I am broadly interested in marginalized group representation, state legislatures, interest group politics, and the political impacts of group identity and group consciousness.
Here is a list of my current projects, some more nascent than others:
"Getting a High Heel in the Door: \\ An Experiment on Gender Gaps in Women's Organizational Lobbying" (Job market paper; Forthcoming in Political Science Quarterly)
Are women in office more likely to provide access to women's lobby groups than men in office? If so, how can women's strategic lobbying increase the responsiveness of male legislators? This paper presents a field experiment examining how women and men in state legislatures respond differently to women's organizational lobbying. My findings suggest that substantial gender gaps do exist; women are twice as likely to respond to a women's issue lobbyist's simple meeting request. That said, meeting requests signaling constituent mobilization have heterogeneous effects across legislator gender, doubling the likelihood that a male legislator will respond and effectively closing gender gaps in responsiveness. My results identify how women's lobbying can employ distinct lobbying strategies on descriptive and non-descriptive representatives to successfully gain their attention. In distinguishing differing pathways towards maximizing opportunities for women's substantive representation, this paper importantly informs women’s groups lobbying in state legislatures, wherein low levels of descriptive representation often persist.
Working paper version here:
"Sex, Money, and Subnational Politics: Do Women's Groups Contribute Differently to Male and Female Candidates?" (Won Best Graduate Student Poster at 2019 State Politics and Policy Conference)
Do women's organizations use different strategies when targeting descriptive and non-descriptive candidates? On one hand, research on lobbying shows that interest groups use campaign contributions to gain sway with influential legislators. On the other hand, scholars also observe that groups are motivated by an interest in ensuring their allies are elected rather than an interest in ``buying'' influence; groups contribute to candidates with whom they already hold strong ties. Unpacking this strategic tension subnationally, this paper considers how groups lobbying on behalf of women chose between these two campaign finance strategies depending on whether they target descriptive and non-descriptive representatives. Using data on campaign contributions to state legislators in California, Ohio, and Florida between 2000 and 2010, I investigate how electoral competitiveness and past legislative behavior on women's issues predict contributions by women's groups over time. How do these predictive relationships change depending on whether the women's lobby group targets male verses female legislators? Supplementing my data with a qualitative interview study of state-level women's lobbyists, I argue that women's groups are more likely to view female candidates as allies, and are thus most likely to contribute when women running for reelection face tight elections. In contrast, contributions to male candidates are instead driven by efforts to reward or incentivize legislative activism for women from less likely allies. In illuminating how relationships between women's lobbyists and legislators change depending on elements of descriptive representation, I speak to the larger question of how pathways towards substantive representation for women- and the strategic choices by groups that can maximize the likelihood of substantive outcomes- are divergent depending on the gender of the legislator.
"Reconsidering Gender Gaps in State Legislatures: The Effects of Women's Lobbying"
This paper examines how changes in support from women's groups can influence changes in women's issue bill introduction by state legislators in five states: California, Florida, Ohio, Missouri, and Oregon. Considerable research suggests that electing more women in U.S. state legislatures makes a difference for female constituents. That said, scholars also find that linkages between women's descriptive and substantive representation are conditional rather than absolute. While studies on the conditional linkages between women’s descriptive and substantive representation have largely focused on party, district, and institutional characteristics, little is understood about the influence of women’s organizations and lobbying. Similarly, where scholars often focus on female legislative behavior to identify gender gaps between descriptive and non-descriptive representatives, few scholars explore the conditions under which men become more active on women's issues in a legislature. This paper is concerned with both missing pieces in the literature, and investigates how lobbying by women's groups can influence male and female legislators differently. I explore how women are more likely overall to introduce women’s issue legislation regardless of whether they receive campaign contributions from women’s groups. However, I also show that men in office are uniquely triggered over time towards increased activity on women’s issues when targeted by women's group campaign contributions, narrowing observable gender gaps while increasing women’s representation overall.
"When White Women Voters Ignore Accusations of Sexual Assault: Considering Conflicting Group Identities and Political Group Consciousness"
Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 Presidential election stumped political pundits and pollsters, many of whom had expected women to carry Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton into office. Those reporting on the election were especially baffled to discover that, according to a poll conducted by Edison Media Research for the Washington Post, white women played a pivotal roll in Trump's electoral success. Given that the candidate faced numerous accusations of sexual harassment and assault, the question of why white female voters accepted Trump as a superior Presidential candidate presents a significant political puzzle. Why did female voters support Trump despite his reputation for mistreatment of women? Did Trump's alleged mistreatment of women play an important role in preferences at the polls? This paper takes a critical look at how theories of gender and racial group consciousness, political polarization, and negative partisanship contribute to our understanding of female vote in the 2016. I argue that the current political climate triggers conflict between an individual's potential group identities. Gender consciousness emerges a mobilizing factor for some white women, while for others racial or partisan identities are dominant. For the latter, gender consciousness fails to take hold, increasing the likelihood a female voter will dismiss allegations of sexual assault. This question is especially important in the current political climate, as voters are increasingly faced with the dilemma of choosing between a candidate accused of rape and a candidate running from the opposition party.
"Challenges to White Identity: Distinguishing Between Real and Imagined Perceptions of Illegal Immigration Policy"
This project investigates if individuals in support of aggressive deportation policies for illegal immigrants experience shifts in their policy preferences and perceptions of illegal immigrants when face to face with the policy's enactment. It uses the implementation of community level mass deportation raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as an experimental stimuli for change in policy and racial perceptions. In pursuing this study, I hope to speak to the important question: do those in support of these policies support them in practice as well as in theory? If immigration status shapes perceptions of ``otherness,'' how deeply are such perceptions of ``other'' grounded? Can confrontation with the humanity of an ``other'' re-frame perceptions of public policy for those in historically dominant groups, or do threats to the status-quo sufficiently strengthen dominant group consciousness to prevent such dramatic changes in attitude? I hypothesize that the experience of seeing the local consequences of such policies will impact some individuals to change their policy preferences, placing increased weight on humanitarian costs. That said, I also expect that varying strength in an individual's racial identity and group consciousness will condition the magnitude of such change. By measuring an individual's proximity to the policy's implementation process in terms of both area of residence as well as by industry/workforce participation, this study promises to shed much needed and empirically supported insight into the real effects of immigration policies that have, until recently, been restricted to posture and rhetoric.
"Who Do You Trust? Candidate Characteristics and Voter Beliefs About Issue-Specific Efficacy"
Studies linking descriptive and substantive representation suggest that legislators from marginalized groups perceive themselves as representatives not just of their electoral constituencies, but also as representatives of those that share their marginalized group identities. Research shows that legislator identity shapes voter perceptions of representatives as well. For example, voters perceive men as more effective representatives than women on issues of war and terrorism. Research most often examines the degree to which gender stereotypes influence voter perceptions through one dimensional lenses - either gender or race. However, very little research considers how a candidate's intersectional identities can shape their perceived effectiveness, or how this perceived effectiveness varies from issue to issue. In collaboration with Kirsten Widner, this project uses a randomized survey experiment to better identify voter perceptions of the linkages between descriptive and substantive representation, paying close attention to shared marginalized identities and dynamics of intersectionality.