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  • Author: Marcus Noland, Eva (Yiwen) Zhang
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: By Election Day 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had killed 234,244 Americans and caused the sharpest macroeconomic downturn in US history. Hypothetical calculations using county-level electoral data show that in a “no pandemic” scenario or a scenario in which the severity of the pandemic was mitigated by 30 percent, Donald Trump would have lost the popular vote but won the electoral vote. In the 20 percent mitigation scenario, the electoral vote would have been tied, giving Trump a presumptive victory in the House of Representatives. For the second time in a row (and the third time since 2000), the candidate who lost the popular vote would have been elected president of the United States.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Elections, Donald Trump, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Maria Annala
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In 2020, President of the United States Donald Trump launched an unprecedented electoral manipulation campaign in an attempt to secure himself a second term in office regardless of what voters decided. This Working Paper seeks to answer three questions: What electoral manipulation methods did Trump use? In what ways were his methods similar to those used previously by other incumbents to interfere with elections in their respective countries? And in what ways did his methods resemble those of election meddling by foreign state actors? To answer the aforesaid questions, this paper seeks to develop a model to describe Trump’s electoral manipulation campaign. The paper finds that Trump used seven different methods: Disinformation, voter suppression, intimidation and violence, intraparty pressure, attacking government institutions, breaking democratic norms, and attempted collusion with one or more foreign states. While most of the methods were not new, their combination was unique. That was to be expected, as Trump was the first 21st century incumbent in a well-established Western democracy to undertake such a massive electoral manipulation campaign.
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, Violence, Voting, Misinformation , Election Interference
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mieke Eoyang
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Third Way
  • Abstract: In 2020, candidates and elected officials will face questions on national security and foreign policy issues. In this memo, we provide short talking points on these issues that acknowledge the concerns of Americans, critique current approaches and policies, and present a vision for the future: 1. Global Health Security, 2. China & COVID-19, 3. China Trade War, 4. Russia, 5. Terrorism, 6. Domestic Extremism, 7. Iran, 8. Election Security, 9. Saudi Arabia & Yemen, 10. Syria, 11. Alliances, 12. North Korea, 13. Cyberthreats, 14. Venezuela, 15. Afghanistan, 16. Forever War, 17. Border Security, 18. Defense Spending, 19. Impeachment, 20. Climate Change, 21. Corruption
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States, North America, Global Focus
  • Author: Maria Annala
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Voters’ trust in the American elections has eroded. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the United States, an alarming number of voters lacked confidence in the fairness of the upcoming elections. Ensuring that Americans can vote safely despite the pandemic requires major changes to how the elections are conducted. This increases the risk of mistakes and failures, partisan feuds over the rules, and accusations of foul play. If disputes over the practicalities of voting are prolonged, it could cause large-scale voter confusion and lead to a low turnout and high ballot rejection rates. Many voters are likely to vote by mail to protect themselves from the virus. However, few states are adequately prepared to receive a large percentage of their ballots by mail. To make matters worse, the United States Postal Service is on the brink of collapse. The result of the elections may be unclear for days or even weeks, firstly due to delays in counting the absentee ballots and thereafter because of litigation. This may result in both presidential candidates declaring themselves the winner and bring about an unprecedented constitutional crisis.
  • Topic: Elections, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Charly Salonius-Pasternak, Ville Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The US president has considerable power over the country’s foreign policy. The different worldviews espoused by President Trump and presidential candidate Biden are likely to have an impact on how the most significant foreign policy challenges of the coming years are addressed.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Elections, Party System
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Mariette Hagglund
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: A key issue dominating Iran’s foreign policy agenda is the future of the Iran nuclear deal with regard to the next US president. Non-state armed groups mark the core of Iran’s leverage in the region, but Iran is currently looking into diversifying its means of influence. Although Iran considers its non-aligned position a strength, it is also a weakness. In an otherwise interconnected world, where other regional powers enjoy partnerships with other states and can rely on external security guarantors, Iran remains alone. By being more integrated into regional cooperation and acknowledged as a regional player, Iran could better pursue its interests, but US attempts to isolate the country complicate any such efforts. In the greater superpower competition between the US and China, Iran is unlikely to choose a side despite its current “look East” policy, but may take opportunistic decisions.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Iran, Middle East, Asia, North America
  • Author: Jyrki Kallio
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Speculation is rife that China could take advantage of the potential confusion during the US presidential election and invade Taiwan. Although China has never relinquished the military option for resolving the Taiwan issue, there are sound reasons to downplay the risk of a military confrontation at the present time.
