Invisible partisanship: A study of partisan bias in nonpartisan elections and its impact on local policies in California

2005 2005

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Abstract (summary)

The purpose of this study is to investigate whether or not nonpartisan election systems favor one political party over other partisan groups. In addition, the study investigates the implications of this partisan bias for local urban and school policies. The data are taken from 275 cities and 262 school districts, including Los Angeles and San Francisco and their school districts, in nine counties of southern and northern California.

The analysis demonstrates that nonpartisan elections are biased toward those who affiliated with the Republican party. Republicans are over-represented at the levels of candidacy and outcome as compared to their share over total registered voters. As a result, the extent of Republican control of city councils and school districts is also greater than the degree of their representation in registered voters. Besides, the study centers on the source of this Republican advantage. The nonpartisan electoral scheme itself seems to be at the center of this advantage, as it removes partisan cues from the ballot and diminishes the level of overall voter interest in the elections. In general, Republican advantage appears to have little to do with their personal attributes, endorsement, policy stance, or campaign spending.

The present study also demonstrates that this Republican electoral advantage is to be taken seriously in the discussion of local public policies. The nonpartisan election scheme that disproportionately helps Republicans win local legislative contests tends to shape city councils and school boards to produce conservative and pro-developmental local policies, as it places more Republicans with such political beliefs and policy preferences in local legislative offices.

Indexing (details)

Political science;
School administration
0615: Political science
0514: School administration
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Education; California; City council; Local policies; Nonpartisan elections; Partisanship; School board
Invisible partisanship: A study of partisan bias in nonpartisan elections and its impact on local policies in California
Ji, Chang-ho C.
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 66/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780542194528, 054219452X
Neiman, Max
University of California, Riverside
University location
United States -- California
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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