Democracy & Governance

Forthcoming
Jon Green, James N. Druckman, Matthew A. Baum, David Lazer, Katherine Ognyanova, and Roy H. Perlis. Forthcoming. “Depressive Symptoms and Conspiracy Beliefs.” Applied Cognitive Psychology.
Conspiratorial beliefs can endanger individuals and societies by increasing the likelihood of harmful behaviors such as the flouting of public health guidelines. While scholars have identified various correlates of conspiracy beliefs, one factor that has received scant attention is depressive symptoms. We use three large surveys to explore the connection between depression and conspiracy beliefs. We find a consistent association, with the extent of the relationship depending on individual and situational factors. Interestingly, those from relatively advantaged demographic groups (i.e., White, male, high income, educated) exhibit a stronger relationship between depression and conspiracy beliefs than those not from such groups. Furthermore, situational variables that ostensibly increase stress—such as having COVID‐19 or parenting during COVID‐19—exacerbate the relationship while those that seem to decrease stress, such as social support, vitiate it. The results provide insight about the development of targeted interventions and accentuate the need for theorizing about the mechanisms that lead depression to correlate with conspiracy beliefs.
2021
David Lazer, Jon Green, Katya Ognyanova, Matthew A. Baum, James N. Druckman, Roy H. Perlis, Mauricio Santillana, Matthew Simonson, and Ata Uslu. 7/27/2021. “People are more anti-vaccine if they got their COVID news from Facebook than from Fox News, data shows.” Washington Post Monkey Cage. Publisher's Version
2020
Roy Perlis, Matthew A. Baum, and Katherine Ognyanova. 11/23/2020. “Glaring Omission from Biden's COVID-19 Task Force: Mental Health Expertise.” STAT. Publisher's Version
David Lazer, Jonathan Green, Matthew A. Baum, Alexi Quintana Mathé, Katherine Ognyanova, Adina Gitomer, James N. Druckman, Matthew Simonson, Hanyu Chwe, Roy H. Perlis, Jennifer Lin, and Mauricio Santillana. 10/21/2020. “These nine swing states will see the biggest ‘blue shift’ as ballots are counted after the election.” The Washington Post Monkey Cage. Publisher's Version
Matthew A. Baum, David Lazer, Alexi Quintana, Roy Perlis, Katherine Ognyanova, James N. Druckman, John Della Volpe, and Mauricio Santillana. 7/20/2020. “How a Public Health Crisis Becomes a Public Trust Crisis.” Real Clear Politics. Publisher's Version
Irene Pasquetto, Matthew A. Baum, Eaman Jahani, and Alla Baranovsky. 5/27/2020. Understanding Misinformation on Mobile Instant Messengers (MIMs) in Developing Countries. Shorenstein Center. Cambridge: Harvard Kennedy School, Shorenstein Center of Media, Politics and Public Policy. Publisher's Version misinfo-on-mims-shorenstein-center-may-2020.pdf
Matthew A. Baum, Dara Kay Cohen, and Susanne Schwarz. 5/6/2020. “(Sex) Crime and Punishment: How Legally Irrelevant Details Influence Crime Reporting and Sanctioning Decisions.” Political Behavior. Publisher's Version
Recent prominent rape cases have raised concerns that the US exhibits a “culture of rape,” wherein victims are often disbelieved and blamed. We present an empirical conceptualization of rape culture, outlining four key features: blaming victims, empathizing with perpetrators, assuming the victims’ consent, and questioning victims’ credibility. In a series of experimental studies, we evaluate the relative impact of different types of rape culture biases on the reporting of rape, and how it is punished. We test how participants’ exposure to legally irrelevant details related to rape culture affects their decision-making. We find that exposure to certain details—relating to the victim’s consent and credibility—significantly decreasesparticipants’ propensities to recommend a rape case be reported to police or to advocate for a severe punishment for the perpetrator. The same biases do not emerge in robbery cases, suggesting that rape is regarded differently from other violent crimes.
sexcrimeandpunishment_polbehavior.pdf
Matthew A. Baum, Katherine Ognyanova, and David Lazer. 4/29/2020. “These Three Governors are Reopening Their States Faster than Their Voters Want: That's What Our Polling Found in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee.” The Washington Post Monkey Cage. Publisher's Version
2019
Matthew A. Baum, Dannagal G. Young, and Duncan Prettyman. 5/13/2019. “vMOBilize: Gamifying Civic Learning and Political Engagement in a Classroom Context.” Journal of Political Science Education. Publisher's Version

This study presents the results of a quasi-experiment (N= 307) conducted over the course of 10 weeks in Spring of 2016 to assess the effectiveness of a game platform designed to facilitate political engagement, attention, efficacy, knowledge, and participation among college students. Results indicate positive effects of gameplay on several key dimensions of political engagement, including voter registration, virtual political participation (following a candidate on Twitter, liking a candidate on Facebook, and watching debates), and consumption of public affairs information (including National Public Radio, non-NPR political talk radio, and online news aggregator sites). Additionally, gameplay provided significantly greater benefits to students with the lowest rates of political knowledge at baseline. Overall, participants reported high rates of game satisfaction, with 79% of participants reporting being very to somewhat pleased if they were asked to play the game again. These results are discussed in terms of the implications for civics education, pedagogy, and political engagement among young people.