  • Topic: War, Military Strategy, Elections, Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Taiwan, Asia, North America
  • Author: Pavel Sharikov
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: This paper investigates differences in Russian and American approaches to challenges of the information age, and explores some destabilizing effects on bilateral relations. The governments and societies in Russia and the United States base political and economic decisions about the development and use of information technology on different principles; in a globalized, interconnected world Russia’s collectivistic approach clashes with American individualistic approach. This exacerbates numerous problems in Russia-U.S. relations, including reciprocal allegations of information attacks as a form of interference in domestic affairs. Alternative approaches to information-age dilemmas make Russia and the United States particularly sensitive to different ways of using information technology to impact electoral processes and domestic politics, with little understanding of each other’s narratives and national priorities.
  • Topic: Elections, Information Age, Disinformation, Election Interference
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Krševan Antun Dujmović
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: The presidential election in the United States, scheduled for November 3, are perceived by many as decisive for the future of America and the world as they will respond to the crucial question: Is the US strong enough to preserve a dominant position in the multipolar world in which old alliances are crumbling and new rivalries arise?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Elections, Election watch, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Frank Graves, Jeff Smith
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: Canada has not been left untouched by a new authoritarian, or ordered, populism that has seen the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president and the United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union. Based on measurements of public opinion and other means developed to assess the phenomenon, this paper finds that populism in Canada is a significant political force, replacing the traditional left-right political spectrum. Not only has northern populism created a heightened partisan polarization in Canada, but it also proved to be a strong predictor of the outcome of the 2019 federal election. The authors’ research shows that 34 per cent of Canadians maintain a populist outlook. Older, less-educated, working-class Canadians are the most likely to sympathize with ordered populism, and it is more prevalent in Alberta and Saskatchewan. It is also more closely aligned with Canadians whose political sympathies lie with conservative political parties. A number of factors have contributed to the rise of ordered populism. These include economic stagnation, the growing disparity between the wealthy and the middle and working classes, a sense that society is headed in the wrong direction and a backlash against the loss of traditional core values. Ordered populism rests on the belief in a corrupt elite, and the idea that power needs to be wrested from this elite and returned to the people. Oriented toward authoritarianism, ordered populism emphasizes obedience, hostility toward outgroups, a desire to turn back the clock to a time of greater order in society, and a search for a strongman type to lead the return to a better time. Nothing about ordered populism serves the public interest. Instead, its anti-democratic nature makes it incapable of solving the problems that spawned its rise in the first place. Ordered populism is xenophobic, mistrustful of science and journalism, and unsympathetic to equality and gender issues. Arising out of fear and anger, ordered populism is ultimately unhealthy for Western democracies and their societies and economies. Canada has yet to accord the rise of ordered populism the attention it deserves, although this paper explains why it is a critical force in this country that needs to be addressed. Currently, attitudes toward ordered populism are generally limited to sneering, derisiveness and denial, all of which do nothing to address the problem. Solving it requires understanding its roots. And if its origins lie in the collapse of the middle-class dream, then policy-makers will need to focus on creating a new economics of hope. Ordered populism is at the heart of stark divisions in Canada, and the 2019 federal election did little, if anything, to mend the rupture. Dissatisfaction with the election’s results could forecast an even worse polarization in the near future, and increase the appeal of authoritarianism, if populism is left unaddressed.
  • Topic: Politics, Authoritarianism, Elections, Populism, Ideology
  • Political Geography: Canada, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Cesare Merlini
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: As mail-in voting begins for the US November elections, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced plans to visit Pope Francis in Rome. The intent was anticipated in a critical article penned by Pompeo himself in First Things, the authoritative US journal of conservative Catholics. In it, Pompeo explained his visit as aimed at pressing the Vatican to halt its entente with China about the naming of bishops in that country, leading to angry rebukes and a warning that the Pope may in fact refuse to meet the incoming Secretary of State. A couple of weeks earlier, two normalisation agreements involving Israel and the Middle Eastern states of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates were signed with much pomp and fanfare at the White House. The name given to the agreements: The Abraham Accords. This follows Trump’s transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem in 2018. Donald Trump’s efforts to consolidate electoral support from religious groups is not surprising or new. This tactic was instrumental in his previous election in 2016. More recently, one can recall the photo-op at Christ Church, near the White House, with the Holy Bible in his right hand after having ordered the police to dispel Black-Lives-Matter protesters from the area. Or Trump’s decision to be the first sitting president to address the annual anti-abortion March for Life rally earlier this year.
