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  • Author: Natalie Schwehr, Giovann Alarcon, Lacey Hartman
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: We examined the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on healthcare coverage, access, health status, and affordability, as well as disparities in these outcomes by race/ethnicity among low-income Californians. We used nationally representative survey data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey 2011-2019 and a difference-in-differences approach that compared California with nonexpansion states. We examined the impact of Medicaid expansion on health insurance coverage, having a usual source of care, self-reported health status, frequent (≥14) unhealthy days in the past month (physical, mental, and both), and foregone care due to cost. The sample population included low-income Californians (<100% of the federal poverty guidelines) aged 19-64 and low-income childless adults. Low-income adults, childless adults, and white childless adults in California saw post-ACA gains in six of seven outcomes, including a 7.7 percentage point increase in having a usual source of care for all low-income adults (CI: 0.051 to 0.104). Childless adult people of color (POC) reported significant improvements in three measures, with a 6.6 percentage point increase in having a usual source of care (CI: 0.013 to 0.120). All of the groups we examined had coverage gains, ranging from 3.9 percentage points for all low-income adults (CI: 0.013 0.066) to 8.4 percentage points for white childless adults (CI: 0.025 to 0.143). Additionally, all groups reported improved mental health, including an 8.2 percentage point decrease in frequent mental distress for childless adults (CI: -0.120 to -0.044). These findings indicate that the ACA coverage expansion benefitted the targeted population of low-income Californians. Additionally, the disparity between white and non-white Californians decreased for the unadjusted mean rate of having a usual source of care. However, unadjusted means showed that white low-income adults remained more likely to have health insurance coverage and a usual source of care compared with POC in both California and nonexpansion states.
  • Topic: Health, Minorities, Health Care Policy, Public Health, Medicaid, Medicine
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Stephanie DeMora, Melissa Michelson
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: The decennial U.S. Census is intended to generate an accurate count of the population for use in allocating seats in the House of Representatives and distributing federal funds. However, individuals are less likely to complete the Census if they have privacy and confidentiality concerns. Previous research conducted on behalf of the U.S. government found that reassurances of confidentiality increased participation but not for items asking for sensitive information. In March 2018, the Trump administration announced its intention to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, raising concerns that the citizenship question might reduce participation among members of mixed-status households. In October and November 2018, while a legal challenge to the question was pending, we worked with three partner organizations within a faith-based non-profit community network to explore how best to encourage participation in the 2020 Census in hard-to-count populations in Southern California. Using a randomized field experiment with messages delivered using face-to-face canvassers, we find limited evidence that reassurances from the community organization about the confidentiality of information provided to the Census Bureau increased intent to participate in communities.
  • Topic: Governance, Population, Census, Representation, Transparency, Participation
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Sue Burrell, Shannan Wilber
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented and ongoing calamity, laying bare the vulnerabilities of California’s public health and emergency response systems. Although youth confined in juvenile detention facilities are among those at highest risk of suffering from the effects of the virus, the plight of these young people has been largely invisible to the public and overlooked by the state. This article describes the unique dangers posed by the coronavirus to youth incarcerated in county-run detention facilities in California. It summarizes the policies and procedures necessary to protect the health and well-being of detained youth based on the recommendations of public health officials and youth justice stakeholders nationally. It then describes the county and state agencies whose coordinated action is essential to respond to COVID-19, the efforts of the authors and other California advocates to urge these government stakeholders to implement essential health and safety protocols, and the obstacles and challenges encountered. Those efforts met with a range of responses ranging from lack of certainty about authority to act to non-responsiveness. As a result, California failed to provide systematic guidelines for releasing youth from custody, proactively oversee conditions in detention facilities, report data in meaningful ways, or respond to concerns and complaints from youth and families. The article, finally, draws on the experiences of the past year and a half to offer recommendations for the systemic changes necessary to prepare for the next pandemic or similar public health emergency.
  • Topic: Governance, Youth, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Seth Hill, Thad Kousser, Gabriel Lenz, Mackenzie Lockhart, Elizabeth Mitchell
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: How can we increase voter turnout among low-propensity voters? Researchers and practitioners have found interventions that increase voter turnout, but these interventions tend to increase turnout among individuals already likely to vote, and therefore appear to exacerbate existing inequalities in participation. This project developed and tested an intervention designed to encourage people with a lower prior likelihood of voting into the electorate. First, in summer 2018, we surveyed a diverse sample of voting and non-voting Californians about their political attitudes. We concluded that feeling inadequately informed and feeling inefficacious may contribute to low turnout rates. Based on the results of the survey, we designed messages to address these feelings and tested them in an experiment to increase turnout in two special elections in June 2019 by targeting these sentiments among people with infrequent prior turnout records. Letters with information and encouragement about the voting process did not increase turnout in the subsequent election. We conclude that further work is needed to identify interventions that successfully increase turnout among low-propensity voters.
  • Topic: Elections, Voting, Participation, Turnout
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Eric McGhee, Mindy Romero, Laura Daly
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: In its first year of implementation, did the Voter’s Choice Act (VCA) change turnout patterns in the counties – Madera, Napa, Nevada, Sacramento, and San Mateo – that adopted this new reform? How did this reform affect the turnout of groups of Californians – young voters, Latinos, and Asian Americans– who have often participated in elections at lower rates than others? We address these questions by gathering data on turnout rates, voter demographics, and electoral competition from 2002 through the primary and general elections of 2018, comparing trends in the adopting counties to the rest of the state.
