tv Danielle Thomsen Opting Out of Congress CSPAN April 6, 2018 11:26pm-12:40am EDT
c-span2's booktv. >> and there's more booktv coming up with sur cause university professor -- syracuse university professor danielle thompson whose book takes a look at those with more moderate views are less likely to run for office. and later, ira shapiro talks about his book, "broken: can the senate save itself and the country?" >> good evening. my name is madison, and i'm a kevin b. harrington student ambassador. on behalf of the faculty, staff and students at the new hampshire institute of politics, i'd like to welcome you and thank you for joining us for this evening's event. the institute's mission is to
educate, engage and empower citizens of all ages to actively participate in the civic and political life of their communities and strengthen democracy. the institute is nonpartisan and does not endorse political issues or candidates. before we begin this evening's program, i would just like to remind you to turn off any cell phones or other devices that may make noise. tonight's speaker, danielle thompson, is an assistant professor at the maxwell school of citizenship and public affairs at syracuse university. she received her ph.d. from cornell university in 2014. prior to her position at syracuse university, ms. thompson was a post-doctoral fellow in the political institutions and public choice program at duke university. she has been the recipient of over ten untilships -- fellowships and grants including
an award in 2015 for the best dissertation in american politics. tonight ms. thompson will be joining us to discuss her latest book, "opting out of congress: partisan polarization and the decline of moderate candidates." her work shows that ideological moderates are less likely to run for and remain in congress than those at the extremes. according to ms. thompson, the future of bipartisanship in congress will fend on reformers' encouragement of moderate congressional candidates. following ms. thompson's remarks, we will have a brief question-and-answer period. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome danielle thompson. [applause] >> good evening, everyone. thank you for having me. before i start, i just want to thank professor jennifer lucas
for inviting me here. i want to thank st. answer hem college -- answer helm college and thank ann for making all of the arrangements. i'm really glad to be here. so i'm going to be presenting from my recent book man manuscrt that came out this year that was published with cambridge university press called "opting out of congress." so just about a decade ago after the 2006 congressional elections, "time" magazine suggested that the ideological center was, quote, the new place to be. but the numbers tell a different story. since then virtually all of the moderates in congressional office have retired. one of the more recent examples is charlie dent, co-chair of the tuesday group of moderate republicans who announced his retirement last year, citing the increased polarization and ideological rigidity that leads to dysfunction, disorder and
chaos. finish -- longtime republican senator olympia snowe similarly blamed the ideologies in congress as the singular reason for her exit from congress. as noah mccartney from princeton university recently wrote, what is remarkable about this story is how unremarkable it is. indeed, these articles have become a staple after every election and notable retirement. what is more, virtually no moderates have entered in their place. ..
>> the coalition of blue dog democrats has managed to hang on to a few seats. the absence of moderates from congress is striking from a historical perspective. just 40 years ago more than half of congress was at the ideological center. at that time the most prominent committee were chaired by moderates. even into the 80s and 90s liberal republicans and conservative democrats were numerous enough that they're both needed. they needed to pass policies. the decline in moderates is a part of why the goal between the republican and democratic parties is that the post- reconstruction high. partisan polarization has been a topic of debate for the last decade. the policymaking process is divided of the discord that
pervades congress feels gridlock and legislative productivity. i want to mention but scholars have called asymmetric polarization. while both have moved away from the center, republicans have moved further to the right than the democrats have left. my focus is on the decline of moderates in both parties. i'm happy to talk about asymmetric polarization in the q&a. to understand the mechanisms my book examines the type of individuals who run for office or the choices voters are given when they go to the polls. my particular concern is why it has continued to increase in recent years. the growing distances and part
because of the ideological makeup of the candidates. moderates are less likely to run for an remaining congress because the benefits are too low to do so. if the only individuals run, office come from the ideological extreme it's unlikely it will fade anytime soon. we'll talk about my book but i'm interested in who it's for office and how the quality of that representation is diminished. the decision to run for congress has received little attention from polarization scholars. the mechanisms are crucial for thinking about how to address and counteract these trends in
congress. will review what we do and don't know about polarization. the we'll talk about how my bill builds on research. i'll introduce a data set that i use to shed light on these moderates. then i will discuss how a general argument can be applied beyond and how to understand women's representation as well. i want to discuss to culprits that are perceived but probably not driving these recent changes. the first is gerrymandering. districts have become safe electoral competition has declined and only conservative republicans or democrats can win
and liberal districts. yep it academic consensus is that it matters anywhere from a little bit not at all. yeah the obvious counterpoints of the senate which have increased polarization as well. mccarty showed that it's due to the difference of how republicans and democrats represent modern districts. the second commonly set a culprit points to primary election. the logic is similar. candidates try to maximize the roads there's a level of primary
turnout or the threat of primary competition is a partisan poland realization. differences in rules seem to provide few answers. it's those in which only party members can vote they don't produce more extreme candidates than open primaries. a few recent studies in california which is expected to result in moderate candidates have shown it's yet to produce this intended effect. once assumed that gerrymandering is driving recent changes in congress the evidence to support the claim is lacking.
