To be fair, the measurement used for corruption is appearance in federal court. While that’s something, it’s not a perfect measure. Appearances in court are not convictions. And federal courts aren’t state courts.
That being said, for what it’s worth:
This has been a bad couple of weeks for Democrats. The economy is sagging, support for President Barack Obama is declining, and Anthony Weiner and John Edwards are doing their best to draw attention to one of the Democratic Party’s main weaknesses — its corruption problem.
According to a 2009 study published in the esteemed American Political Science Review, Democrats are several times* more likely than Republicans to find themselves in federal court on public corruption charges. The study’s author, New York University professor Sanford C. Gordon, doesn’t really explore why this is, but I have some theories.
To the extent that this is true – and I suspect there’s a level of truth to it – the simplest explanation is that the highest concentration of Democrat politicians are usually in urban areas. Big cities like Chicago and New York. And given the sprawling nature of those municipal government, and the propensity toward brutal “ward politics,” they lend themselves to political corruption. But here’s an interesting footnote to the column:
…Gordon found that the partisan composition of the defendants in corruption cases varies depending on which party controls the presidency. For example, Gordon finds that Democrats were 2.57 times more likely than Republicans to face federal public corruption charges during the Clinton administration but 6.13 times more likely than Republicans to face federal public corruption charges during the George W. Bush administration. Those numbers are based on representative samples of federal public corruption defendants during both administrations.
In other words, Democrats are always more likely to be in courts over corruption than Republicans, but far less Republicans face federal prosecution when a Democrat is President. Which kind of says something about cronyism, no?