  • Topic: Politics, Religion, Elections, Secularism
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Michael Barak
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: In this issue of Beehive, Michael Barak analyzes the reactions in the social media to the election of Joe Biden to the US Presidency among supporters and opponents of the Egyptian regime, including exiled dissidents. The growing probability of Joe Biden victory during the election week gained widespread attention on social media among Egyptian citizens and exiled dissidents. While al-Sisi’s supporters responded coldly, expressing concern about the tightening of the new administration’s policy towards the Egyptian regime, Egyptian exiled dissidents showed mixed feelings. On the one hand, there are those who express optimism, joy, and anticipation for a change of the American policy that they criticize for being sympathetic to the Egyptian regime. On the other hand, there are those who seek to cool the sense of euphoria, arguing that the American presidency does not intend to change its sympathetic attitude towards its traditional allies. Yet, some of the Egyptian exiled dissidents believe that this is the right time to erode the power of the Egyptian regime.
  • Topic: Politics, Elections, Social Media
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America, Egypt, United States of America
  • Author: Shawn K. McGuire, Charles B. Delahunt
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: Two decades of U.S. government legislative outcomes, as well as the policy preferences of highincome people, the general population, and diverse interest groups, were captured in a detailed dataset curated and analyzed by Gilens, Page et al. (2014). They found that the preferences of high-income earners correlated strongly with policy outcomes, while the preferences of the general population did not, except via a linkage with the preferences of high earners. Their analysis applied the tools of classical statistical inference, in particular logistic regression. In this paper we analyze the Gilens dataset using the complementary tools of Random Forest classifiers (RFs), from Machine Learning. We present two primary findings, concerning respectively prediction and inference: (i) Holdout test sets can be predicted with approximately 70% balanced accuracy by models that consult only the preferences of those in the 90th income percentile and a small number of powerful interest groups, as well as policy area labels. These results include retrodiction, where models trained on pre-1997 cases predicted “future” (post-1997) cases. The 20% gain in accuracy over baseline (chance), in this detailed but noisy dataset, indicates the high importance of a few distinct players in U.S. policy outcomes, and aligns with a body of research indicating that the U.S. government has significant plutocratic tendencies. (ii) The feature selection methods of RF models identify especially salient subsets of interest groups (economic players). These can be used to further investigate the dynamics of governmental policy making, and also offer an example of the potential value of RF feature selection methods for inference on datasets such as this one.
  • Topic: Political Economy, Elections, Public Policy, Money, Political Parties
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity (TCEI), an initiative of the Alliance of Democracies, aims to prevent election interference by advocating for increased transparency and by fighting the use of disinformation in campaigns. The TCEI is systematically assessing the adequacy of laws, policies and practices in democratic states so as to evaluate their electoral resilience and ability to preserve their elections’ integrity. The TCEI met in Ottawa in April to consider Canada’s performance in this regard. This report, the first in a series of Election Risk Monitors from CIGI and TCEI, was prepared as a foundation for that assessment. After reviewing a range of threats and Canada’s new laws, policies and investments designed to anticipate and respond to them, it documents strategies that the Canadian government has adopted at home, as well as its contributions to international efforts. Finally, it outlines the policy choices that lie ahead for Canada regarding the exploitation of social media platforms by malicious actors who have an interest in influencing Canadian elections.
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, Social Media, Election watch
  • Political Geography: Canada, North America
  • Author: Emily Blanchard, Chad P. Bown, Davin Chor
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Republican candidates lost support in the 2018 congressional election in counties more exposed to trade retaliation but saw no commensurate electoral gains from US tariff protection. The electoral losses were driven by retaliatory tariffs on agricultural products and were only partially mitigated by the US agricultural subsidies announced in summer 2018. Republicans also fared worse in counties that had seen recent gains in health insurance coverage, affirming the importance of health care as an election issue. A counterfactual calculation suggests that the trade war and health care can account for five and eight of Republicans' lost House seats, respectively.
