Research

In my research, I evaluate the extent to which elections serve as a mechanism for accountability and representation. Below are the titles and abstracts of my publications and other recent research. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like the most recent versions of these manuscripts.


The Responsiveness of Direct and Indirect Elections ~ Download
By Steven Rogers ~ Legislative Studies Quarterly
Abstract: Previous research argues the Seventeenth Amendment made Senate elections more responsive. To make this claim, existing work compares the vote-seat relationships of direct and indirect elections before and after the Seventeenth Amendment. I argue this approach is problematic because it does not account for regional variation and compares elections from different time periods using presidential instead of Senate vote. I overcome these problems by simulating indirect elections using state legislatures' partisan compositions to evaluate the responsiveness of direct and indirect elections after the Seventeenth Amendment. With this counterfactual approach, my findings suggest direct elections are not necessary for electoral responsiveness.

A Primary Cause of Partisanship? Nomination Systems and Legislator Ideology ~ Download ~ American Journal of Political Science
By Eric McGhee, Seth Masket, Boris Shor, Steven Rogers, and Nolan McCarty
Abstract: Many theoretical and empirical accounts of representation argue for the polarizing influence of primary elections.  Likewise, many reformers advocate opening party nominations to non-members as a way of increasing the number of moderate elected officials.  However, data and measurement constraints have limited the range of empirical tests for this effect.  We marry a unique new data set of state legislator ideal points to a detailed accounting of primary systems in the United States to gauge the effect of primary systems on polarization.  The results suggest that the openness of a primary election has little, if any, effect on the extremity of the politicians it produces.  We discuss the implications of our study for the literature on American political parties.

Robo-Polls: Taking Cues from Traditional Sources? ~ Download
By Joshua D. Clinton & Steven Rogers ~ PS: Political Science & Politics
Abstract: After the 2012 Republican New Hampshire primary, there were 159 poll results released prior to the subsequent nomination contests. More than two-thirds of these polls relied on "Interactive Voice Recognition" (IVR) software. In this research note, we evaluate the ability of polls to predict the vote-share for the Republican candidates Romney, Santorum and Gingrich. We find no difference in the average accuracy of IVR and traditional human polls, but IVR polls conducted prior to human polls do significantly worse than traditional human polls even after controlling for characteristics of the states, polls, and electoral environment. These findings provide suggestive evidence that pollsters may take cues from one another given the stakes involved. If so, reported polls should not be assumed to be independent of one another and so-called "poll-of-polls" will therefore be misleadingly precise.

Strategic Challenger Entry in a Federal System ~ Download
By Steven Rogers ~ Legislative Studies Quarterly
Abstract: Over a third of state legislators do not face challengers when seeking reelection. Existing analyses of state legislative contestation almost exclusively focus on the stable institutional features surrounding elections and ignore conditions that change between elections. I remedy this oversight by investigating how political contexts influence challenger entry. State legislators—particularly members of the governor's party—more often face opposition during weak state economies, but the president's copartisans are even more likely to receive a challenger when the president is unpopular. My findings suggest that both national- and state-level political conditions have an important impact on challengers' entry strategies.

Term Limits: Keeping Incumbents in Office ~ Download
By Steven Rogers
Abstract: Over twenty states enacted legislative term limits in the 1990s hoping to diminish the powers of incumbency. Term limits forced thousands of state legislators from office, but term limits' effects on electoral completion are largely unclear. Prior research on single states provides mixed results and fails to consider how term limits affect competition within states. To provide a fuller understanding of how term limits affect state legislative competition, I investigate differences in challenger entry, challenger fundraising, and the incumbency advantage across states with and without term limits, and I uniquely assess the extent to which incumbents face weaker electoral competition as they approach their term limit. I discover that as incumbents approach their final term, they face weaker challengers and enjoy a larger incumbency advantage, suggesting potential opposition candidates strategically wait for seats opened by term limits.

Coattails, Raincoats, and Congressional Election Outcomes ~ Download
By Steven Rogers
Abstract: Drawing upon recent analyses of voter turnout, I employ a new identification strategy to investigate "surge and decline" accounts of presidential coattails in congressional elections. I show that as the costs of voting increases -- due to rainfall on Election Day -- the strength of the relationship between county-level presidential and congressional voting weakens. This result suggests who turns out to vote matters for the strength of presidential coattails. I find evidence that certain types of voters "surge'' to the polls when there are greater net benefits to voting but "decline" to turn out otherwise.