My work stems from my core interest in how identity shapes attitude formation, vote choice, and participation.
"'Because He's Gay': How Race, Gender, and Sexuality Shape Perceptions of Judicial Fairness." (with Ana Bracic, Tyler Johnson, and Kathleen Tipler). Forthcoming. Journal of Politics.
How does a judge's identity affect perceptions of their ability to preside fairly? We theorize that identity categories operate as ideological cues, and that the public views judges perceived as ideologically proximate as fairer, more impartial, and more inspiring of trust in courts broadly. Using a conjoint survey experiment with a diverse national sample, we find support for this theory and show that race, gender, and especially sexuality are used as ideological cues. The effect of identities is conditioned by respondent partisanship. Democratic respondents trust judges with marginalized identities more than judges with dominant identities. Republicans are relatively indifferent to judges' race or gender, but are significantly less trusting of gay judges. We also uncover limited effects when a judge presides over a case in which their identity is salient. These results suggest that the public doesn't seek descriptive representation as such, but uses identity categories to achieve ideological congruence.
"Ethnocultural or Generalized? Nationalism and Support for Punitive Immigration Policy." (with Ana Bracic and Allyson Shortle). Forthcoming. Politics, Groups, and Identities.
The revelation that the Trump administration separated immigrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border and placed them in detention facilities sparked protests across the country in 2018. While the policy received swift backlash from the public and was widely derided as running counter to American values and the rule of law, a segment of the American public supports the policy. We argue that ethnocultural forms of nationalism—beliefs about religious, ethnic, and gendered criteria for "true Americanness"—help explain support for family separations. We test this argument using two surveys collected two years apart. In both data sets, we find substantial evidence that ethnocultural forms of nationalism are linked to support for family separation, while generalized nationalism is not.
"Black Lives, White Kids: White Parenting Practices Following Black-Led Protests." (with Allison Anoll and Drew Engelhardt). 2022. Perspectives on Politics, 20(4): 1328-1345.
Summer 2020 saw widespread protests under the banner, Black Lives Matter. Coupled with the global pandemic that kept America’s children in the predominant care of their parents, we argue the latter half of 2020 offers a unique moment to consider Whites’ race-focused parenting practices. We use Google Trends data and posts on public parenting Facebook pages to show that the remarkable levels of protest activity in summer 2020 served as a focusing event that not only directed Americans’ attention to racial concepts but connected those concepts to parenting. Using a national survey of non-Hispanic White parents with White school-age children, we show that most White parents spoke with their children about race during this period and nearly three-quarters took actions to increase racial diversity in their children’s environment or introduce them to racial politics. But the data also show parenting practices rife with uncertainty and deep partisan, gender, and socioeconomic divisions. Drawing upon our findings, we call for a renewed focus on political socialization that considers how parenting choices are shaped by political events—including Black Lives Matter— and the possible long-term consequences of racial parenting practices on politics.
"Contact and Context: How Municipal Traffic Stops Shape Citizen Character." (with Allison Anoll and Derek Epp). 2022. Journal of Politics, 84(4): 2272-2277.
Previous research shows that how the state conducts itself influences citizen attitudes and behaviors though direct and proximal contact; we show the actions of state agents ripple out even further. Joining bureaucratic data on a publicly observable state behavior—racial disparities in investigatory traffic stops—with survey data, this article shows that residing in a place with extreme racial disparities in traffic stops is associated with depressed confidence in the police even in the absence of more direct forms of contact. This relationship does not extend to participatory behaviors, however, where only personal stop history and proximal contact are predictors. Racially disparate policing practices, then, may undermine law enforcement legitimacy in a community as a whole, but mobilization to change policy appears limited to individuals who more directly experience the carceral state.
***Journal of Politics blog post on article available here***
"Police Abuse or Just Deserts? Deservingness Perceptions and State Violence." (with Shea Streeter). 2022. Public Opinion Quarterly, 86(S1): 499-522.
Divergent public responses to police brutality incidents demonstrate that, for some, police violence is an injustice that demands remediation, while for others state violence is justice served. We develop a novel survey experiment in which we randomize the race and gender of a victim of police violence, and then provide respondents with an opportunity to establish justice via compensation. We uncover small but consistent effects that financial restitution is most supported for a White female detainee and least supported for a Black female detainee and this is largely driven by White respondents. Beyond the treatment effects, we show that Black respondents are much more likely to perceive detainees as deserving of restitution; across all treatments, Black respondents are 58 percent more likely than Whites to support a financial settlement. We further show that White respondents’ perceptions of deservingness are highly related to their perceptions of who is at fault for the beating—the detainee or the police—and whether the detainee was involved in crime. Black respondents remain likely to award a settlement even if they think the detainee was at fault and involved in crime. Our results provide further evidence that perceptions of who deserves restorative justice for state violence are entangled with race in targeted ways.
"Gender Attitudes, Support for Teachers' Strikes, and Legislative Elections." (with Ana Bracic, Sarina Rhinehart, and Allyson Shortle). 2020. PS: Political Science & Politics, 53(3): 447-452.
