms and the likelihood and quality of responses. This is the first finding of its kind anywhere, and has spurred the Brazilian federal government to create a nation-wide request-and-response platform.

Manochehr Dorraj: Recent Publications

Recent publications by Manochehr Dorraj:

“Populism and Corporatism in the Middle East and North Africa: A Comparative Analysis” Chinese Journal of Political Science.  September 2017. Vol. 2, No. 3, PP: 288-313.

(M. Dorraj & K. Morgan) Editors, Global Impact of Unconventional Energy Resources (Lanham and New York: Lexington Books, 2019).

China and Japan’s Pursuit of Unconventional Fuels” in (M. Dorraj & K. Morgan) Editors, Global Impact of Unconventional Energy Resources (Lanham and New York: Lexington Books, 2019): 191-203.

Ken Miller: JOP Article

Ken Miller’s article, “The Divided Labor of Attack Advertising in Congressional Campaigns,” is forthcoming in Journal of Politics. Miller also has an article, co-authored with Tasha Philpot, forthcoming in Social Science Quarterly, “New Face to the Race Card: Campaigns, Racial Cues, and Candidate Credibility.”

Teaching Undergraduates Research and Inquiry Skills

https://medium.com/@UT_Flags/the-necessity-and-challenges-of-teaching-undergraduates-research-and-inquiry-skills-89ca9d01cf3e

The Necessity and Challenges of Teaching Undergraduates Research and Inquiry Skills

As a tier one research university, the University of Texas at Austin supports and encourages innovative research work from tenured faculty and undergraduate students alike. UT has specific programs and funds dedicated to helping undergraduates get involved in faculty research and develop their own independent research projects. The Independent Inquiry Flag (II Flag) at UT Austin works with professors to engage all students in the process of inquiry through an independent project that meaningfully contributes to their discipline.

Each discipline can integrate the II Flag in the way that best gives students in the field the inquiry skills they need for their futures. The courses’ culmination projects take many forms, from art exhibits or performances, to research papers or business plans. In every discipline, though, students engage in the full inquiry process, from developing a research question or topic to communicating their results to others. For the faculty leading II Flag courses, the experience of teaching these courses can be rewarding, even as it presents unique challenges as compared with their other teaching.

Last spring, Government faculty members Patricia Maclachlan and Xiaobo Lu piloted an upper-level course on Institutions and Comparative Political-Economic Development with an II Flag. Professor Maclachlan explained that they started the course because they “wanted to have a class that gives ambitious students an opportunity to put their best foot forward.” The Government department is looking to strengthen its majors’ research skills, and they saw this as an opportunity to offer a research experience to advanced students. Teaching the course with the II Flag helped them challenge those students and give them practical skills for their futures. Although only some of the students in the class were interested in graduate school, the instructors also saw this class as a stepping stone for research in the students’ future professional careers. For some students, this course allowed them to deepen their inquiry skills; for other students, this was their first opportunity to engage in independent inquiry.

In the course, Professors Maclachlan and Lu adapted the II Flag’s steps of inquiry to their discipline to help guide students’ research. They placed special attention on the first step, identifying the research topic, to help the students build the foundation of their research on solid arguments. Professors Maclachlan and Lu used at three-part approach to help the students develop argumentation for their research projects. First, they grounded the students in key theories from political-economic development. Then, they used in-class exercises to show the students how to use these theories as a framework for their arguments and research questions. Lastly, they set up one-on-one meetings with the students to help them further narrow their arguments and questions. Throughout this process, they were careful to give their students the freedom to branch out and explore their own research interests in the topic.

Throughout the inquiry and research process, Professors Maclachlan and Lu also challenged the students to engage with their peers’ work. In this step, the students had to critique a peer’s work as well as be reflective on the limitations of their own work. After reading their peer’s work, each student wrote up their feedback and prepared to discuss it in class with their peer partners. Similar to presenting at an academic conference, the students presented their research-in-progress to the class and received feedback from the group. Instead of a one-way written critique, this assignment required the students to discuss each other’s work and exchange ideas together. This peer review process gave the students experience giving and receiving feedback on their work so that they could strengthen their final paper, as well as practice presenting their work in a realistic, professional setting.