political scientists have focused on two main types of explanations, mass level explanations and elite level. massive takes a few forms. we know parties have real lanes with democrats losing out in the south of the debt republicans in the northeast. we know that voters are better sorted with conservatives with the republicans liberals with the democrats. while for her polarization has been hated most scholars agree that partisan activists are more extreme. elite level explanations point to procedural changes. both parties are more homogeneous a members delegate more to party leaders to look at
a different agenda. the majority party leader looks at legislative procedure to exert their will on divide some procedural issues have exacerbated the disparity between the parties. my research builds on these but sheds new done polarization by analyzing the candidates who run for office. i suggest that this is an untold part of the polarization story. my book examines two mechanisms that drive these trends. the first is the extension of moderates from the candidate pool.
a focus on state legislators. we know more than half members of congress have state legislative background. set the state level were members learn how to campaign and how to legislate. the second mechanism as to why there's been a hollowing out examines the numbers who are leaving office. i analyze retirement patterns and moderates are less likely to seek reelection. i conducted more than 20 interviews with members of congress to get a better idea of the experiences moderates had as polarization increase. i can speak more about the interviews in the q&a. i'll focus on the extension of moderates from the candidate
pool. the decline of moderates has been discussed in terms of member attrition and procedures within congress. yet the more relevant question is why new generation of moderates never arrived in congress to replenish their ranks. the replacement is responsible for much of the rise but we know little about why they're more extreme than their predecessors. there is virtually no analysis of why some run for congress another stena or how ideology influences the decision to run for office. the argument is not incompatible
with what i talked about. it builds on them. it shifts the analysis to the candidate level to understand why parties move towards the extreme. the how is important as different policy solutions are being proposed and put in place to minimize polarization. initiatives that speak to higher third parties or efforts to change the primary system might not be a cure-all for decreasing partisan polarization in congress. my book developed the party fit explanation as to why some sikh elected office and others do not. this is important because candidates have been understood to have been self-starters.
file their own paperwork and race throw money and are in charge of the day-to-day operations. they tried encourage and discourage individuals the decision is made by the candidate there's a variety of factors that influence the decision whether it's in a competent the makeup of the district where your ability to fund the campaign. i introduced party fit into studies of party emergence. it matters. the ideological congruence between a candidate and the party to which she would belong upon election. argues it would matter for
people to choose their party and personal goals. moderates are less likely to receive the benefits than those at the extreme. it's difficult for moderates to influence the agenda given the party leadership is primarily in chargers setting the agenda. the congressional environment has been hostile in isolating for those in the political middle. there are fewer members who share their worldview. i depart from the idea of legislative leaders as single-minded seekers of reelection. instead i focus on the benefits of the office itself.
the idea that there is more to running from congress in jeff flake's recent speech he said we are not here simply to mark ti time, sustained incumbency is not the point of seeking office. -- said that it's just a realization that i could keep getting reelected but it's not about getting elected. a party recruiter said the ability to get something done is always a question for those who want to serve in public office. those in office want to be legislators. interview with more than 20 moderate members of congress to illustrate how service works for those in the middle as the parties became more polarized.
all highlight how this diminished for moderates as the parties drifted apart. with respect to policy impact one so that we would appoint this so 40 in my pocket that are no. we were forced to be reckoned with. we could influenced a policy on a daily basis. he was touting the influence he had at the time. compared to ten years later man said you can't go across the aisle like you used to to get things done. you can't do that now. it does change the reward.
