Research: Selected Works

Below you will find a selection of projects I have been working on. Please contact me if you are interested in obtaining complete papers.

State Legislatures:

  • “Term Limits and Collaboration Across the Aisle: An Analysis of Bipartisan Cosponsorship in Term Limited and Non-Term Limited State Legislatures” (with Kathryn VanderMolen), State Politics & Policy Quarterly, June 2016.

ABSTRACT: As members of democratic institutions, state legislators must frequently collaborate with each other to achieve their varied goals. Given the increased attention to questions of polarization and gridlock, scholars should be particularly interested in understanding legislator decisions to collaborate across party lines. This paper is primarily concerned with how institutional arrangements–specifically term limits–structure legislators’ decisions to cosponsor bills with partisan opponents. Using data on bill cosponsorship from 41 states (82 chambers), we demonstrate that term limits reduce bipartisan cosponsorship even when controlling for average legislative tenure. We argue that term limits accomplish this by altering the incentives that legislators face. Additionally, we demonstrate that the effect of term limits depends on the level of legislative professionalization. When professionalization is high, the negative effect of term limits on bipartisan cosponsorship is particularly pronounced.

Online Appendix and Replication Materials

Blog – LSE USAPP

  • “Building Consensus? Examining the Collaborative Activity of Female State Legislators.” (with Kathryn VanderMolen).

Economic Voting and Economic Evaluations:

  • “All Economics Is Local: Spatial Aggregations of Economic Information” (with David Fortunato & Laron Williams), Political Science Research and Methods, forthcoming.

ABSTRACT: National economic indicators play a foundational role on political economic research, particularly in regards to electoral politics. Yet scholars have failed to recognize that national economic indicators are simply aggregations of local economic information, and the manner in which they are aggregated may not be consistent with the process voters use to acquire, access and incorporate economic information. We argue that the economic similarities among localities, and the way in which the media report on these similarities, provide more theoretically satisfying means of specifying how local information aggregates into an overall portrait of the national economy. We introduce a novel estimation procedure called the spatial-X ordered logit (SLX-OL) that offers the chance to model how voters’ evaluations respond to changes in contextualized economic information. Our results support our theory that voters incorporate economic information from other localities with similarly-structured economies and in ways that are shaped by media messages. Furthermore, these two specifications offer greater explanatory power than national indicators and other geographical means of aggregating economic information. We conclude by offering a number of implications for research questions ranging from electoral accountability to spatial diffusion processes.

Online Appendix

Blog – The Plot

  • “Benchmarking, Spilling Over and Partisan Rationalization: A Hybrid Model of Spatial Economic Evaluations” (with David Fortunato & Laron Williams), presented at the 2016 meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association in Chicago.

ABSTRACT: We present and test a hybrid model of how voters incorporate local and non-local economic information to form their evaluations of national economic performance. Our theory builds on both the political psychology and mass political economic literatures to argue that voters should use non-local economy information to contextualize more easily observable local economic conditions, and that this contextualization varies according to partisanship. We hypothesize that those who identify with the party of the president use a “spillover” model of contextualization and those that identify with the opposition adopt a “benchmarking” model. We test this hypothesis with an ordered-logit extension of the spatial-X model and find robust support for our expectations. Non-local economic information shapes the contextualization of local performance in substantively different ways depending on respondents’ partisan predispositions.

 

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