Elisabeth R. Gerber

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Despite the centrality of the median voter prediction in political economy models, overwhelming empirical evidence shows that legislators regularly take positions that diverge significantly from the preferences of the median voter in their districts. However, all these empirical studies to date lack the necessary data to directly measure the preferences of(More)
U.S. cities are limited in their ability to set policy. Can these constraints mute the impact of mayors' partisanship on policy outcomes? We hypothesize that mayoral partisanship will more strongly affect outcomes in policy areas where there is less shared authority between local, state, and federal governments. To test this hypothesis, we create a novel(More)
This article explores the benefits and costs of the voter initiative, a direct democracy device that allows policy decisions to be made by voters rather than their elected representatives. Previous research suggests that by introducing " competition " into the proposal process, the initiative leads to policies that are closer to the median voter's ideal(More)
Surveys provide widely cited measures of political knowledge. Do seemingly arbitrary features of survey interviews affect their validity? Our answer comes from experiments embedded in a representative survey of over 1200 Americans. A control group was asked political knowledge questions in a typical survey context. Treatment groups received the questions in(More)
We thank participants in the Interdisciplinary Workshop on Politics and Policy at the University of Michigan's Center for Political Studies. We are particularly grateful for advice given by Charles Shipan and his graduate class, Abstract Some states treat a same-sex marriage as legally equal to a marriage between a man and a woman. Other states prohibit(More)
Do news organizations purposefully lead the public to support a particular ideological agenda? When debating this question, many analysts draw conclusions from weak empirical evidence. We introduce a model that clarifies how a news organization's internal structure combines with market forces to affect when it can lead public opinion. We identify conditions(More)
This research addresses two interrelated questions about direct democracy: How does direct democracy affect public policy? And why do citizens and interest groups sometimes pursue policy change through direct democracy? We study these questions by testing for differences between urban growth boundaries (UGBs) that were enacted by city councils and by direct(More)
In many states and localities, citizens make laws by initiative. Many winning initiatives, however, are later ignored or altered substantially. Why? Our answer emerges from two underappreciated aspects of the initiative process. First, many initiatives contain policies that powerful governmental actors once prevented from passing via traditional legislative(More)
To counter the power of pro-development interests, growth opponents in American communities have increasingly turned to the institutions of direct democracy. This study analyses the effects of one type of direct democracy—voter requirements for new development—on municipal growth. Analysing data from a sample of California communities, we consider the(More)