In April 2018, after the state legislature failed to pass a funding package to increase spending on schools and teacher pay, educators across Oklahoma walked out on their jobs to protest at the Capitol for nine days. Because education is a policy area typically associated with women, we argue that the 2018 teacher walkout activated gender attitudes such that sexism was associated with voter preferences and behavior in the 2018 midterm elections. We tested this association using Election Day exit-poll surveys of more than 1,300 voters in Oklahoma City in 2016 and 2018 and found that sexism attitudes were linked to support for the teacher walkout, educational spending, and teacher pay raises in 2018. Support for the walkout was associated with 2018 Democratic vote choice, and sexism was associated more strongly with education policy preferences in 2018 than in 2016. The findings support our argument that the teacher walkout increased attention to education and implicated gender. Although education is a public good primarily benefiting children, sexism can play a role in whether voters support it.
"Do Felony Disenfranchisement Laws (De-)Mobilize? A Case of Surrogate Participation" (with Allison Anoll). 2019. Journal of Politics, 81(4): 1523-1527.
Recent studies provide conflicting accounts of whether indirect contact with the American carceral state mobilizes or not. We revisit this controversy, using a large national survey of African Americans that includes a novel measure of social connections to people with felony convictions to examine spillover dynamics. We find that while ties to the carceral state are widespread, the impact of these connections on participation is moderated by the severity of state-level felony disenfranchisement laws. In states with the most severe disenfranchisement policies, close ties to people with felony convictions increase both voting and non-voting participation, but there is no effect in states with more moderate laws. The findings suggest surrogate participation may be at work, whereby formally removing the rights of one group in a way that seems extreme or unjust mobilizes those close to them, and highlight the importance of policy context on political behavior.
"Is Sexism for White People? Gender Stereotypes, Race, and the 2016 Presidential Election" (with Ana Bracic and Allyson Shortle). 2019. Political Behavior, 41(2): 281-307.
On November 8, 2016 Donald Trump, a man with no office-holding experience, won the Electoral College, defeating the first woman to receive the presidential nomination from a major party. This paper offers the first observational test of how sexism affects presidential vote choice in the general election, adding to the rich literature on gender and candidate success for lower-level offices. We argue that the 2016 election implicated gender through Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and Donald Trump’s sexist rhetoric, and activated gender attitudes such that sexism is associated with vote choice. Using an Election Day exit poll survey of over 1,300 voters conducted at 12 precincts in a mid-size city and a national survey of over 10,000 White and Black Americans, we find that a politically defined measure of sexism—the belief that men are better suited emotionally for politics than women—predicts support for Trump both in terms of vote choice and favorability. We find the effect is strongest and most consistent among White voters. However, a domestically defined measure of sexism—whether men should be in control of their wives—offers little explanatory power over the vote. In total, our results demonstrate the importance of gender in the 2016 election, beyond mere demographic differences in vote choice: beliefs about gender and fitness for office shape both White men and women’s preferences.
***Political Behavior blog post on article available here***
"Does Shared Social Disadvantage Cause Black-Latino Political Commonality?" (with Ariela Schachter). 2019. Journal of Experimental Political Science, 6(1): 43-52.
Shared social disadvantage relative to Whites is assumed to motivate inter-minority political behavior, but we lack causal evidence. Using a survey experiment of 1200 African-Americans, we prompt respondents to consider group social position when evaluating political commonality with Latinos. The experiment describes racial disparities in a randomized domain (education or housing), varies the description of inequality (either Black versus White, Latino versus White, or Black and Latino versus White), and offers half of the respondents a political cue to test whether shared social disadvantage causes Blacks’ perceptions of political commonality with Latinos. We find little evidence of a causal relationship. We conclude that cross-racial minority political coalitions may be more difficult to activate than previously thought.
"Exit Polling: Field Research and Pedagogical Benefits of Community Engagement" (with Ana Bracic and Allyson Shortle). 2017. Oklahoma Politics, 27: 27-54.
This article explores how bringing students into the research process provides pedagogical benefits for undergraduate students, while also offering faculty original data collection opportunities to further their research agendas. The data described in the article come from an Election Day exit poll fielded by sixty-one students in twelve diverse precincts in Oklahoma City and capture over 1200 voters. Response papers from students demonstrate the educational benefits of involving students in research, which cannot be easily replicated in a traditional classroom environment. Bivariate regression analysis of several 2016 state questions demonstrates the quality and utility of the data collected by students: the analysis shows that voters’ support for reclassifying certain non-violent felonies as misdemeanors is negatively associated with anti-Black racial attitudes; that preferences for lower levels of regulation did not drive support for the so-called alcohol modernization initiative; and that the repeal of the ban on spending public money on religion was not particularly popular—even among the most religiously observant voters in the sample. In total, this article shows that when faculty merge their research agendas with their teaching priorities, they can accrue significant gains in both areas.
"The Double-Edged Sword of Disaster Volunteerism: A Study of New Orleans Rebirth Movement Participants" (with Caroline Heldman). 2012. Journal of Political Science Education, 8: 311-332.
We examine the political and personal effects of disaster volunteerism with participants of the New Orleans Rebirth Movement (NORM) using four waves of pre- and post-surveys and qualitative analysis of participant journals. Significant increases are found in internal political efficacy, desire to be active in politics, and value placed on social justice issues, but disaster volunteerism also dramatically increases cynicism and emotional distress. Nearly every NORM participant in the study experienced emotional stress, and 1-in-5 self-medicated as a coping strategy upon one’s return. Disaster volunteerism holds the potential to rapidly accelerate social justice consciousness and activism, even among those already inclined to be active, but the cost is high. Further research on this unique and increasingly popular type of community-based learning is needed.