Commonwealth Review of Political Science

the official journal of the Kentucky Political Science Association

Editor-in-Chief: James Clinger, Murray State University

Volume 9, No. 1, 2021
For Manuscript Submissions, please visit our Submission Page.

Current Issue

Volume 9, No 1, 2021

“Informal Executive Actions and Agency Guidance: Legal and Political Implications for Immigration and Other Policy Areas. “ Ihsan Alkhatib and James C. Clinger, Murray State University


This paper is a study of the use of various forms of informal executive actions used by presidents and cabinet officials to guide the policy implementation of federal agencies. Among these are policy manuals, guidance statements, statements of administration policy, and announcements of executive priorities. The recent executive action regarding immigration announced by President Obama is also an example of this kind of behavior. The paper will rely upon the analysis of legal scholars who have examined the causes and consequences of informal executive actions. We will examine the implications that these actions have for public participation, transparency, consistency in decision-making, and inter-branch comity. The analysis will be applied to President Obama’s recent action regarding immigration enforcement.

“Fictional Foreign Policy: How Madam Secretary and House of Cards Depict United States Foreign Policy.” John Heyrmann, Berea College


This paper analyzes the ways that United States foreign policy is depicted in two prominent current television programs: House of Cards and Madam Secretary.  Both of these programs have had frequent plots in which the fictional foreign policy of the U.S. deals with issues very similar to those that the United States has actually confronted in recent years.  Examples include nuclear proliferation negotiations with Iran and U.S. concern over anti-gay legislation in Russia.  Several of these fictional stories are analyzed here to consider how processes and policies of the U.S. are portrayed.  Madam Secretary does much more to demonstrate the give and take among executive and legislative branch actors that result in foreign policy, while House of Cards shows the president as dominant.  Neither program fits very well into the realist paradigm of international relations; Madam Secretary fits the liberal idealist model well in most regards.  Both shows include commentary on specific U.S. foreign policy issues, such as the House of Cards’ criticism of the Russian legislation and Madam Secretary’s endorsement of negotiation with Iran.

“Party Registration Deadlines and Hidden Partisanship: An Individual Analysis.” Matthew Thornburg, University of South Carolina at Aiken


Many voters in states with party affiliation identify with or lean towards one political party but are not registered with it. This sort of “hidden partisanship” may be intentional be it may also result from a combination of changes in a voter’s party identification and the electoral institutions in place. In many states it is difficult to change party registration due to early deadlines intended to prevent crossover voting. Using individual-level survey data, I find that hidden partisanship in a state increases, the further in advance of the primary the deadline to change party affiliation is. This deadline affects primary turnout, with deadlines further in advance of primary elections leading to lower turnout by partisans in their own party’s primary and greater rates of abstention and crossover voting. A difference-in-difference design at the county level shows that moving the deadline to change party registration closer to the primary increases primary turnout.

“The Nature and Extent of Presidential Pardon Power: An Analysis in Light of Recent Political Developments.” Max Guirguis, Ph.D., Shepherd University


Long recognized as the most sweeping and least checked power vested in the Chief Executive, the pardon power received renewed scholarly attention with the federal investigation of the Trump White House.  President Trump’s assertion via a Twitter post that “the U.S. President has the complete power to pardon” provoked a heated national debate on the reach of his pardoning authority.  This paper is an attempt to elucidate the nature of the pardon power by examining its historical contours and the constitutional principles governing its exercise.

“Perceptions of Discrimination in the Legal Profession.” Sabrina Collins, University of Louisville


Historically, the legal profession has been dominated by white men (García-López 2008). Over time, the barriers hindering diverse participation have been somewhat lifted. In recent years, law schools enrolled equal percentages of men and women, and the number of minority students has also increased. So, how has the legal profession adapted to these changes? The hiring of women and minorities in the field of law does not reflect the increasing diversity seen in law school. Today, only 36% of lawyers are women. While existing research shows discrimination present in the field of law, few studies have examined the relationship between an attorney’s practice area and experiences of discrimination. It is expected that masculine-typed areas of law create less inclusive work environments; therefore, I expect that women working in masculine-associated areas would report more gender discrimination as well as lower job satisfaction relative to attorneys in feminine-associated areas. Using an existing data set of practicing attorneys in North Carolina, we explored the degree to which reported levels of job satisfaction and perceived gender discrimination varied across gendered areas of law.

“Politics at the Pulpit: Elite Religious Cues and Immigration Attitudes .” Benjamin Knoll and Matthew Baker, Centre College


Previous scholarship has demonstrated a link between religiosity and immigration attitudes, often inferring the effect of cues from religious leaders as the motivating source. This study directly examines the “elite cues” linking mechanism with an experiment embedded in a nationally representative public opinion survey. We improve on previous research designs by introducing a pretest that measures immigration policy attitudes among respondents which can then be directly compared to posttest measures after the introduction of the elite cue stimulus. Multivariate analysis of the survey results reveal no support for the elite cues explanation. We discuss the implications of these findings for elite religious cues as an influential factor on immigration policy attitudes in the United States as well as assess the appropriateness of survey experiments to test the elite cues mechanism in driving immigration attitudes.