>> with respect to the diminishing policies when moderates said if you dare deviate from the party line you paid a penalty. i didn't have a chance to get ways and means or appropriations because they deviated too much from the party position. one member said lost a republican the ranking member determine my future was [inaudible] the subcommittee was on the -- one. i objected and he said if if your labor votes you we can have you do that. i went to the speaker and he said he talked to the ranking member. he did and it did not make a difference. the member said they can't kill
you but they can tell you that you're done. changes have received little attention from scholars polarization. the amazon spoke about how it worsened as the parties drifted apart. they said it became increasingly confrontational. everything was a fight. another said another going out is grueling. one said it's not fun anymore. like it should be pleasant. members are saying it's not pleasant. there such intense feelings. it's not very good or healthy for the republic. one of my favorite stories came from a moderate member and he
found himself in an elevator with the conservative republican colleague. his colleagues said he wanted those moderate middle-of-the-road types and he said yes identifiers and ideological moderate. he said there's two things that belong in the middle of the like, now they have a hostile environment. a far cry from the notion that the most coveted position is the one held by the median legislator. the argument is that the moderate uses liberal republicans and are less likely to run for and remain in office than those in the extreme because the benefits are too low to do so. again i focused on moderates due to the importance of the
widening of the golf. i'm happy to talk about ideologues sarge new data set created by -- who places a wide range of actors on a common scale. she uses campaign-finance data as state legislators, pax and other individual donors. apparently it's those who did and did not run for congress. some of these comprise the most unlikely pool of candidates. first because ideology is on a common scale we can make comparisons across individuals and levels of office.
due to the size there is variation across key variables. and the data is pooled over time if i'm interested in the relationship the data that i'm using includes more than 30,000 state legislators who didn't do not run for congress between 2,002,010. the time allows me to speak to recent polarization in this contributed to previous decades as well. the main outcome i'm interested in is just covered one if they ran for congress or zero if they ran for state legislature.
the main interest is the distance between her and the party leadership in congress. we can think about this in a variety of ways. it seems most appropriate to measure -- from party leadership. another benefit is using the distance between the two state legislator can be measured since they're all on the same scale. the count for variables that matter for the decision to run for congress. whether commitment was running their experience state legislators, gender and partisan control. before getting into the results i want to show you the data.
they're serving from 2000 until 2010. all reference handful of current former members like john boehner who is a leader during this time. and leaders like nancy pelosi on the democratic side. i'll referred to former moderate republicans and moderate democrats and the founder of the blue dog coalition how we can see that they fall on the spectrum much as we would expect. with nancy posey and john boehner of the outer polls never thing to note is the purple.
this is the overlap between state legislators. it's not the case that there are no moderate legislators available to run. nearly 30% are at least as conservative as john tanner. nearly 20% or as least as liberal as lynn olympia snowe. the problem is that there are no moderates were available to run. here's the ideological distribution of the runners. the state legislator who ran from office. boehner and pelosi are in the center. there's virtually no runners who resemble john tanner or olympia snowe. that overlap has disappeared will look at those who run for congressional office.
put differently here's the proportion of moderates, those who resemble snow in tanner, and john boehner and nancy pelosi the state legislative office who ran for congress. to be sure, hardly anyone grants for office. nearly 3% of state legislators resemble pelosi and boehner and .2% of republicans who represent snow. modern state legislators are less likely to run for congress than conservative republicans the difference is striking. the next few slides are show you results for open seats due to
the fact that most weight for an open sea. patterns are particularly important for understanding recent changes in polarization. open seats knocked the defeat of incompetence through force of all candidates won an open seats. >> this shows the predicted probability of running for congress across a range of state legislators. the likelihood of running for congress to decreases as state legislators distance increases. the probability that john
boehner runs in an open seat is 9%. .9% for moderate was best known for his work on environmental protections. the probability a liberal democrat runs in an open seat is 2.6% compared to .3% for moderate like bev byron. a democrat who often broke from her party. liberal democrats and conservative will are much more likely to run for office than those in the ideological middle. the argument i'm making highlights the value of the
office but research has shown electoral considerations and whether or not they think they can win are central to the decision. although districts are more homogeneous we might expect to see a variation across the district and the type of candidates who run. a larger number may run in liberal districts. or fewer moderates may run in the most conservative districts have fewer moderate democrats in the most liberal. in addition we could expect variation depending on how conservative or liberal party activist star.
