Research

Publications

Forthcoming The Content of their Coverage: Contrasting Racially Conservative and Liberal Elite Rhetoric Politics, Groups, and Identities [doi]

Abstract: Theoretical and empirical evidence suggest that how elites talk about race may shape mass racial attitudes. But current work limits understanding this possibility by not systematically characterizing elite rhetoric on race. To shed light on the nature of racially liberal and conservative elite rhetoric, and therefore the potential for elites to shape mass racial attitudes, I analyze transcripts from two partisan news shows: The Rachel Maddow Show and The O’Reilly Factor. Pairing a case study with text-as-data methods, I provide insight into themes constituting racially liberal and conservative elite discourse. Racial liberals like Maddow emphasize that race matters–racial bias and discrimination still shape nonwhites’ life chances. In contrast, racial conservatives like O’Reilly contend that race does not shape life chances and serves only as an attention-seeking device. Identifying these divides helps shed light on the origins and dynamics of mass racial attitudes.

Forthcoming Racial Attitudes through a Partisan Lens British Journal of Political Science [doi]
Media: [NPR][NPR]
Abstract: The conventional wisdom is that racial attitudes, by forming through early socialization processes, are causally prior to most things political, including whites’ party identifications. Yet, a broad literature demonstrates that partisanship can shape mass attitudes. I argue that this influence extends even to presumptively fundamental predispositions like racial attitudes. Applying cross-lagged models to panel data from the 1990s and 2000s, I demonstrate that whites align their racial attitudes with their party loyalties. Partisanship’s influence is more pronounced in the latter time period, results consistent with a view that changes in the political context can make partisanship a more likely causal force on other attitudes. Racial concerns not only provide a foundation for political conflict, but my results reveal that political processes can actually increase or decrease racial animus.

Forthcoming Grand Old (Tailgate) Party? Partisan discrimination in apolitical settings Political Behavior (with Stephen M. Utych) [doi]

Abstract: Recent work in political science demonstrates that the American public is strongly divided on partisan lines. Levels of affective polarization are so great, it seems, that partisanship even shapes behavior in apolitical settings. However, this literature does not account for other salient identity dimensions on which people make decisions in apolitical settings, potentially stacking the deck in favor of partisanship. We address this limitation with a pair of experiments studying price discrimination among college football fans. We find that partisan discrimination exists, even when the decision context explicitly calls attention to another social identity. But, importantly, this appears to function mostly as in-group favoritism rather than out-group hostility.

2019 E Pluribus Unum? How Ethnic and National Identity Motivate Individual Reactions to a Political Ideal The Journal of Politics 81(4): 1420–1433 (with Efrén O. Pérez and Maggie Deichert) [doi]
Media: [The Guardian]
Abstract: Preserving national unity in light of diversity—e pluribus unum—is a challenge in immigrant-receiving nations like the U.S. We claim that endorsement of this view is structured by the varied bond between ethnic and national identity among immigrant minorities and native majorities, a proposition we test across three studies of U.S. Latinos and Whites. Study 1 uses national survey data to show that ethnic and national identity are associated with support for this objective, though in varied ways among these groups. Studies 2 and 3 sharpen these results experimentally by illuminating the role of elite rhetoric in forging these connections. We show that elite remarks about the (in-)compatibility of ethnic and national identity motivate support for e pluribus unum through the specific attachment it influences. That is, elite rhetoric causes shifts in ethnic or national identity, which then asymmetrically shapes support for e pluribus unum among Latinos and Whites.

2019 Trumped by Race: Explanations for Race’s Influence on Whites’ Votes in 2016 Quarterly Journal of Political Science 14(3): 313–328 [doi]
Media: [The New York Times][The Week][Yahoo News]
Abstract: Many analyses of the 2016 presidential election suggest that Whites’ racial attitudes played a central role in explaining vote choice, and to a degree greater than preceding years. Most explanations for this outcome emphasize the role that Donald Trump’s campaign played in activating these attitudes. These stories, however, elide an alternative explanation for these same results: a growing polarization in racial attitudes by party driven by changes among Democrats between 2012 and 2016. This matters because the two possibilities—campaign dynamics that increase the relevance of certain attitudes on vote choice or long-term distributional shifts—can produce observationally equivalent regression coefficients. I urge caution against offering singular explanations for why race mattered in 2016 because while it surely did, it is less clear how and, especially, for whom.

2019 Knock out Blows or the Status Quo?: Capturing Momentum in the 2016 Primaries The Journal of Politics 81(3): 997–1013 (with Joshua D. Clinton and Marc Trussler) [doi]
Media: [The National Review]
Abstract: Notions of momentum loom large in accounts of presidential primaries despite im- precision about its meaning and measurement. Defining momentum as the impact election outcomes have on candidate support above and beyond existing trends and leveraging a rolling cross-section of more than 325,000 interviews to examine daily changes in candidate support in the 2016 nomination contests reveals scant evidence that primary election outcomes uniquely affect respondents’ preferences over the competing candidates. Preferences sometimes respond to election outcomes, but the estimated effects are indistinguishable from effects occurring on non-election days. There is also no evidence that those who should be most receptive to new information are more affected by election outcomes. As a result, our investigation strongly suggests that election outcomes are not uniquely important for affecting opinions and shaping the outcome of nomination contests.

Working Papers and Work in Progress

The Limits of Agenda Setting? Framing Race’s Importance

The (Un)Changing Nature of Whites’ Racial Attitudes: Distinguishing Sincere and Artifactual Sources of Attitude Change

Explaining the Racial Gap in Carceral State Attitudes (with Allison Anoll and Bryce Williams-Tuggle)

The Mass Public’s View of Implicit Bias, with Implications for Scientific Communication in a Polarized Age (with Cindy D. Kam)

Improving the Measurement of Authoritarianism (with Stanley Feldman and Marc Hetherington)

Worldview and Partisanship (with Marc Hetherington and Pamela Conover)