Past Issues

Volume 1, No 1, 2013 (click here to download)
  • An Introduction to the KPSA Commonwealth Review of Political Science, Michael Hail
  • Bowling Online: The Internet and the New Social Capital, Jason Gainous, 2010 David Hughes Award Winner
  • Comparing Redistricting Outcomes Across States: A Comparison of Commissions, Court, and Legislative Plans, Jonathan Winburn, 2007 David Hughes Award Winner
  • The Electoral College: A Critical Analysis, John Heyrman, 2004 David Hughes Award Winner
  • Immigration in the EU and the UK: A Conflict of Interests and Policy, Beth Coleman, 2008 Abdul Rifai Award Winner
  • Imperium et Sacerdotium: Universalism, Fragmentation and New Medievalism, Jeremy Wells, 2007 Abdul Rifai Award Winner
  • W(h)ither Tocqueville’s ‘Seed of Free Institutions’?: The Importance and Decline of Localism in America, Jonathan W. Pidluzny
Volume 2, No 1, 2014 (click here to download)
  • School Resources and Student Outcomes in Kentucky Public High Schools, Martin Battle & James Clinger
  • The Fragility of Persistently Economically Distressed Counties in Central Appalachia and the Promise of Public Leadership, Christine Emrich, Stephen Lange, Blake Bedingfield, Bonita Fraley, Justin May, Trey Rosser, & Kyle Yarawsky
  • War Powers in the American Constitutional Scheme: A Legal-Historical Inquiry, Max Guirguis
  • Power, Interdependence and Conflict: What IR Theories Tell Us about China’s Rise, James R. Masterson
  • Roger Sherman and Federalism: The Transition from the Articles of Confederation to the U.S. Constitutions, Autumn Baker, 2013 Abdul Rifai Award Winner
  • Federalism and Administrative Law: Regulatory Power and the U.S. Constitution, Ashley Ruggiero, 2013 Abdul Rifai Award Winner
Volume 3, No 1, 2015 (click here to download)
  • The Theological Foundations of Religious Liberty in the Thought of John Locke, Edward M. Yager
  • The Steward and Statesmanship: Taking Responsibility For the Most Important Things, Timothy Simpson
  • Explaining State-Level Dropout Rates: The Impact of Exit Exams and Public School Resources, Martin Battle & James Clinger
  • Book Review: Judicial Politics in Polarized Times, Paul Foote
  • Decisions Dictated by Perceptions: The Influences of Society and Education in Justice Scalia’s Originalism, Nathan McNichols, 2014 Abdul Rifai Award Winner
  • Do Coal Unions and Racial Diversity Affect Split Ticket Voting in Kentucky?, Kelli South, Chase Deppen, Matthew Gilbert, & Ryan McDonald, 2014 Abdul Rifai Award Winner
  • The Evolution of Kentucky’s Constitutions: A Comparison of the Original and Second Constitutions, Ashley Taulbee, 2014 Abdul Rifai Award Winner
  • Operation Nudge: How Non-Sovereign Organizations can Gain Quasi-Sovereign Powers to Solve Public Choice Issues, Kelly Grenier, 2014 Abdul Rifai Award Winner
Volume 4, No 1, 2017 (click here to download)
  • The Great Divide: The Political Implications of Southern Regional Identification in Kentucky, Joel Turner, Jeff Kash, Scott Lasley, & Erika Binnix
  • The Phantom Segregationist: Kentucky’s 1996 Desegregation Amendment and the Limits of Direct Democracy, D. Stephen Voss & Penny Miller
  • Holding School Leaders Accountable: Estimating the Effects of Retrospective Evaluations of Kentucky School District Superintendents, Martin Battle & James Clinger
  • A Case Study on American Social Media Privacy: Facebook and Government Oversight, Sarah Fink
  • Consequences of Sexual Violence During Civil Conflicts for Post-Conflict Democratization, Kathleen Clark, Best Graduate Paper Award
  • Red Dog, Blue God, Yellow Dog: How Democrats Can Use Strategic Communications to Attract Republican and Conservative Voters, B. Gammon Fain, 2016 Abdul Rifai Ward Winner
  • Resilient Communists: How Fidel Castro Survived the Soviet Collapse and Cuba’s Uncertain Road to Democracy, Max Prowant, 2016 Abdul Rifai Ward Winner
  • The Paradox of the Progressive Presidency: How the Democratization of the Presidential Election System has Degraded the Office, Tyler Syck, 2016 Abdul Rifai Ward Winner