However, similar to most research projects, the teaching process was not as straightforward as Professors Maclachlan and Lu originally thought it would be. Early on in the semester, they realized that their students were at different places in their levels of research skills. Some of the students in the class had taken research methods classes before, but this was the first time many of the students had ever been exposed to the research process. This meant that many of the students were not prepared for the level of research or writing that the instructors had expected in the course. In a course with a large independent research project, teaching students with different levels of research skills and self-motivation proved to be one of the biggest challenges.

To address this, they focused on introducing and deepening the students’ understanding of key aspects of research: creating research questions and hypotheses, developing bibliographies, crafting a research design, and writing proposals. Although it was not an introductory class to research methods, they set aside time in each class to bridge gaps in the students’ research skills. They also gave them an introduction to key methodological skills, such as data analysis. Professor Maclachlan pointed out that, in spite of the students’ different starting places, “every student had room to expand skills in developing arguments and supporting them with evidence.” Learning and honing those skills was fundamental for the course and for their future careers.

Armed with the experience of teaching the course last spring, Profs. Machlachlan and Lu plan on teaching the course again in Spring 2019. However, they plan to make a few adjustments. Prior to starting the course, both professors have been intentional about communicating their expectations with the enrolled students and encouraging them to challenge themselves in the course.

They are also reaching out to the students to establish their level of experience with research skills and independent inquiry. The most important take-away they learned from teaching this class the first time was the importance of knowing their students’ research backgrounds. “Don’t assume any prior [research] knowledge, and survey the class at the beginning of the semester,” says Professor Maclachlan. She advises asking the students what research skill set they have and how familiar they are with the library’s resources. Then, instructors can tailor the course to the meet those gaps and further the students’ individual research.

Across the disciplines, the inquiry process necessarily varies and presents its own set of challenges. Likewise, courses with an II Flag will present different challenges and opportunities for each discipline. Professors Maclachlan and Lu’s course gave students the opportunity to take on an independent research project and deepen their understandings of the research process. No matter the student’s starting point or level of research skills, each student gained a deeper understanding of the inquiry process that they can apply to their work in the future.


If you would like to know more about the Flags program at UT Austin, you can find this information here.

If you are a professor at UT, you can find resources to help teach the Independent Inquiry flag here. We also provide resources and ideas to help you teach each of the other Flags here

By Abby Attia, Graduate Assistant for CSEF

Trump’s State of the Union: Immigration, Abortion, and No Policy Content

Graduate students working with the Policy Agendas Project (Connor Dye, Laura Quaglia, Katie Madel, Maraam Dwidar, and EJ Fagan) published an analysis in the Monkey Cage showing that Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address was the first since 1948 to mention abortion; that Trump has emphasized immigration more than any other president; and that his speech included the most statements containing no policy content:

Monkey Cage – Trump’s State of the Union

Burdine Chronicles – August 2018

Dear Alumni and Friends,

I hope you will join me at the Texas Reception at this year’s meeting of the American Political Science Association. The reception is Friday, Aug. 31, at 7:30 pm. We’ll be in Back Bay B in the Sheraton Boston Hotel, and drinks are on me! We will be celebrating awards, and plenty of them.

Perhaps most notably, Jeff Tulis is being presented with the 2018 Legacy Award from APSA’s Executive Politics Organized Section for The Rhetorical Presidency. The award has been given three times previously, to William Howell (Chicago), Samuel Kernell (UC-San Diego), and Stephen Skowronek (Yale), and recognizes a “living author for a book, essay, or article, published at least 10 years prior to the award year that has made a continuing contribution to the intellectual development of the fields of presidency and executive politics.”

