Wolak J. PUBLIUS-THE JOURNAL OF FEDERALISM. 46 (4) (September 01, 2016): 463-485.
Why do people call for states’ rights and the devolution of national authority? Are they driven by partisan motives, where they like devolution the most when the President is of the opposing party? Or are calls to shift the balance of federal power rooted in sincere support for decentralized political authority? Using survey data from 1987 to 2012, I explore how support for devolution varies across time and individuals. I find that people are not strictly partisan in how they think about devolution. While people are more likely to favor decentralization when the President is of the opposing party, they are no more likely to want devolution when their own party controls state government. Substantive considerations are also important, where those who support limited government increasingly favor the devolution of central authority as the size of the national government increases relative to the size of state and local government.