The Institute of Governmental Studies is California's oldest public policy research center. As a component of the University of California, Berkeley, the Institute studies issues related to politics, public policy, and governance in California and throughout the United States. The Institute pursues a vigorous program of research, publications, student-oriented programming, and public events.
Conservationism is not Conservatism: Do Interest Group Endorsements Help Voters Hold Representatives Accountable?
Much research assumes that voters know or can learn the positions their representatives take on key issue. Arthur Lupia found that voters could learn such information through advertisements and interest group endorsements. We examine whether these cues improve voters’ ability to infer their representative’s voting behavior and find that most interest groups fail to do so. In a follow-up study, we find that voters are ignorant of which positions the interest groups take on issues. Finally, we run a similar experiment for representatives’ party affiliation and find that it is similarly uninformative; voters are unclear on where the parties stand on issues as well.
In today's American politics, there may be no place perceived as more "red"(Republican-voting) than the Lone Star State. Texas, the home of the Alamo, the gun rack,and the 72-ounce steak, hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since beforeRonald Reagan; George W. Bush won the state by over 20 percentage points, twice (ANES,2015). But demographic forces are changing the face of Texas, and it may not be long beforeits voting hue changes as well. Migration of African-Americans and Hispanics in search ofwork, and differential birth rates in those populations, have made Texas a majority-minoritystate, and state population growth is expected to come almost entirely from minoritypopulations. From 2010-2014, Hispanic population rose by 9.4%, African-American by 8.9%,and White non-Hispanic by just 2.6% (U.S. Census, 2015). Despite voter ID laws aimed atdisenfranchising minority voters, the trend lines are clear; it is only a matter of time beforeTexas becomes more likely to vote for a Democrat than a Republican for president. Onemitigating factor is that Hispanics typically have low voting rates, but in other border stateslike Arizona and New Mexico, anti-immigrant rhetoric has helped encourage turnout amongHispanic voters, which could accelerate the transition. The Republicans would bewell-advised to remember the Alamo, where poor treatment caused an immigrant populationto join the revolution against the ruling party.
Although the Bracero program ended in 1964, migration did not start nor end there. The history of Indigenous migration is one that has resulted in complex transborder identities and communities. The identities and migration of Oaxaqueñxs is a key focus throughout this project as I seek to elevate the stories of this Indigenous community. This study seeks to close the gap in existing literature that links Oaxaqueñxs’ demographics in farm labor to the Bracero Program through the lens of legal consciousness. My research question is: How does the legal consciousness of the Oaxaqueñxs reflect their roots in migration? By looking at migration as a catalyst for identity, I used the following sub-questions: (1) How and to what extent has the Bracero Program shaped how Oaxaqueñxs relate to the American legal system?; (2) How and to what extent do Oaxaqueñx farmworkers believe the Bracero Program shaped their political, economic, and “legal” identity?; (3) How and to what extent has the migration shaped the transborder identities of Oaxaqueñxs in California?; (4) How and to what extent do Oaxaqueñxs identify with the political community in Los Angeles, OaxaCalifornia?; and (5) How and to what extent do Oaxaqueñxs understand themselves to be Californians (or citizens of California) legally and politically? To answer these complex questions, I conducted semi-structured interviews with Oaxaqueñxs in California, specifically farmworkers, organization leaders, and people with ties to the Bracero Program, to the Central Valley, and Los Angeles. This study finds that as a result of immigration status, membership in Oaxaca, and employment history Oaxaqueñx carry unique struggles and legal consciousness. This research points out the importance of Indigenous organizations, a comprehensive citizenship pathway, and the complex “legal” identity of transborder Indigenous migrants. Ultimately, this project is crucial in highlighting the crucial needs of Oaxaqueñx in policies, law, and organizations by showcasing how they navigate their lives and the law.
City planners are engaging productively with the goals of the regional Sustainable Communities Strategies (SCSs) under California’s Senate Bill 375 (2008), but more staff and technical assistance, particularly for financing mechanisms, is needed. Infill housing to reduce commute distances is a critical component of addressing regional vehicle miles traveled. Yet, bike and pedestrian infrastructure is communities’ highest priority for retrofitting existing neighborhoods and setting the stage for future compact development. However, in places where cooperation among jurisdictions exists, particularly with leadership from multicity agencies, multifamily housing is shown to be a higher priority. This suggests a need for finding ways to promote cooperation between cities on SB 375 implementation. One way that this is already happening is through multicity organizations such as county transportation authorities and councils of governments that represent multiple cities and towns within a county. Recommendations include increasing capacity and technical assistance for such partnerships, while expanding funding and incentives for compact development in urban areas and suburbs.
Displacement in San Mateo County, California: Consequences for Housing, Neighborhoods, Quality of Life, and Health
In metropolitan regions across the country, residents face constrained, expensive housing markets and rising income inequality. Middle- and high-income households are beginning to seek more affordable housing in accessible neighborhoods with traditionally lower rents and proximity to jobs and transportation. Many low-income households are simply unable to secure affordable rents. As neighborhoods change and housing demand shifts, landlords are presented with a new set of financial prospects. Displacement and evictions are central components of this changing landscape, altering the geography of race and class across regions. Recent studies have found a spike in evictions in San Mateo County, disproportionately affecting people of color.
There is relatively little research on the impacts of displacement on households, individuals, and communities. Existing research has shown that evictions negatively affect the health, quality of life, and economic outlook for households, often with long-term consequences. This study contributes to this small but growing body of research, with results specific to local Bay Area conditions. We assess the relationship between displacement and housing costs and quality, commutes, neighborhood location and quality, mental and physical health, and healthcare access. We completed in-depth phone surveys with 100 primarily low-income tenants who received services from Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto (CLSEPA), which serves low-income communities in San Mateo County. Survey respondents live in and/or were displaced from San Mateo County communities. These surveys provide a window into the consequences of displacement for households in the San Francisco Bay Area, with implications for researchers and policymakers both locally and across the nation.