Working Papers

We clarify the theoretical foundations of partisan fairness standards for district-based democratic electoral systems, including essential assumptions and definitions that have not been formalized or in some cases even discussed. We pare assumptions down to their minimal essential components and add extensive empirical evidence for those with observable implications. Throughout, we follow a fundamental prin- ciple of statistics too often ignored — defining the quantity of interest separately so its measures are vulnerable to being proven wrong, evaluated, and improved. This enables us to prove which approaches — claimed in the literature to be estimators of partisan symmetry, the most widely accepted standard — are statistically appro- priate and which are biased, limited, or not measures of symmetry at all. Because real world redistricting involves complicated politics with numerous participants and conflicting goals, measures biased for partisan fairness sometimes still provide useful descriptions of other aspects of electoral systems.

Analyzing the Censoring Problem in U.S. Federal Campaign Finance Data (with R.Micheal Alvarez and Seo-young Silvia Kim)

Inferences about individual campaign contributors are limited by how the Federal Election Commission (FEC) collects and reports data. Only transactions that exceed a cycle-to- date total of $200 are individually disclosed, so the contribution histories of many donors are unobserved. We contrast visible donors and “hidden donors,” i.e., small donors who become invisible due to censoring and routinely ignored in existing research. We use the Sanders presidential campaign in 2016, whose unique campaign structure received money only through an intermediary committee, which is governed by stricter disclosure statutes, allowing us to study hidden donors. We show that there are many hidden donors, and they are more likely to be social and ethnic minorities. Hidden donors start giving relatively later, with contributions concentrated around early primaries, suggesting different interests or contribution incentives. We conclude that because of this censoring problem, the donor population may be quite different than found in previous research.
Prior literature uses portfolio analysis to document anomalies of the efficient market hypothesis (EMH). We argue portfolio analysis introduces an aggregation bias and clouds inferences about firm-level stock price behavior. We demonstrate this point in the context of the Post-Earnings Announcement Drift (PEAD), a well-known anomaly of the EMH. After replicating the PEAD portfolio analysis, we disaggregate the PEAD portfolios and find anomalies within the PEAD anomaly. Results of our analysis raise concerns over whether the PEAD exists at disaggregated levels, firms’ prices actually drift in the direction of earnings news, and whether the PEAD is an anomaly of the EMH or just an artifact of aggregation.
Caltech Social Science Working Paper #1266. There are many examples of allocation problems where the final allocation affects more than one agent, but the models developed to study them typically allow for side payments between agent. However, there are political economy applications where it is hard to imagine monetary transfers between the agents, at least not legal ones. In this paper we propose a general political economic framework for the study of allocation problems with externalities without side payments. We consider a setup with complete information and we formulate the problem as one where the status quo describes an initial allocation that can altered in a sequence of proposals. The number of these proposals is restricted. In the context of our main application, bidding for slots on a legislative agenda, such restriction can be interpreted as scarcity of plenary time for considering the possible bills to move the policy. The intuition for our model comes out of framing the problem as a special type of a multi-good auction. We show that equilibria generically exist within the general model.
Caltech Social Science Working Paper #1267R. Since the passage of he “Help America Vote Act” in 2002, nearly half of the states have adopted a variety of new identification requirements for voter registration and participation by the 2006 general election. There has been little analysis of whether these requirements reduce voter participation, espe- cially among certain classes of voters. In this paper we document the effect of voter identification requirements on registered voters as they were imposed in states in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, and in the 2002 and 2006 midterm elections. Looking first at trends in the aggregate data, we find no evidence that voter identification requirements reduce participation. Using individual-level data from the Current Population Survey across these elections, however, we find that the strictest forms of voter identification re- quirements — combination requirements of presenting an identification card and positively matching one’s signature with a signature either on file or on the identification card, as well as requirements to show picture identification — have a negative impact on the participation of registered voters relative to the weakest requirement, stating one’s name. We also find find evidence that the stricter voter identification requirements depress turnout to a greater ex- tent for less educated and lower income populations, but no racial differences.