This is a huge recognition – I do not hesitate to say that no member of our faculty has written a more influential book than Jeff’s Rhetorical Presidency. I am of course likewise thrilled to draw attention again to Jeff’s new book, co-authored with alumna Nicole Mellow, Legacies of Losing in American Politics. Tulis will participate in an Author Meets Critics Panel on the book Thursday, Aug. 30, 2-3:30pm. One final note on Tulis – he has been invited to be one of four Commentators at this year’s prestigious Tanner Lecture at Princeton University. It is an honor bestowed on persons of the highest scholarly reputation, and it is now the second time Jeff has been invited.

In other exciting faculty news, I am thrilled to announce that Alison Craig is receiving the Carl Albert prize for the best dissertation in legislative studies from APSA’s Legislative Studies Section.

On the teaching front, HW Perry has received two of the university’s most coveted teaching awards – the Friar Centennial Teaching Award (click here for link to video of the traditional class ceremony), as well as induction into the Academy of Distinguished Teachers. And Xiaobo Lü received the College of Liberal Arts Josefina Paredes Endowed Teaching Award.

As awesome as it is to announce these awards, I am perhaps more excited to report on the success of our young alumni and graduate students. And so, it is with great pleasure that I let you know alumna Calla Hummel has won two major paper awards. Hummel’s paper, “Disobedient Markets: Street Vendors, Enforcement, and State Intervention in Collective Action,” has been named both the Alexander George best article by the American Political Science Association’s Qualitative and Multi-Method Research Section, as well as winner of the Comparative Political Studies Editorial Board’s Best Paper Award.

Regarding placement, our newly minted Ph.D.s, are settling in at tenure track jobs (Kentucky, Clemson, Davidson College, and San Francisco State), non-tenure track appointments (Toronto, Texas A&M, St. Edward’s University, and College of Charleston), and post-docs (Harvard, Princeton, Duke, Emory, Penn, Carnegie Mellon, UT-Austin, Missouri, and the Max Planck Institute). Congratulations to all of you!  Here is a list of all recent UT placements.

Finally, on the graduate student front, I would like to draw your attention to two recent articles by Christina Bambrick, one published in Publius and the other forthcoming in Polity.

Perhaps the heat is getting to me, but that is all I have for you now! Yet, you can read more about our alumni (here and here), graduate students, faculty (here and here or here and here), and recent PhDs. And, here’s a list of papers Longhorns are delivering at this year’s conference.

In conclusion, I do want to give a shout out to Neal Allen, who was quoted in Rolling Stone. I would be happy to be told I am wrong, but Neal is the first political scientist I know to make it into a Rock and Roll magazine.

Sincerely,

Robert G. Moser
Professor and Chair

Christina Bambrick: Horizontal Rights

Crhistina Bambrick’s article, “Horizontal Rights: A Republican Vein in Liberal Constitutionalism,” is forthcoming in Polity.

Abstract: While liberal constitutional theory typically understands constitutions as establishing vertical arrangements in which governments protect individual rights, some courts have introduced doctrines of horizontal effect, holding private bodies responsible for the rights of others, as well. This article argues that we can understand such horizontal rights as a republican vein in the tradition of liberal constitutionalism. While the conventional liberal narrative emphasizes the rights of individuals, horizontal effect builds a catalogue of individual duties as well, corresponding to the commitments and aspirations of a given constitutional order. This article draws on classical and contemporary republican political theory, as well as cases from Germany, India, and South Africa, to demonstrate how the structure of and arguments for horizontal rights reflect proclivities and track commitments associated with republicanism. Though the fact of a republican streak in these rights need not make them antithetical to existing understandings of constitutionalism, it does admit the distinctive potential of horizontal rights to alter elements of the conventional narratives, about the nature, purpose, and limits of constitutionalism.

Xiaobo Lü: Recent Publications

Xiaobo Lü’s article “Policy Coalition Building in an Authoritarian
Legislature: Evidence from China’s National Assemblies (1983–2007)”
(with Mingxing Liu and Feiyue Li)  is forthcoming in Comparative Political Studies, as is
“The Sources of De Facto Power and Education Provision: Understanding Local Government Incentive in China” (with Mingxing Liu) in Publius: The Journal of Federalism.

