Coffee Hour: Legislative Speech and Geographic Representation

Friday, November 2, 2012 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
Refreshments are offered at 3:30 in the E. Willard Miller seminar room, 319 Walker Building. The lecture begins at 4:00 p.m. in the John J. Cahir Auditorium, 112 Walker Building.
"Legislative Speech and Geographic Representation"
(with a sidebar on the Big Data Social Science IGERT)

Systems for electing representative legislatures and parliaments differ first and foremost on whether they primarily partition voters by geography (through districts) or partisanship. This has wide-reaching theoretical implications for the incentives this gives politicians and the nature of representation produced, but empirical investigation is difficult. In this paper, I leverage data from the Penn State Legislative Speech Projects to develop measures of "georhetoricism" —attention to geographically-defined policy concerns. I use the quasi-experiment of the 1990s electoral reform in New Zealand, to demonstrate that electoral reforms do in fact have the anticipated theoretical impact on representation.

 Burt MonroeBurt Monroe is an associate professor of political science, affiliated faculty in the College of Information Sciences and Technology, director of the Quantitative Social Science Initiative (QuaSSI), and director of the Big Data Social Science IGERT at Penn State.
His research is in comparative politics, examining the impact of electoral and legislative institutions on political behavior and representation, and social science methodology, examining the development and application of statistical, computational, and visual techniques to social science problems. He leads the Penn State Legislative Speech Projects, a multidisciplinary set of projects to develop text analytics methods and extract insights about democratic representation from massive political speech records.