Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration
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 communitites, 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]
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]
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. [Supplemental Information] [Data]
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]
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]
The Upside of Accents: Language, Skin Tone, and Attitudes toward Immigration
Under Review; 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.
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.
Under Review, co-authored with Van C. Tran and Abigail Fisher Williamson
This paper explores whether brief exposures to Spanish can influence Americans' immigration attitudes--and shows 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]
SSRN Working Paper 2106116, 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.
Out of Context: The Unexpected Absence of Spatial Variation in U.S. Immigrants' Perceptions of Discrimination
SSRN Working Paper 2108173, 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.
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]
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] [R Packgage for Windows]
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]
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]
Working Paper, 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.
Local and Urban Politics
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]
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.
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.
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.
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]
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]
Under Review, SSRN Working Paper 2070596, 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.
Under Review, SSRN Working Paper 20163769
Did frames like those about "death panels" influence public opinion on health care reform during the contentious 2009-2012 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.
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]
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.
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.