Research

Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration

Past Threat, Present Prejudice: The Impact of Adolescent Racial Context on White Racial Attitudes

Under review; SSRN Working Paper 2799347, co-authored with Seth Goldman

Extensive research suggests that non-Hispanic whites living near African Americans have higher levels of prejudice. In this paper, we show that where people lived as adolescents–not where they live as adults–predicts their levels of prejudice.

The Muted Consequences of Correct Information on Immigration

Under review; SSRN Working Paper 2798622, co-authored with John Sides and Jack Citrin

People who over-estimate the share of immigrants in the U.S. tend to be more opposed to immigration. In this paper, we use four experiments to show that providing accurate information about actual immigrant population shares does little to dampen opposition to immigration.

Out of Context: The Unexpected Absence of Spatial Variation in U.S. Immigrants’ Perceptions of Discrimination

Politics, Groups, and Identities, 2016, 4(3):363-92, co-authored with Jonathan Mummolo, Victoria Esses, Cheryl Kaiser, Helen Marrow, and Monica McDermott

Both scholarship and journalism lead us to expect that immigrants will experience different levels of discrimination depending on where within the U.S. they settle.  To the contrary, this paper finds a striking lack of spatial variation in first-generation immigrants’ perceptions of discrimination, and discusses the implications of its results. [Ungated, SSRN]

The Hidden American Immigration Consensus: A Conjoint Analysis of Attitudes toward Immigrants

American Journal of Political Science, 2015, 59(3):529-548, co-authored with Jens Hainmueller

This paper uses conjoint analysis, a tool from marketing, to test a range of hypotheses about Americans’ attitudes toward immigrants.  Drawing on a two-wave Knowledge Networks survey, it demonstrates that Americans view educated immigrants in high-status jobs favorably, while they view those who lack plans to work, have previously entered without authorization, or do not speak English unfavorably.  I summarized this research at The Washington Post’s Wonkblog here. [Award: 2013 Best Paper, Elections, Public Opinion, and Voting Behavior Section of APSA] [Ungated, SSRN]

The Upside of Accents: Language, Skin Tone, and Attitudes toward Immigration

British Journal of Political Science, 2015, 45(3):531-557; SSRN Working Paper 1879965

Do immigrants who speak Spanish or have darker skin tones provoke more support for restricting immigration?  This paper uses two population-based survey experiments to demonstrate that they do not.  Instead, an immigrant speaking with a pronounced accent induces more pro-immigration attitudes, likely because the accent is seen as a signal of his desire to assimilate.  I summarized this research on The Monkey Cage here. [Online Appendix] [Data]

Public Attitudes towards Immigration

Annual Review of Political Science, 2014, 17:225-249, co-authored with Jens Hainmueller

This review summarizes and then discusses just under 100 studies of immigration attitudes undertaken over the past two decades. Consistently, immigration attitudes show little evidence of being strongly correlated with personal economic circumstances. Instead, immigration attitudes are shaped by sociotropic concerns about national-level impacts, whether those impacts are cultural or economic.

One Language, Two Meanings: Partisanship and Responses to Spanish

Political Communication, 2014, 31(3):421-455

The Spanish language is a flashpoint in discussions about immigration.  Do brief encounters with Spanish shape attitudes toward immigration and integration?  Coupling a survey experiment with voting data from California, this paper shows that Spanish induces different responses among Republicans and Democrats–and that its use on ballots can influence voting patterns as well. [Ungated, SSRN]

See No Spanish? Language, Local Context, and Attitudes toward Immigration

Politics, Groups, and Identities, 2014, 2(1):35-51, co-authored with Van C. Tran and Abigail Fisher Williamson

This paper explores whether brief exposures to Spanish can influence Americans’ immigration attitudes–and uses multiple experiments to show that the impact hinges on people’s prior exposure to Spanish. For those who hear Spanish frequently, even a subtle exposure to written Spanish induces anti-immigration attitudes. [Earlier Version] [Data]

Flooded Communities: Explaining Local Reactions to the Post-Katrina Migrants

Political Research Quarterly, 2012, 65(2):443-459

This paper uses the post-Katrina migration as a source of exogenous variation to explore the impact of changing demographics on a variety of political attitudes and behaviors.  It shows that Baton Rouge and Houston respondents to the Katrina evacuees in different ways, with Baton Rouge residents growing increasingly opposed to public benefits and Houston residents becoming increasingly concerned about crime.   [Data]  [Award: Best Poster, 2007 Summer Meeting of the Society for Political Methodology]