moderates might be more likely to run in tossup seats because they want to attract the most support. i examine all of these with respect to the candidates who ran in the 2000 cycle. i use estimates of congressional ideology as well as the partisans in each district. the figure shows the number of candidates who ran for congress between 2,002,012 who are at least as moderate as olympia snowe another tab you can see the number of olympia snowe's who ran in the 25 most conservative districts. below that we see the 25
districts in districts with the most liberal partisan. here we have the piece we talked about. a larger number of olympia snowe's are running in liberal districts. a smaller number ran a conservative districts. yet, we must keep in my these figures and seven election cycles the more general pattern is that very few are running for congress regardless of the makeup of the district the closeness of the race. of the 4000 candidates who ran only 228 were at least as
moderate as olympia snowe. individuals have opted out and has less to do with their more conservative or if it's a tossup. when you look at the democrats this shows the candidates at least as moderate as john tanner across different districts. a larger number of candidates ran in conservative districts and in districts with democratic partisan. but again the general pattern was not running anywhere. of those that ran for congress
-- was at least so at the very least we would expect to see more variation across different types of district. so first ideological moderates they're less likely to run for congress. but the same patterns are emergent. we can talk about that on the q&a. moderates are less likely to run for congress. second, this reaches its height among ideologues which matters
for recent changes in polarization. >> in the final talk i want to demonstrate the general argument to questions beyond polarization. also you have the same candidates have implications for women's representation in congress as well. mainly why the percentage of these have increased steadily while the percentage has barely grown during this time. the number of women has grown steadily over the past 30 years. now 62 women in the democratic caucus that comprise one third of the democratic party. the representation pales by comparison.
they comprise between six and 10% of the party since the 1980s. there's now 22 women in the gop that make up 9% of the caucus. most focus on why women don't run for office. we know little of why some run and some do not. studies have been largely devoid of gender and politics. the surprising given the gap among congress. so we should light on this growing disparity among women in congress and for them to remain in congressional office. demonstrated that moderate male and female state legislators are
less likely to run than those at the extreme. by further unpacking women we can see some are significantly more likely to run than others. a conservative is significantly more likely to run for congress than a moderate who resembles olympia snowe. the same patterns matter most republican women. first there's women on the congressional pipeline these are for much of the late 20th century.
it's expected to make up the pipeline. state legislators who are in the pipeline to run for congress. very few conservatives. they make only a small appearance of the legislative pool and are many five times as many men as women in the conservative half of the pool. the rates of running are similar for men and women. because there's few republican women translates into a gender difference in political candidacies. 143 men ran for office compared to 25 conservative women.
the democratic side the children disparity is smaller. it's comprised of 36% women and 64% men. the same percentage ran for congress at 1.4% 1.6%. this amounted to 44 liberal democratic women and men. the greater number also means there's more of a chance to run in an open seat. second, republican women work less in the 1980s and 90s.
several came from the moderate wing of the party. republican women were disproportionately affected by the rise in polarization. has been a near complete makeover of women in congress in the past 20 years. the moderates have been replaced. she p women are conservative and mirror images of the paul ryans and kevin mccarthy's. of the 22 republican women serving in congress, only to have been in office since 2000. one is set to retire this year. their average election year was 2006.
in the 1990s the number of republican and democrat women with eight years of experience was virtually the same. these trends have changed so sharply retention rates differ dramatically from those on the democratic side. sixty-two democratic women in the house and 21 have served in office since before 2000. this has allowed democratic women to rise to increasingly powerful positions. these patterns matter for the partisan disparity among women in office. the general argument helps us understand changes in those elected to office in the policies they promote.
in the 80s and 90s many were prominent leaders and policy issues. moderate women matter not only for women's representation but for day-to-day operations of congress. this large turnover has implications for recent changes in the profile of gop women in their ability to advance positions in the legislature. want to summarize the takeaways. this talks about party fit and explains why some individuals run for office another stone. i highlight the candidate level mechanism that continue to drive
polarization. >> to conclude, this common thread across my research is to better understand the decision to run for office and how that matters for broad questions that the american public care about. the quality of political competition and election. these are also concerned in an attempt to minimize polarization and promote electoral competition. the quality of representations compromised when a narrow subset runs for office.
