Delegated Policymaking and Accountability
This research project concerns several hypotheses on how delegation affects the responsibility assessments of voters.
- Delegation will insulate elected officials from blame by voters for unpopular policy.
- When elected officials delegate, voters are less certain as to where those officials stand on the issue.
- Both effects of delegation will be strongest when there is greater uncertainty about the policy that will result from delegation.
- Delegation will diminish blame for unpopular policies more than it diminishes credit for popular ones.
Andrew Reeves and Jon Rogowski
Public Support for Unilateral Action
The research will consider the possibility that the public’s policy preferences could condition how citizens evaluate policy
outcomes on the basis of how they were achieved. For instance, citizens who support a particular policy may not be sensitive to the ways in which that policy is achieved, while citizens who oppose a particular policy may grant especially unfavorable evaluations when that policy is achieved through unilateral action than through the legislative, which may be believed to reflect
a more consensual, majoritarian political process. Answering this question has important theoretical stakes. If this hypothesis is correct, models of presidential behavior must be revised to account for how presidents accomplish policy outcomes,
and not just the outcomes themselves. A vast literature predicts that presidents take action based on public evaluations of the policies and the constraints provided by other institutional actors. Finding that the public penalizes presidents for acting unilaterally would provide evidence of the public’s ability to constrain presidential action. Existing literature does not generally recognize the capacity of the public to constrain presidential behavior, but instead suggests that the unilateral powers of the modern presidency have grown in response to public demand for more active presidents. On the other hand, if support is not found for this hypothesis, the results would suggest that the public has little capacity to reign in a president who seeks to wield greater power.
Immigration, Perceived Threats, and Partisanship
The previous literature on immigration attitudes most often frames threats related to immigration in either economic, cultural, or security terms. Economic threats refer to an individual’s perception of pocketbook or sociotropic economic conditions, while cultural threats portray immigration as endangering the national identity, and security threats emphasize local or nationwide crime levels. Although all three frames have been identified, there is no agreement about which of these frames dominates or how and why their respective relevance changes. The first goal is to simply determine, which of these perceptions of threat are most strongly associated with immigration? With no clear guidance from the literature, we remain agnostic about how
people on average view immigration, and which threat dominates this view, especially across countries. The second goal is to explore why and when certain types of threats are more strongly associated with immigration than others. Specifically, we are interested in building a profile of individual (and country) characteristics that are most strongly associated with each type of threat. Knowing which types of individuals under what conditions are most likely to perceive immigration as threat either to economy, culture or security will help in understanding (a) public responses to immigration-related developments, (b) designing immigration-related policies, (c) crafting party campaigns and reaching voters, etc.