Translating into Votes: The Electoral Impact of Spanish-Language Ballots

American Journal of Political Science, 2011, 55(4):814-830

This manuscript uses two data sets to examine the impact of Spanish-language ballots. Exploiting a sharp discontinuity in the Voting Rights Act, it demonstrates that Spanish-language ballots increased turnout among Spanish speakers, and that they decreased opposition to bilingual education in California’s 1998 Proposition 227.  This research was discussed by Voice of America News and New America Media. [Data]

National Debates, Local Responses: The Origins of Local Concern about Immigration in the U.K. and the U.S.

British Journal of Political Science, 2011, 41(3):499-524

The political impact of people’s neighborhoods can change quite dramatically depending on what topics are salient in national politics. This paper uses panel data from the U.K. to demonstrate that living near immigrants shapes concern about immigration primarily when the issue is prominent in national debates. Survey data from the U.S. reinforce this claim.  [Online Appendix]

The Limited Local Impacts of Ethnic and Racial Diversity

American Politics Research, 2011, 39(2):344-379

Past research contends that ethnic and racial diversity dampens spending on a variety of public goods in U.S. cities. This paper takes a second look, using the most extensive data set on city spending from 1950 to 2002 available to date. It shows that the relationship between diversity and public goods is far weaker than previously suspected. In recent years, the only consistent influence has been to increase criminal justice spending. This post at Wonkblog draws on this research. [Supplemental Information] [Data]

Politicized Places: Explaining Where and When Immigrants Provoke Local Opposition

American Political Science Review, 2010, 104(1):40-60

Testing a novel theory of neighborhood effects, this paper shows that immigrants are construed as threatening under two conditions: when immigrants suddenly arrive in a community and when national rhetoric or frames are available to politicize their arrival.  This article was covered in Emerging Issues. [Data]

Journal of Politics, 2009, 71(1):160-177
Using a unique data set on tax votes in Massachusetts communities, this paper demonstrates that sudden increases in diversity can dampen the provision of public goods by reducing the number of long-term projects put before voters.  The article was discussed in the Boston Globe and The New York Times as well. [Supplemental Information] [Data]

Research Methods

Beyond the Breaking Point? Survey Satisficing in Conjoint Experiments

Under review, co-authored with Kirk Bansak, Jens Hainmueller, and Teppei Yamamoto

When administering conjoint experiments, how many attributes can researchers include? This paper shows that conjoint survey designs are surprisingly robust to the inclusion of large numbers of attributes.

The Number of Choice Tasks and Survey Satisficing in Conjoint Experiments

Under review, co-authored with Kirk Bansak, Jens Hainmueller, and Teppei Yamamoto

This paper examines a potential breaking-point in conjoint survey experiments: how many tasks can respondents complete before fatigue leads to excessive satisficing?

Beyond Binary Labels: Political Prediction of Twitter Users

ACL, 2017, co-authored with Daniel Preotiuc-Pietro, Ye Liu, and Lyle Ungar

This paper characterizes how Twitter users’ language varies depending on their political ideology.  Only those on the political extremes tweet about politics with much frequency.

Causal Inference in Conjoint Analysis: Understanding Multi-Dimensional Choices via Stated Preference Experiments

Political Analysis, 2014, 22(1):1-30, co-authored with Jens Hainmueller and Teppei Yamamoto

This paper demonstrates the potential value of conjoint analysis to political scientists, using examples about vote choice and immigrant admission to the United States. In doing so, it develops a set of statistical tools for drawing causal conclusions from stated preference data based on the potential outcomes framework of causal inference.  [Data] [Award: Editor’s Choice designation, Political Analysis ; Miller Prize for Best 2014 Article in Political Analysis]

The Inside View: Using the Enron Email Archive to Understand Business Lobbying

Legislative Studies Quarterly, 2013, 38(1):5-30; SSRN Working Paper 1643658, co-authored with Lee Drutman

This paper exploits the public release of more than 200,000 internal emails by the Enron Corporation to better understand the types of lobbying that Enron engaged in.  Enron devoted only a small fraction of its attention to campaigns and elections, and was far more active in formally participating in bureaucratic processes than previous work might suggest.  It also uses tools from automated content analysis to focus attention on political emails.  [Award: Best Paper, Political Organizations and Parties Section of APSA, 2010]