Shannon Bow O’Brien: Why Presidential Speech Locations Matter

Palgrave published Shannon Bow O’Brien’s book, Why Presidential Speech Locations Matter: Analyzing Speechmaking from Truman to Obama.

Decription: This book explores speeches by American presidents. Domestic public presidential speechmaking helps us understand the pressures, priorities, and targeted audiences of different presidencies.  Many administrations generally work to reinforce already existing support though some may try to reach out to new areas.  Census areas help us better understand where presidents prioritize speeches in certain areas of the country. Designated Market Areas, or media markets, allow us to look at presidential speechmaking without geographical constraints and focus on areas of population concentrations.  Electoral College results show that most administrations prefer to give speeches in places where they have the most electoral support to reinforce their bases. The chapter on vacation locations explores how some presidents use Camp David or their homes as places to actively speak, while some administrations just use them as retreats. Foreign speeches allow us to see that most presidents prefer to speak in openly free countries more than other places.

Alvaro Corral: Immigrant Worker Project Survey

Alvaro Corral was a co-PI on the Immigrant Worker Project Survey. Over the course of seven weeks this summer he helped coordinate the effort which collected approximately 350 in-depth interviews (conducted in Spanish, K’iche, and English) with Latin American workers in rural Ohio.

Paula Muñoz: Cambridge University Press Book

Cambridge University Press will release Paula Muñoz’s book this year, Buying Audiences: Clientelism and Electoral Campaigns When Parties are Weak.

Description: Scholars typically emphasize the importance of organized networks and long-term relationships for sustaining electoral clientelism. Yet electoral clientelism remains widespread in many countries despite the weakening of organized parties. This book offers a new account of how clientelism and campaigning work in weak party systems and in the absence of stable party-broker relationships. Drawing on an in-depth study of Peru using a mixed methods approach and cross-national comparisons, Muñoz reveals the informational and indirect effects of investments made at the campaign stage. By distributing gifts, politicians buy the participation of poor voters at campaign events. This helps politicians improvise political organizations, persuade poor voters of candidates’ desirability, and signal electoral viability to strategic donors and voters, with campaign dynamics ultimately shaping electoral outcomes. Among other contributions, the book sheds new light on role of donations and business actors and on ongoing challenges to party building.

James Lutz: Recent Publications

Carol K. G. Lutz and James M. Lutz, “Russia and the Use of Trade Policy: Concentration with Soviet Successor States,” Global Economy Journal, Vol. 17, No. 4 (2017).

Georgia Wralstad Ulmschneider and James M. Lutz, “Terrorism Analysis and Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project: The Missing Element,” Terrorism and Political Violence online 2017

James M. Lutz and Brenda J. Lutz, “The Threat to State Security,” in Richard Jackson and Danielle Pisoiu (eds.), Contemporary Debates on Terrorism, 2nd ed, (London: Routledge, 2018), pp. 75-80.

Jeff Ladewig: Election Law Journal Article

Jeff Ladewig published “‘Appearances Do Matter’: Congressional District Compactness and Electoral Turnout.” Election Law Journal, 17(2): 137-150.

Abstract: Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor famously declared in Shaw v. Reno that ‘‘appearances do matter’’ when it comes to the shape of congressional districts. Although there are no definitive legal requirements for districts’ geographical appearances, the argument is widely posited that more compact districts are better. The reasoning often asserts, and empirical studies have shown, that compactness improves
communication between representatives and constituents, increases political information flows, produces fairer results, as well as restricts excessive gerrymandering. These, in turn, can all increase political participation and improve the legitimacy our representative institutions. Despite this conventional wisdom, there is little empirical evidence on the electoral effects of compactness. Using a dataset on the compactness
of U.S. House districts—with multiple measures generated by geographic information system (GIS) analyses over two redistricting cycles, I estimate the effects of congressional district compactness on electoral turnout and argue that Sandra Day O’Connor is correct: ‘‘appearances do matter.’’