  • Topic: Politics, Elections, Trade Wars, Trade, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Itai Brun, Tehilla Shwartz Altschuler
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: On April 18, 2019, the US Department of Justice released a redacted version of the full report (448 pages) submitted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller about Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential elections. The report consists of two parts: the first presents the outcome of the investigation into Russia’s involvement in the election and draws conclusions regarding the presence or absence of a conspiracy or illegal coordination between the Russians and the Trump campaign; the second part deals with President Trump’s possible obstruction of justice regarding the FBI investigation into the Russian intervention and the investigation by the Special Counsel himself. This essay deals with the first part, i.e., the results of the investigation into the connection between the Russians and Trump for the purpose of influencing the election results. The report reflects accurately the US criminal law that deals with conspiracy and illegal coordination regarding elections. At the same time, it exposes a gap in the nation’s conceptual, organizational, legal, and technological preparedness to confront the possibilities that the digital space provides to undermine – internally and externally – the democratic process. Israel suffers from the same gap, and it is therefore imperative that the state confront it before the next Knesset election.
  • Topic: Crime, Elections, Election Interference , Investigations
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Middle East, Israel, North America
  • Author: Sarah Baumunk, Richard Miles, Linnea Sandin, Mark Schneider, Mia Kazman
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: 2019 will be another pivotal year across the map in the Western Hemisphere. The region continues to battle several ongoing challenges: the Venezuelan crisis, the U.S.-Mexico bilateral relationship under new Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the rapid deterioration of Nicaragua, the fight for transparency in the Northern Triangle, and an uncertain economic horizon. Seven countries will hold national elections—Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, and Uruguay—each of which has the potential to affect domestic politics as well as geopolitical relations within the region.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Governance, Elections, Leadership, Election watch
  • Political Geography: South America, North America
  • Author: Judd Devermont
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: It is election season again in sub-Saharan Africa. Roughly every five years, the region faces a tidal wave of elections. In previous cycles, starting in the mid-1990s, the outcome was generally predictable. The ruling party leveraged its considerable advantages—including access to state resources—to secure another term. If the incumbent party rigged the poll, international monitors easily spotted the fraud and strenuously objected, even if to little effect. For the past two decades, five out of every six elections have produced the same result. This next batch of some two dozen elections will be different. A combination of demographic, technological, and geostrategic developments is disrupting the region’s electoral landscape. African leaders, opposition, and publics are adapting and writing a new playbook in the process. From street protests and parallel vote counts to election hacking and internet shutdowns, sub-Saharan African politics are becoming more competitive and more unpredictable. The case for democracy and improving the quality of elections is not simply a moral or altruistic one. U.S. national security objectives, including promoting prosperity and stability, are more achievable in democratic systems. Autocratic regimes, in contrast, worsen corruption, undercut sound economic management, and fail to produce long- term growth. Indeed, recent research indicates that Africa’s democracies grow at a faster rate than its autocracies, and this is more pronounced among countries that have been democracies for longer.1 Moreover, historically, democracies rarely have gone to war with one another. If the United States wants to advance its broad objectives in the region, it will need to reconceptualize its investments, partnerships, and interventions regarding elections.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Elections, Democracy, Election Interference
  • Political Geography: Africa, North America, United States of America, Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Author: Seth G. Jones
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: One of the most significant—and most disturbing—aspects of the Mueller report is the confirmation that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 election, based on the Special Counsel’s exhaustive collection and review of intelligence. This campaign by a foreign adversary represents a serious threat to U.S. national security and is reminiscent of Moscow’s actions during the Cold War. As this CSIS Brief highlights, Moscow has long conducted an “active measures” campaign against the United States, including trying to manipulate U.S. domestic politics. U.S. policymakers now need a forceful response to Russia’s intelligence campaign.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Law, Elections, Election Interference , Rigged Elections
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mary Speck
