(please contact me for copies)

  • Racial resentment, partisan identity, and public opinion about voter fraud. (2017). [2017 MPSA paper]
    • Abstract
      Despite a lack of evidence, the belief that voting fraud is common is widespread and support for requiring voters to show identification (ID) at the polls is high. Observers point to Americans’ racial and partisan predispositions as explanations, viewing support as reflective of Whites’ resentment toward minorities and/or Republicans’ desire to prevent likely Democrats from voting. In this study, I attempt to disentangle these two effects with a survey experiment that primes racial and partisan considerations. Non-Hispanic White respondents were exposed to an image of campaign activists that varied by both race (White vs. non-White) and party (Democrats vs. Republicans) before answering questions about voter fraud. Neither belief in the prevalence of fraud nor support for voter ID laws varied significantly by the image respondents were exposed to. There is some evidence that racial resentment moderates the effect, such that racially resentful Whites see fraud as more common when exposed to images of non-White Democrats. However, for the most part, there are few differences across conditions. I conclude by considering some potential explanations for these null results.
  • Explaining Public Opinion toward Transgender People, Rights, and Candidates. (2016). [With Paul R. Brewer, Lindsay H. Hoffman, Jennifer L. Lambe, and Dannagal Goldthwaite Young; 2016 APSA paper]
    • Abstract
      What explains public opinion toward transgender people, rights, and candidates? We draw on original data from a national telephone survey of U.S. adults to explain attitudes regarding (1) the personal characteristics of transgender people; (2) a variety of transgender rights; and (3) transgender candidates for public office, measured through a randomized experiment included in the survey. We document majority support on most policy questions, but more tepid views of transgender people, and solid opposition to supporting a transgender candidate for office. Our analyses reflect and extend previous research on American public opinion. Respondents’ fundamental values (egalitarianism, moral traditionalism, party identity, ideology, and religiosity) and personality characteristics (need for cognitive closure) predict views of transgender people and support for their rights. We also find a significant relationship between television use and views of transgender people, suggesting that media portrayals may play a role in shaping these perceptions. In contrast, we find no evidence that interpersonal contact with a transgender person is related to opinions here. Further, we show that many of these independent variables have little moderating effect on responses to transgender candidates, which remain negative among most subgroups.
  • Challenger Quality and Democratic Accountability. (2016). [2015 APSA paper]
    • Abstract
      Scholars frequently suggest that high-quality challengers foster greater accountability in congressional elections: more experienced candidates should better educate the public about the incumbent’s record and encourage them to punish her for any “out of step” votes. To test these assumptions, I match survey data from the 2006–2010 U.S. Senate elections with multiple measures of challenger quality. The results show no effect of challenger quality on what constituents know about the incumbent’s record or how well they hold her accountable for it. The presence of high-quality candidates thus appears less critical for democratic accountability than many assume.
  • Elite Cues and Public Polarization on Transgender Rights. (2017). [With Paul R. Brewer]
    • Abstract
      This study adds to the emerging literature explaining public opinion toward transgender rights by demonstrating the importance of elite cues for such opinion. Data from two cross-sectional surveys conducted in 2015 and 2016 measure public opinion on several policies affecting transgender people. Consistent with Zaller (1992), the results indicate “polarization effects” whereby the most politically-aware citizens followed increasingly divided elite cues along ideological lines. The future trajectory of public opinion on transgender rights would thus seem to depend significantly on the behavior of elites.