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Essays on Public Policy, Representation, Accountability, and Elections


The three papers in this dissertation examine public policy, representation, accountability, and elections. The first paper studies the effects of two New Deal-era economic relief programs on voting behavior. I find that voters rewarded the Democratic Party for providing direct economic benefits, but not for indirect beliefs delivered through the private sector. The paper suggests that policy, and policy design, influences voting behavior. The second paper tests whether city governments are more responsive to certain demographic or economic groups at the expense of others. To study this, I collect 25 million citizen-initiated 311 calls for city goods and services, and find that cities respond marginally faster to calls from high-income and white neighborhoods. The third paper tests the effects of a popular electoral policy reform --- independent redistricting commissions --- on electoral competition in U.S. House and state legislative elections. I compare competition under the enacted districts to competition under simulated districts as well as competition under a set of of district maps that were considered but not enacted. I find that districts drawn by partisan legislators are just as competitive as those drawn by nonpartisan commissions.

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