or when the competition is not as healthy as we would like. the democratic ideal depends on the existence of a vibrant and diverse pool of candidates from which voters can choose. the composition has serious consequences. thank you for your time. [applause] >> thank you for coming especially to a class it was a great discussion. can you speak of how the lack of racial diversity make contribute with the republican party? >> great question.
in many ways the lack of racial diversity in the republican party is a larger then gender diversity. you can also understand it as an ideological story too. many minorities are people of color they left. this could be looked at as advantageous or difficult for them to find a place in the party. many feel like they don't have a spot in the party. they come from the image and look of the party. when candidates of color look they don't see representative who looks like them.
on the democratic side women of color made great gains. some of that is the majority and minority districts. they been particularly successful. they you can understand the lack of a similar phenomenon that moderates will feel. it's important to look at how the questions matter across different topics of interest. how does it also matter for representation of people of color as well. >> thank you for coming. amongst moderates in general
there seem to be there also seems to be the french moderates. the people that are not as popular, maybe they are in their state, but what is their future in congress if they can't make a name for themselves or prove to be the middle-of-the-road kill that works. what's their future? >> be in a moderate is being a moderate like heidi high can't. some of this is a reflection of the senate. in the house, most moderates are in the same space and predicament. they're not really advancing to the choice committees.
but because of the rules in the structure moderates are able to have an impact. with susan collins this is why the longevity is important. susan has made a name for herself. i've camp hasn't had the chance. perhaps in a few terms she would have the same influence. so it's also looking at what they have long stood for. so some of this is individualistic in the senate that makes it challenging.
>> i think you have identified the politics of the last decade or so are not enjoyable. you also identified their is enough division in the two parties that it will continue. seems it's gotten worse. and that make it even worse. if that happens were looking at a country that has two organizations that seem to be fundamentally opposed to the existence of the other one. what can you say about how we will be governed based on what you've learned if we have two organizations that behave that way. >> this is not a rosy view of
congress or what's to come. if i offered a couple of promising ways in which you could look toward the future. i do think we have a discussion on the options on the ballot. if there's no moderate choices it's difficult to elect moderates. it's going to be very difficult to change course. identifying what's at work and what's the problem is important. more practical point is i think there's a little light right now. there's a caucus cover problem solvers caucus. it's made up of the same number
of democrats and republicans. twenty-four veatch. i think some members are committed to institutional change. even if the bulk of the party is in a direction there's a frustration in terms of what leaders are doing how much have been left out and a desire to change course. that would be my only institutional light that looks good that has the potential to change. other than that giving those who are running and who they're getting money from i'm not incredibly optimistic.
unless they can play a larger role in recruiting or bloodied moderate candidates. >> you discuss that state legislators are seen as a pipeline to congress. did you find any research evidence of a shrinking pipeline connecting the two. was there any relationship between the ideology of a potential candidate for congressional office that was a governor or any other sort of profession? >> can i ask you to clarify shrinking? >> if the number of candidates with experience has reduced more generally.
if they're in general less candidates, or more coming from the private sector. >> the number of moderates and the time to not diminish within the office during this time. that means the number of moderates in 2000 was not higher than the number of moderates in office in 2010. they did not seem to be changing during this time in my data. another thing is if you're getting that state legislators are different from others that enter. even worse we might expect state
legislators to be more moderate. this could be a conservative estimate of how little they're running. and then i have compared the state legislators and nonstate legislators an open seat. it's not different. the circle is nonstate legislators. in a couple of years for the most part they're the same. that was a concern i have. because they're coming from different pathways that might matter for the ideology but it doesn't.