vmobilize_jpe_preprint.pdf
Matthew Barreto, Chris Warshaw, Matthew A. Baum, Bryce J. Dietrich, Rebecca Goldstein, and Maya Sen. 4/22/2019. “New Research Shows Just How Badly a Citizenship Question Would Hurt the 2020 Census.” Washington Post Monkey Cage. Publisher's Version
2013
Matthew A. Baum and Tim Groeling. 2013. “Partisan News Before Fox: Newspaper Partisanship and Partisan Polarization, 1881-1972 ”. Publisher's Version
How do partisan media affect polarization and partisanship? The rise of Fox News, MSNBC, and hyper-partisan outlets online gives this question fresh salience, but in this paper, we argue that the question is actually not new: prior to the broadcast era, newspapers dominated American mass communication. Many of these were identified as supporting one party over the other in their news coverage. While scholars have studied the composition and impact of the partisan press during their 19th-century height, the political impact of the gradual decline of these partisan papers remains relatively under-examined. The unnoted vitality and endurance of partisan newspapers (which constituted a majority of American newspapers until the 1960s) represents a huge hole in our understanding of how parties communicate. As a consequence of this omission, scholars have ignored a potentially vital contributing factor to changing patterns of partisan voting. In this paper, we examine both the degree and influence of partisanship in historical newspapers. We begin by content analyzing news coverage in the Los Angeles Times from 1885-1986 and the Atlanta Constitution from 1869-1945. To avoid problems of selection bias and the absence of a neutral baseline of coverage in the coded news, we focus on a subset of partisan news for which we have access to neutral coverage of a full population of potential stories: the obituaries of U.S. Senators. By coding whether and how the papers covered the deaths of these partisans over time, we are able to systematically test for bias. We then collect information on newspaper editorial stances from Editor and Publisher’s Annual Yearbook to examine the impact of newspaper partisanship on voting patterns in presidential elections from 1932-92. Specifically, we test whether the proportion of partisan news outlets in a given media market explains changes in the rate of polarized voting.
Matthew A. Baum and Philip B. K. Potter. 2013. “Looking for Audience Costs in all the Wrong Places: Electoral Institutions, Media Access, and Democratic Constraint.” The Journal of Politics . Publisher's Version
For leaders to generate credibility through audience costs, there must be mechanisms in place that enable citizens to learn about foreign policy failures. However, scholars have paid relatively little attention to variations among democracies in the extent to which the public is able to obtain this sort of information. We argue here that electoral institutions play this role by influencing the number of major political parties in a country and, with it, the extent and depth of opposition to the executive. Opposition leads to whistle-blowing, which makes it more likely that that the public will actually hear about a leader’s foreign policy blunders. The effectiveness of this whistle-blowing, however, is conditional on the public’s access to the primary conduit for communication between leaders and citizens: the mass media. We test these expectations statistically, demonstrating that leaders in systems with these attributes fare better with respect to their threats and the reciprocation of conflicts that they initiate. These findings suggest that democracies are not automatically able to generate credibility through audience costs and that the domestic institutions and political processes that link the public and leaders must be taken seriously.
potterbaumjopsupplementalappendix.pdf potterbaumjop.pdf
2012
Matthew A. Baum. 2012. “The Iraq Coalition of the Willing and (Politically) Able: Party Systems, the Press, and Public Influence on Foreign Policy.” American Journal of Political Science . Publisher's Version
Media outlets in multiparty electoral systems tend to report on a wider range of policy issues than media in two-party systems. They thus make more competing policy frames available to citizens. This suggests that a “free press” is insufficient to hold governments accountable. Rather, we should observe more challenges to the governments’ preferred frames and more politically aware citizens in multiparty democracies. Such citizens should thus be better equipped to hold their leaders accountable, relative to their counterparts in two-party democracies. I propose a mechanism through which democratic publics can sometimes constrain their leaders in foreign policy. I test hypotheses derived from my theory with cross-national data on the content of news coverage of Iraq, on public support for the war, and on decisions to contribute troops to the Iraq “Coalition of the Willing.” I find that citizens in countries with larger numbers of parties confronted more critical and diverse coverage of Iraq, while those with more widespread access to mass media were more likely to oppose the war and their nations likely to contribute fewer troops to the Coalition.
cotwsupplemental_appendix_finalversion.pdf
2011
Matthew A. Baum. 2011. “Preaching to the Choir or Converting the Flock: Presidential Communication Strategies in the Age of Three Medias.” In iPolitics: Citizens, Elections, and Governing in the New Media Age. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press. Publisher's Version
2010
Matthew A. Baum, Ann Crigler, Marion Just, and Jesse Mills. 2010. “Emotions, the Horserace Metaphor and the 2008 Presidential Campaign”. Publisher's Version
Philip K. Potter and Matthew A. Baum. 2010. “Democratic Peace, Domestic Audience Costs, and Political Communication.” Political Communication . Publisher's Version

This article addresses a gap in the literature connecting the empirical observation of a democratic peace to a theoretical mechanism based on domestic audience costs. We argue that the link between these literatures lies in the way leaders reach he ultimate source of audience costs – the public. The audience cost argument implicitly requires a free press because, without it, the public has no way of reliably assessing the success or failure of a leader’s foreign policy. Hence leaders can credibly commit through audience costs only when the media is an effective and independent actor. The implication is that while leaders might gain at home by controlling the media, they do so at the cost of their capacity to persuade foreign leaders that their “hands are tied.”

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