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Public Law and Legal Theory

Steven A. Krieger

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Do “Tough On Crime” Politicians Win More Elections? An Empirical Analysis Of California State Legislators From 1992 To 2000, Steven A. Krieger Dec 2010

Do “Tough On Crime” Politicians Win More Elections? An Empirical Analysis Of California State Legislators From 1992 To 2000, Steven A. Krieger

Steven A. Krieger

Do “tough on crime” politicians win more elections? Conventional wisdom suggests that they do. After all, who was the last public official to win an election based on a “soft on crime” platform? Correspondingly, this unjustified and widespread belief among legislators (and their strategists) makes it extremely difficult for progressive criminal justice bills to become law. There is no empirical literature, however, to support or deny this conventional political wisdom.

A regression analysis was used to answer (1) whether legislators’ election results were impacted by their voting records (based on an assigned crime score) or constituent support for a ballot ...