Improving Anchoring Vignettes: Designing Surveys to Correct Interpersonal Incomparability

Public Opinion Quarterly, 2010, 74(2):201-222, co-authored with Gary King

Anchoring vignettes are an increasingly common tool to reduce differences in how respondents interpret survey questions.  This paper uses survey experiments to develop insights about how to design surveys with anchoring vignettes. It shows that placing vignettes prior to a self-assessment question can prime respondents, improving the measurement of the underlying concept. It also develops advice for survey questions that ask respondents to compare themselves to others. [Data]

A Method of Nonparametric Automated Content Analysis for the Social Sciences

American Journal of Political Science, 2010, 54(1):229-247, co-authored with Gary King

The explosion of blogs and other digitized text presents opportunities to measure public opinion in new ways.  This paper presents methods of automated content analysis that give approximately unbiased estimates of the proportion of documents falling into pre-specified categories.  It then applies these methods to data on thousands of web logs about the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. [Data] [R Package]

The Constraining Power of International Treaties: Theory and Methods

American Political Science Review, 2005, 99(4):623-631, co-authored with Beth Simmons

Owing to self-selection, estimating treaty effects is challenging, as countries are more likely to sign treaties if they expect to comply with them. This paper argues that treaties can both screen among states and then constrain those states that become signatories. It uses propensity score matching, and finds that signing onto the International Monetary Fund’s Article VIII has a marked impact on signatories’ behavior. [Data]

 

Local and Urban Politics

Economic Voting in Big-City U.S. Mayoral Elections

Political Science Research and Method, forthcoming; SSRN Working Paper 2567294, co-authored with Lindsay M. Pettingill

At the presidential level, we know a lot about why voters support incumbents–but we know far less about retrospective voting in mayoral elections. Using a novel data set with 341 mayoral elections, the paper shows that incumbent mayors suffer at the ballot box when their city’s unemployment rate is high relative to the nation’s. I also summarized this research at FiveThirtyEight. [Data]

After It’s Too Late: Estimating the Policy Impacts of Black Mayoralties in U.S. Cities

American Politics Research, 2012, 40(4):665-700, SSRN Working Paper 1632390, co-authored with Katherine T. McCabe

Mayoral elections between black and white candidates frequently generate charged rhetoric.  But do black mayoralties pursue different fiscal or employment policies once elected?  This paper shows that the answer is typically no, with the exception of police hiring and spending.  [Supplemental Information]

Inactive by Design: Neighborhood Design and Political Participation

Political Behavior, 2012, 34(1):79-101, co-authored with Thad Williamson

Suburban communities in the U.S. have sometimes been condemned for their lack of civic engagement. This article takes a critical look at such claims.  It uses multilevel modeling and data on nearly 30,000 Americans to demonstrate that certain aspects of suburban design do dampen political participation–but that other aspects of suburban design have cross-cutting effects.

When Mayors Matter: Estimating the Impact of Mayoral Partisanship on City Policy

American Journal of Political Science, 2011, 55(2):326-339, co-authored with Elisabeth Gerber

Do Democratic mayors spend city money differently? This paper uses regression discontinuity design and a novel data set of big-city elections to show that they do–but only on areas under their direct control, such as policing and fire.  [Supplemental Information]  [Data]

Discounting Politics: The Impact of Large Retailers on American Communities

Working Paper

Wal-Mart and other large retailers have been heavily criticized for their impact on American communities, but social scientists have been slow to explore just how real those impacts are. This working paper uses matching and hierarchical modeling approaches to estimate how large retailers reshape the civic life of the communities they enter.

   

Political Behavior

The Medicaid Expansion and Attitudes toward the Affordable Care Act

Under Review; SSRN Working Paper 20163769, co-authored with Kalind Parish

Using a difference-in-difference design and data on more than 60,000 Americans between 2010 and 2016, this paper shows that the Medicaid expansion increased approval for the Affordable Care Act after its implementation in certain states. [Appendix] [Media]

The Exaggerated Life of Death Panels: The Limited but Real Influence of Elite Rhetoric in the 2009-2010 Health Care Debate

Conditionally Accepted, Political Behavior; SSRN Working Paper 20163769

Did frames like those about “death panels” influence public opinion on health care reform during the contentious 2009-2010 debates on the issue?  This paper applies automated content analysis to press releases, television appearances, and open-ended survey questions to address that question.  It illustrates the limits of framing effects, as the public’s core reasons for supporting and opposing the Affordable Care Act were evident in its language even before health care became a salient issue.  I summarized elements of this research in the Washington Post and on The Monkey Cage.

