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RIBC Research News and Papers

Research Intensive Bachelor’s Certificate Program Researchers Present at the Southern Political Science Association Meetings

Five students from the Political Science Research Intensive Bachelor’s Certificate (RIBC) Program at Florida State University presented their original research at the Southern Political Science Association Meetings held in New Orleans January 5th through the 9th.   The annual conference attracted nearly 900 political science faculty and graduate students from across the nation. "The SPSA conference was an amazing opportunity to network with scholars in the field and talk about our research as if we were already colleagues." said presenter Amanda Fildago.

Students developed their papers as part of their curriculum for the RIBC program in political science which emphasizes high quality research training and hands-on experience conducting empirical social science research. Recent certificate graduate Kristen Holder felt this was a wonderful capstone for her experience in the program: “Attending the SPSA conference in New Orleans was the most rewarding experience of my undergraduate career. It gave me the opportunity to witness cutting edge research first hand and the honor of presenting my own work."


Amanda Fidalgo “Federalism and Human Rights: A Comparative Analysis” paper presented at the Southern Political Science Association Meetings, January 5 – 9th, New Orleans, LA.

Federalism has been suggested and used as a solution for countries wishing to quell ethnic conflict, such as Canada. But, how well do federalist governments actually do at protecting human rights? There are several major arguments to be made. One argument is based on the division of power in federalist nations. Local governments are closer to the people and are therefore more likely to protect human rights than large national governments. The second argument is that federalism impedes human rights policy because an excess of checks and balances slow the development and implementation of human rights legislation. In this paper, I will test the hypotheses by looking at comparing four cases, two unitary nations and two federalist nations. I will attempt to pinpoint what level of government controls human rights policy and whether or not that level has been effective. I compare the federalist democracies of Argentina and South Africa to their similar non-federalist neighbors Chile and Botswana to get a better idea of how each form of government was able to deal with similar human rights crisis.

Kristen Holder “The Effect of Environmental Audit Protection on Firm Compliance” paper presented at the Southern Political Science Association Meetings, January 5 – 9th, New Orleans, LA.

Over the past two decades, there has been a gradual shift in environmental politics from strict federal control to an increasingly market-driven approach in regulatory enforcement. One approach introduced is the ability for private business to perform environmental self-audits with the promise of certain protections over the information self reported. Environmental audit protection incentivizes private business to perform environmental self-audits and enter back into compliance with environmental regulations by ensuring state protections over the information voluntarily reported. My research examines the effect of environmental audit protection upon the current compliance of firms to the Clean Air Act regulations under the EPA or other state agencies. I find that counties within states with environmental audit protection have the statistically significant combined effect of a higher percentage of violating firms due to self-audits but a lower percentage of formal enforcement actions due to self-corrections compared to counties within states without environmental audit protection. From my research I conclude that it is very likely that environmental audit protection is having a positive effect on overall firm compliance to the Clean Air Act.

Gabriella Lloyd  “Governmental Congruence in Majoritarian and Proportional Representation Electoral Systems” (with Matt Golder) paper presented at the Southern Political Science Association Meetings, January 5 – 9th, New Orleans, LA.

Two recent studies (Blais & Bodet 2006, Golder & Stramski 2010) have challenged the prevailing scholarly consensus that proportional representation (PR) electoral systems produce greater government ideological congruence than majoritarian systems. By doing so, they have generated what has become known as the “ideological congruence controversy”. Recently, Powell (2009) claims to resolve the controversy. Specifically, he argues that the challenging results from the two most recent studies are based on an anomalous decade and that PR systems generally do produce greater government ideological congruence. In addition to claiming that PR systems enjoy a higher level of government ideological congruence, Powell also asserts that PR systems exhibit less variation in government ideological congruence. In this paper, we re-examine the evidence for the two claims made by Powell. Using exactly the same data as employed by Powell and a variety of statistical analyses, we find almost no evidence that PR systems outperform majoritarian ones. Results from a heteroskedastic regression model also indicate that electoral rules have no significant effect on the variability of government ideological congruence. Overall, our evidence suggests that although PR systems produce better representation in the legislature, they do not hold an advantage when it comes to representation at the governmental level.

David Meder “Political Satire and Candidate Evaluations in the 2008 Election” paper presented at the Southern Political Science Association Meetings, January 5 – 9th, New Orleans, LA.

In recent years, many American voters have turned to “political satire” shows for information about presidential candidates. The intention of this study is to isolate this particular type of media input to determine the relationship, if any, between viewership and candidate evaluations of Barack Obama and John McCain in the 2008 American presidential election. I argue that political satire operates differently than traditional American media sources. The integration of political content and humor alters several previous assumptions about the formation of candidate evaluations. Recent literature suggests that information that is presented humorously operates on a different cognitive route, which would suggest that the persuasive inputs of a political satire show could reduce counterargument scrutiny and increase information recall. Based on this mechanism, and the assumption that political satire shows tend to have a liberal bias, I theorize that increasing viewership of political satire shows will promote more favorable evaluations for Obama and more unfavorable evaluations for McCain.

Cesar Sandoval “Asylum Acceptance Rates in the United States after 9-11” paper presented at the Southern Political Science Association Meetings, January 5 – 9th, New Orleans, LA.

Have the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and the ensuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq changed the way the United States deals with asylum seeking applicants? While the policy of asylum protection is by design a purely humanitarian policy, past research has shown that at times a state’s interest with respect to the applicant’s country of origin is also taken into consideration and at times those interests may supersede humanitarian concern. The policy of asylum is an appropriate platform from which to study the norms versus interests debate within international relations. This paper, an extension and replication of the Rosenblum and Salehyan (2004) study which found asylum acceptance from 1983-1998, focuses on the years 2001-2008 to see how asylum acceptance has changed with the state being in a direct war and the ramifications of the Patriot Act. While human rights abuse still plays a factor when it comes to decision making by the state, this study finds that in the post 9-11 world the U.S. also considers whether the country of origin is a Muslim-majority country and whether it is a substantial source of undocumented migrants. U.S. asylum grants appear to be overshadowed by the fear of accepting a “would-be terrorist” or a “bogus refugee.”