  • Topic: Demographics, Reform, Elections, Diversity, Voting, Participation, Turnout
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Thad Kousser, Mindy Romero, Mackenzie Lockhart, Seth Hill, Jennifer Merolla
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: In April 2020, how did Californians of all demographic groups want to cast their ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic, what changes to the electoral process would they support during this critical moment, and how would reforms made in 2020 reshape our state’s electorate in the future? We address these questions by analyzing a statewide survey of a diverse sample of 12,276 eligible voters (adult citizens) conducted April 8-22, 2020. As a whole, California’s eligible voters plan to vote by mail more than ever before in November 2020. Voting by mail is the method that gives them the most confidence in the integrity of election results, and they are strongly supportive of policies that expand access to voting by mail. The level of support for voting by mail differs across California’s diverse racial and ethnic groups. Consistent with past studies, our survey found that Latino and African-American eligible voters are generally less likely to prefer this method of voting than non-Latino whites and Asian Americans. It will be important to consider the potentially disparate impacts that any election administration changes could bring and to conduct broad outreach efforts. When presented with scientific projections predicting a fall peak in the impact of COVID-19, eligible voters were even more likely to prefer voting by mail and to express concerns about waiting in line or working at a polling place that did not adhere to social distancing protocols. Specifying a set of social distancing guidelines for in-perso
  • Topic: Elections, Voting, Pandemic, Participation, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Cheryl Boudreau, Jennifer Merolla, Sono Shah
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: Can racial and ethnic minorities be mobilized to participate in politics at greater rates? We theorize that mobilization messages providing information about a group’s underrepresentation in government may increase participation among racial/ethnic minorities. However, responsiveness to such messages should vary depending on individuals’ prior awareness of their group’s underrepresentation. Using a two-wave panel survey that randomly assigned different get out the vote messages, we find that messages highlighting a racial/ethnic group’s underrepresentation in government do not increase Latinos’, Blacks’, or Asians’ likelihood of voting. We also find that such messages can decrease other forms of political participation among Asians and Latinos who were previously unaware of their group’s underrepresentation. These findings indicate that information about underrepresentation can actually demobilize certain segments of the electorate. Thus, practical efforts to boost participation among underrepresented groups should either communicate information about underrepresentation in other ways or provide a different type of message altogether.
  • Topic: Minorities, Elections, Diversity, Voting, Participation, Mobilization, Turnout
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Amy E. Lerman, Jessie Harney
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: The effects of COVID-19 across California have been devastating, but the impact of the virus has been particularly acute in the state’s overcrowded prisons and jails. The epidemic has clear implications for incarcerated individuals and their families, but also for the tens of thousands of Californians employed in the state’s prison system. These workers represent a powerful force in state politics (Myers, 2018; Williams et al., 2020).
  • Topic: Labor Issues, Prisons/Penal Systems, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Thad Kousser, Mindy Romero, Mackenzie Lockhart, Seth Hill, Jennifer Merolla
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: In April, 2020, was there a partisan divide between eligible voters from California’s major parties over whether they preferred to vote in person or through mail ballots in the November election, and what percentage of likely voters from each party said they would not vote if the election were held exclusively through the mail? Did partisans divide over policy proposals about how to conduct this election? We investigate these questions by analyzing a statewide survey of a diverse sample of 12,276 eligible voters conducted April 8-22, 2020. When we asked eligible voters how they wanted to cast their ballots this November, we found no significant divide between the Republican and Democratic eligible voters. More than half of eligible voters in both parties prefer to cast a ballot by mail, with nearly another two in ten voters preferring to drop off a ballot that has been sent to them in the mail. Gaps of eight to twelve percentage points emerge between partisans over support for policies that advance voting by mail, though there is still a strong consensus supporting these changes among all partisan affiliations.
  • Topic: Elections, Voting, Public Health, Pandemic, Participation, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Jonathan Collins, Eddie Lucero, Jessica Trounstine
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: In 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Voter Participation Rights Act (SB 415) into law. As its title suggests, the bill aimed to increase turnout in local elections by forcing all California jurisdictions to hold elections concurrently with statewide elections (in June or November of even years). Turnout in local elections is significantly lower than national turnout, averaging only 20% by some estimates (Alford and Lee 1968, Wood 2002, Hajnal and Lewis 2003, Caren 2007, Hajnal 2009). Scholars have found that election timing is the most important predictor of differences in aggregate turnout rates across cities (Alford and Lee 1968, Anzia 2014, Anzia 2011, Hajnal and Trounstine 2005). Hajnal and Lewis find that city elections that coincide with presidential elections are associated with a turnout of registered voters 36 percentage points higher than turnout in cities that do not hold elections that coincide with the presidential election (2001, 656). Caren finds that cities holding elections concurrent with the presidential election increase voter turnout by 27% compared to cities that do not (2007, 41). The logic behind SB 415 is that moving local elections to coincide with national elections will improve electoral participation.
  • Topic: Elections, Voting, Participation, Turnout
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America