Research and Research Interests

My research is primarily at the nexus of American politics and social psychology, examining the role of affect and emotion and how they relate to political outcomes of interest to contemporary scholars of American politics. My work has looked at fear and American foreign policy, anxiety and the 2016 election, and a soon-to-be-posted prospectus on anxiety affects and how they influence political trust and political efficacy. I utilize a mixed methods approach, employing experiments, surveys, observational studies, and other unique approaches.

Other research interests of mine include network science and the collaboration networks formed between congressional campaigns. A working paper with Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier and Benjamin W. Campbell will be posted shortly.

 
 
2016_Presidential_Election_by_County.svg.png

Collaboration Among Congressional Campaigns: The Sharing of Donor and Supporter Information 

Co-Authored with Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier and Benjamin W. Campbell.

Relative to legislative behavior, much of our knowledge about collaboration between congressional campaigns is limited to anecdotal or ethnographic accounts. To fill this gap, scholars have used legislative collaboration as a stand-in for studying electoral behavior. But do members of Congress who network for policy related purposes network similarly for campaign related purposes? Using a quasi-experiment of the 2016 election and nearly 3.2 million FEC records from 2010-2016, we empirically separate legislative and campaign behaviors for the first time, and show the similarity and differences in these processes. Specifically, we find that party and committee membership drive most campaign collaboration, though some is cross-party. This finding shines light on how campaign behavior can be entirely isolated from legislative behavior, yet is endeavored to obtain similar ends. While collaboration between members is routinely used to achieve policy goals, we now show that collaboration is also used to achieve campaign goals.

*Presented at the 11th Annual Political Networks Conference, George Mason University, Arlington, Virginia, June 6-9, 2018

 
USA.png

Election-Related Anxiety, Affective Partisanship in the Age of Trump, and Election Participation, 2004-2016 

The literature on the role of affect and emotion in politics has different expectations whether we treat anger, fear, and anxiety separately or not. Being that there are different expectations whether we treat anger and fear as measures of anxiety or as separate constructs altogether, and given that the literature is an hodgepodge in terms of these expectations, I frame hypotheses in an attempt to sort through and clarify such. I do so using ANES data from the 2016 president election and the three before it. I find that levels of anxiety were higher in 2016 than in previous elections, that anxiety weakens the strength of partisanship as a predictor of vote choice. But the presence of these anxieties are nominal, suggesting anecdotal accounts describing ginormous levels of anxiety present in the electorate either overestimate or overstate its appearance, or current measures of anxiety conflate clinical and subclinical forms of anxiety with its much milder cousin, affective partisanship. Future studies should take care to distinguish between degrees of anxiety, as not all anxieties are created equal, and not all anxieties are more severe than generalized anxiety, expressed in politics most frequently as affective partisanship. Broader implications for election participation more specifically and democratic citizenship more generally are also discussed. 

 
China.png

Public Opinion, Societal Differences, and American Foreign Policy: The Moderating Role of Religion and Theology on War

China has manipulated it’s currency relative to the U.S. Dollar, stolen countless intellectual properties from private American companies, and hacked over 22 million confidential records from the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management. Yet, China and the United States are not at war. Yes, they are military and techno- logical rivals, battling for global hegemony, but much keeps them from engaging in a militarized interstate dispute (MID). Without much hesitation, much of the literature in international relations argues this is due to mutually assured destruction (MAD) and economic interdependence. I launch a survey experiment to test the moderating effect of religious theology on fear of a physical threat, which in turn affects the likelihood of a MID. China may be a strategic threat to the United States, but unlike many Muslim countries in the Middle East, Americans are not afraid of China because it will not declare jihad against us, or duplicate terrorist attacks like 9/11. In essence, it is not The West vs. radical Islam. No matter how strong economic interdependence might be, and no matter how pertinent MAD may be, I predict an additional causal factor preventing war between the United States and China is lack of a religious component to the animosity. MAD and economic interdependence do indeed account for reasons the United States and China do not engage in war, but scholars have yet to universally quantify to what extent this is the case. Perhaps religious theology should be added to the list alongside MAD and economic interdependence as causal mechanisms preventing war between the United States and China. 

*Presented at the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association, New Orleans, Louisiana, January 12-14, 2017.

**Please contact me for replication data.