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, commonly known as AMLO, assumed office in December 2018 with a robust electoral mandate having trounced traditional parties and secured a clear majority in the Mexican Congress. With approval ratings at about 80 percent, López Obrador seems so far to be satisfying his supporters’ expectations.1 To the delight of those disgusted with elite privileges, AMLO flies commercial (in coach), plans to sell the presidential plane, and slashed the salaries of top officials (including his own), putting their government vehicles up for auction.2 He has acted quickly to redistribute wealth by increasing pensions for the elderly, offering scholarships or apprenticeships to millions of young people, and providing additional subsidies to marginalized small farmers.3 López Obrador has also solidified labor union support by reversing some of his predecessor’s most controversial “neo-liberal” measures. He suspended an education reform enacted to improve the country’s underperforming public schools.4 And he has started to undo an energy overhaul designed to modernize the state-dominated oil industry, promising workers that he will rescue the heavily indebted government company, Petróleos Mexicanos or Pemex, by investing billions in a new refinery to make the country self- sufficient in gasoline.5 But the new president still faces his toughest challenge: reducing violence in a country plagued by some of the world’s most vicious criminal gangs. About 230,000 people were murdered between 2008 and 2017, more than double the number killed in the previous decade.6 This tsunami of violence continues to crest: during the first quarter of 2019 homicides have risen nearly 10 percent from the same period in 2018.7 On security, Mexico’s radical new president has thus far offered more continuity than change. He favors the same top-down, militarized approach that failed to curb violence over the past decade. The government’s marquee security reform is the creation of a national guard with at least 50,000 members recruited largely from the armed forces. Under fire from human rights defenders, López Obrado agreed to place the force under the Secretariat of Security and Civilian Protection, though its commander will be General Luis Rodriguez Bucio, an active duty officer who is in the process of retiring.8 López Obrador has taken steps to address past atrocities (appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the 2014 killing of 43 students) and to prevent future abuses (signing an agreement with the UN to oversee the guard’s human rights training).9 But critics worry that a force led by and recruited from the military will simply reproduce past patterns of repression, gang fragmentation, and dispersion, followed by violent escalation. An iron-fist approach to crime, moreover, fails to address Mexico’s fundamental problem: rampant impunity. Government victimization surveys suggest that authorities fail to investigate more than 90 percent of the crimes committed, often because citizens don’t bother to report crimes to state or municipal police regarded as incompetent, impotent, or corrupt.10 More than a decade of federal military intervention has undermined, not strengthened, the country’s approximately 345,000 state and local police.11 Poorly trained, under-resourced, and often under threat themselves, municipal and state authorities have little incentive to combat Mexico’s increasingly diverse and localized criminal gangs. López Obrador must grapple with the reality that federal power alone is unlikely to bring violence under control. There is no populist playbook for building effective police and an efficient, fair judicial system. The criminal groups operating in Mexico have proven remarkably resilient, surviving the killing or arrest of cartel leaders by morphing into smaller factions that not only produce and transport illegal drugs for sale in the US market but also steal gasoline, derail and rob rail cars, run illegal mining and logging operations, and hold entire communities hostage to extortion and kidnapping rings. The United States has a huge stake in Mexico’s success: the criminal organizations responsible for rising violence in Mexico have also fueled a U.S. drug epidemic resulting in 72,000 fatal overdoses during 2017 alone. U.S. agencies have worked closely with Mexican police and military forces to capture drug kingpins; Congress has also appropriated nearly $3 billion in equipment, training, and capacity building assistance.12 This is only a fraction of the approximately $14 billion Mexico spends each year. But by accepting shared responsibility for the illegal drug trade—long a Mexican demand—the United States has secured cooperation on security issues that would have been unthinkable less than a generation ago. This article examines the evolution of security policy under Presidents Felipe Calderón, 2006-2012, and Enrique Peña Nieto, 2012-2018. López Obrador could learn much from his predecessors’ failures. Calderón began his term with a frontal attack on drug cartels, though he came to understand that Mexico could not control organized crime without social programs and institutional reforms. Peña Nieto initially promised demilitarization and violence prevention, but soon abandoned these efforts, reverting again to military intervention. Neither president strengthened the country’s embattled state and local police who are responsible for enforcing the law after federal troops depart.
  • Topic: Labor Issues, Elections, Unions, Liberalism
  • Political Geography: North America, Mexico