Posts by Collection



Closing Down and Cashing In: Extremism and Political Fundraising

Published in State Politics and Policy Quarterly, 2017

Can politically polarizing events bear dividends for extremist lawmakers? Evidence from California legislative financial disclosures suggests they can. During the state’s numerous budget shutdowns of the last 30 years, extremist legislators outside their party median could expect greater fund-raising hauls than their more centrist counterparts. The results suggest that polarizing events such as California’s perennial budget impasses can make extremist positions more appealing to the polarized political elites who generally fund political campaigns. Regardless of the motivation, however, these results suggest a strong incentive to prolong political discord by extremists—a troubling outcome in cases where supermajority votes are required.

Recommended citation: Oklobdzija, S. (2017). Closing Down and Cashing In: Extremism and Political Fundraising. State Politics & Policy Quarterly, 17(2), 201–224.

When Campaigns Call, Who Answers? Using Observational Data to Enrich our Understanding of Phone Mobilization.

Published in Electoral Studies, 2019

For decades, campaigns have used phone calls to move voters to the polls. Political scientists have made great strides using field experiments to study whether campaign calls effectively increase turnout. However, due in part to limited access to observational data, some of the most basic questions about this mobilization strategy have gone overlooked. In this paper, we take a step back to provide a rich descriptive analysis of a novel dataset of millions of campaign phone calls made in California during the 2016 election. We use this dataset to shed light on three important questions: Whom do campaigns call? When campaigns call, who answers? Are those who answer more likely to turn out to vote? Our analysis reveals patterns consistent with previous theories, but also sheds light on new patterns. For example, we find that about two-thirds of campaign calls are to landlines, but those who are called on a mobile phone are twice as likely to answer. We conclude by using a matching analysis to examine the relationship between answering the phone and turning out to vote. We find that those who answer the phone are 5.9–6.8 percentage points more likely to turn out to vote. The rich descriptive analysis included in this paper provides empirical validation of prior theories of campaign mobilization, and opens avenues for future field experiment research.

Recommended citation: Abrajano, M., Carlson, T. N., Bedolla, L. G., Oklobdzija, S., & Turney, S. (2019). When campaigns call, who answers? Using observational data to enrich our understanding of phone mobilization. Electoral Studies.

Public Positions, Private Giving: Dark Money and Political Donors in the Digital Age

Published in Research and Politics, 2019

Dark money—campaign funds raised by 501(c)(4) designated non-profit corporations whose donors are exempt from disclosure—has become an increasingly large fraction of outside spending in American elections at both the state and the federal level. This paper makes use of the only publicly available donor list for a dark money group in existence today—that of “Americans for Job Security,” who contributed $11 million to two conservative-leaning ballot initiative campaigns in California during the 2012 elections. In comparing the ideological scores of donors of this dark money group to traditional donors to the two conservative propositions, I find a strong liberal tilt of donors to Americans for Job Security—indicating a social pressures motivation behind concealing one’s donation via a dark money group. These results also show disclosure laws have an effect on a donor’s calculus to contribute to a political cause.

Recommended citation: Oklobdzija, S. (2019). Public positions, private giving: Dark money and political donors in the Digital Age. Research & Politics.