 

Assessing the Breadth of Framing Effects

Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 2017, 12(1):37-57; SSRN Working Paper 2863930; co-authored with Jonathan Mummolo

When citizens are exposed to an argument on one issue, does it influence their attitudes on others? This research uses a novel, population-based survey experiment to show that the answer is largely “no”–framing effects tend to be constrained to the issues discussed explicitly by the political rhetoric. [Ungated] [Appendix] [Data]

Voting but for the Law: Evidence from Virginia on Photo Identification Requirements

Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 2017, 14(1):79-128; co-authored with Marc Meredith, Michael Morse, Sarah Smith, and Jesse Yoder.

This paper assesses the effect of a change in voter ID policies in Virginia implemented between 2013 and 2014. The evidence indicates that the strict photo identification requirements did not seem to deter substantial numbers of Virginia voters from casting ballots in 2014, possibly because of outreach efforts that accompanied its implementation. [Ungated] [Data]

Unresponsive and Unpersuaded: The Unintended Consequences of Voter Persuasion Efforts

Political Behavior, 2016, 38(3):713-746; SSRN Working Paper 2307631; co-authored with Michael Bailey and Todd Rogers

Does inter-personal persuasion work in a presidential campaign?  In this paper, we evaluate a large-scale field experiment in which 56,000 Wisconsin voters were randomly assigned to persuasive contacts through canvassing, phone calls, and mail.  The results indicate a backlash, as canvassed voters were less likely to complete a follow-up survey and less likely to support the candidate backed by the campaign.  I summarized this research at The Washington Post’s Wonkblog here. [Data]

The Consequences of Broader Media Choice: Evidence from the Expansion of Fox News

Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 2014, 9(1):115-135, co-authored with Jonathan M. Ladd

Can the introduction of a new media outlet with a distinctive ideological perspective shape election outcomes?  This paper uses individual-level data from the 2000 National Annenberg Election Study to show that the effects of Fox News access varied by party.  For a summary on Wonkblog at The Washington Post, see here.  [Appendix]

 

No Wilder Effect, Never a Whitman Effect: When and Why Polls Mislead about Black and Female Candidates

Journal of Politics, 2009, 71(3):769-781

Analysts have commonly discussed the “Wilder effect,” the gap between how black candidates poll and how they perform on election day. Testing these claims on all elections for Senator or Governor from 1989 to 2006, this paper finds that the Wilder effect disappeared for black candidates by the mid-1990s. This article was discussed in media outlets including ABC News, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Portland Press-Herald, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post, The New York Daily News, Time Magazine, and Science.  [Data]

 

Whose Economy?  Perceptions of Economic Performance During Unequal Growth

Public Opinion Quarterly, 2012, 76(1):50-70.  SSRN Working Paper 1736742

Americans’ perceptions of economic performance are a powerful influence on Presidential approval and candidate choice, but past research rarely considers what influences these perceptions.  It also has not considered how rising income inequality has shaped economic perceptions.  In past work, snapshots from elections create the impression that these assessments of economic performance are influenced only by income growth among the wealthy. Examining more than 215,000 respondents over three decades, however, we learn that income growth among the poor is frequently more influential.  [Data]

 

Partisan Reinforcement and the Poor: The Impact of Context on Attitudes toward Poverty

Social Science Quarterly, 2009, 90(3):744-764

Can contextual factors shape attitudes toward the poor? Synthesizing racial and political theories of contextual effects, this paper explores attitudes about who is to blame for poverty. It demonstrates that both an area’s racial composition and its partisan composition can influence respondents’ views about why people are poor. [Code]

 

Racial Contexts’ Enduring Influence on Attitudes toward Poverty

Social Science Quarterly, 2009, 90(3):770-776

A reply, this article extends the original evidence that racial contexts–and not certain other contextual measures–shape attitudes toward poverty. It then presents new evidence from an exogenous demographic shock to reinforce the claim that racial contexts shape views of the poor.

 

Reports

Responding in Good Faith: A Report to the Ash Institute on the Response to Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina sent hundreds of thousands of evacuees to communities across the country. This report details how Arkansas used church-based networks to assist the evacuees, and compares that response to those in Houston and Baton Rouge.

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