>> thank you. i thought the discussion was great. i know we got off on a random tangent. other than that it was great. i'm glad she touched on the gender thing. it's an area of interest of mine. although it's concerning seems to me you hear that we should just asked my republican women to run and then they will. that's not necessarily the best. the other thing that's interesting when you're talking about the interview data and the hostility for moderates within their party i haven't thought that much about. there's not a lot of bipartisan work.
but there's potential hostility for conservatives to moderates. that's interesting. i imagine if you're getting hostility across the island from your people that can make life unhappy. internally i was thinking about the freedom caucus and how much we have seen them in the media responding quickly to changes in making themselves known. you mention this problem-solving caucus. do you think there's a place where moderates can organize better and message better? one thing were discussing in class the parties are messaging
better. it's about defeating the other side. so is there a place where moderates were able to message better they could make a dent or be seen as a bigger player. with that help at all? >> thank you for your question. i own views several republican women the pipeline is so thin that even if you asked all of them to run and their chance was the same then you would just get so many fewer of them actually running.
i think we have a clear pipeline problem that has gotten little attention. when you think about conservative republican women it's dismal. i'm not optimistic in that regard. they all have stories they would have weekly conference meetings and stand up in front of an advocate for a variety of issues. member got up and talked to some of it's hard to imagine. 200 people in the room. the living god booed in the
party conference meeting. these type of interactions not positive. another member said when he announced his retirement, he said were you sad to see you go they said it's not so much said to see me go but maybe i should go or maybe i should go or i should go. another said once we start to think about the human game that changes the way it spent it subservient. and particularly for individuals who don't have colleagues who share their ideological worldview. i like it to where i it was a
factor in many retiring. they are not shy in their criticism of the direction of the party. with respect to whether they the tactics are very different. many moderates were proud of how they work behind the scenes to influence policy on a day-to-day basis. they were louder out there. their approach was different. some thought it was a preference of the members themselves. it was not in the nature of moderates to act this way. many expressed that we could've been stronger if we adopted a more aggressive tactic.
in general, the blue dogs have a resistant leadership but the tuesday group has not. some is stylistically what they prefer and what they're comfortable with. they possibly could've been more effective if they adopted the same tactics as were seen on the right and left of each party. >> two people want to see moderate candidates anymore? especially after the election were in a place that's either us or them into holiday. mentality.
some of you had a liberal democrat they would prefer that over a moderate democrat. >> will not see moderates running because they don't think they can win or because they don't value a space in congress like they used to. at the end of the day they don't want. we don't know what's driving at. a lot of members so losing was not a factor. i've never lost an election and not worried about losing this one. these are consistent with members getting reelected. whether or not members like olympia snowe where the case that i'm talking about if they
could get elected it would be an uphill battle. but relatively moderate candidates could win. apart from the general impression that people have in politics is distasteful and an undesirable situation. i think it is the case that relatively moderate candidates could win. is it only very conservatives republicans can use are very liberal, or could we have people over more moderate than party leaders? . .
>> but as a proportion of those who run, moderate and conformist and ideologues, is only 5% of conformist, 57% of ideologues 53% of moderate otherwise 81% conformist, 73% ideologues wherein the primary so it is hard to know if moderates would low -- would lose because they aren't running. but if you look at those who do run relatively moderate candidates are not suffering incredibly worse fate than
ideologues or conformist but it is hard to. we measure this two thank you for coming. does the need for research points to the media spotlight? >> none of them talked about media presence offhand but almost everyone universally thinks the media is partially to blame. if you ask members of congress with the fragmentation of the media so their impression is that matters but that transfers to their day today interactions or affect the
>> that is a good question had we better on -- measure conservative? so voting with democrats or republicans so they are not working together legislatively. most legislative action so the coalitions that we used to see that is the score and they are pretty much gone and then you see some democrats voting with republican on occasion and that's why they still show up in the data but you don't really see republicans voting with the democrats or vice
versa. >> and the senator from tennessee wire they not running for reelection? it's not because i don't thank you don't have a chance win. >> that is a good question. you would have a tough time to get out of the primary today. but there are examples almost all of the members who we spoke with who are retiring many have risen through the ranks i mean ten committee
chairman are retiring this year. they might have a tough battle that on average incumbents win almost all the time. i think they have a tough bid but they would pull through but certainly that is the case for some moderate and particularly the moderates of yesteryear relatively moderate candidates can position themselves just like a relatively moderate congresswoman from florida people like her, widely agreed upon the question as she would have won if she ran again but i don't necessarily think
there is as much as the moderates make us believe and then some recent evidence there has been a handful of studies because it was adopted with the intention with more moderate candidates and the idea as an activist to know who the nominees are. and all of the studies have shown at the congressional level and one of the interesting studies and most primary voters were unfamiliar with the ideology of the candidates running.