Research

Preprint copies of publications available upon request.

“The Impact of Course Structure on Students’ Political Efficacy and Confidence-in-Knowledge in Introduction to American Government Courses” (with Eve M. Ringsmuth). Journal of Political Science Education. [link to article] [replication data]

Abstract: Intro to American Govt is a foundational gen ed course meant to promote understanding of and participation in democracy. But, there is substantial variation in how the course is structured in terms of size, modality, and pedagogy. We leverage variation in course structures to assess their impact on students’ growth in political efficacy and knowledge-confidence while taking the course. The results show that active/interactive pedagogy is a key promoter of student learning about politics.


“Copy, Paste, Legislate, Succeed? The Effect of Policy Plagiarism on Policy Success in the American States” (with Robert M. Dorrell, Jr.). Policy & Politics. [link to article] [replication data]

Abstract: Despite previous research legislators’ use of “copy and paste” methods, we do not know whether plagiarizing policies affects the success of the policy. We propose and test competing hypotheses by measuring policy plagiarism and policy success for organ donation, e-cigarette, and anti-bullying legislation across the states. We find that more copying is associated with less policy success. The results provide insights into the risks of copy and paste methods for effective lawmaking.


“Finding DORI: Using Item Response Theory to Measure Difficulty of Voter Registration in the U.S. and Its Impact on Voters” (with Matthew Motta and Rebekah Herrick). American Politics Research. [link to article] [replication data]

Abstract: We validate a new Difficulty of Registration Index (DORI) using hybrid item response theory (IRT) on five key dimensions of registration for each state from 2004 to 2020. Since 2004, most states eased registration processes, especially Democratic legislatures in racially diverse and young states. We find that DORI is associated with increased probability that voters experience problems registering and failing to turnout, especially young voters.

Average DORI scores for each state from 2004-2020. Higher bars indicate more restrictive voter registration procedures.

“Complexity, Resources, and Text Borrowing in State Legislatures” (with Eric Hansen). Journal of Public Policy. [link to article] [replication data]

Abstract: We use text analysis tools to measure the similarity and complexity of bill texts from 18 policies that diffused across the 50 states from 1983-2014. We find that complexly worded policies are reinvented more than simply worded policies. We also find that low-resource legislatures copy simply worded policies, but tend to reinvent complex policies just like high-resource legislatures. This is encouraging: legislatures dedicate limited resources toward adapting complex policies for their states.


Labor policy restrictiveness, 1993-2014. Darker shades of gray indicate more restrictions on workers.

“Who Passes Restrictive Labor Policy? A View from the States” (with Laura Bucci)Journal of Public Policy. [link to article] [replication data]
Abstract: We test whether public support for organized labor constrains GOP-controlled state governments from pursuing restrictions on labor unions. We create new estimates of state-level public support for unions by income tercile. We find that Republicans are less likely to adopt Right-to-Work and other restrictive labor polices when union support among middle and low income earners is high and union membership is high. The results add to the ongoing study of unequal representation and responsiveness in the U.S.


“Chasing Disparity: Economic Development Incentives and Income Inequality in the U.S. States” State Politics & Policy Quarterly. [link to article] [replication data]

Abstract: States spend billions on economic development incentives each year in order to encourage businesses to locate in their state. Using state-level data from 1999-2014, I find that increased incentive spending is associated with higher income inequality. Despite trying to generate greater prosperity, states may be inadvertently exacerbating inequality.

Figure 3 Distributed Lag
Effect of incentive spending on inequality over time compared to other important factors

“Copy and Paste Lawmaking: Legislative Professionalism and Policy Reinvention in the States” (with Eric Hansen and Virginia Gray). American Politics Research. [link to article]

Screen Shot 2019-06-10 at 2.04.21 AM
An example of copying and pasting legislation

Stand ALEC Pic
Diffusion of Stand Your Ground laws from ALEC model bill

“Interest Group Influence in Policy Diffusion Networks” (with Kristin Garrett). State Politics and Policy Quarterly. [link to article]

Abstract: Scholars suggest that interest groups affect policy diffusion by creating a network of information between states that aids in the spread of innovative policy. But, current methods for studying diffusion cannot parse interest group influence. Instead, we use text similarity scores in a social network analysis to explore whether early-adopting states or interest groups are more central to the network. We find it is the text of interest group model legislation that is central to the spread of innovations abortion restrictions and Stand Your Ground laws.


Additional Publications

“You Catch More Flies with Honey: An Analysis of PAC Punishment and Congressional Vote Switching” Interest Groups & Advocacy. [link to article]


“Do Unions Punish Democrats? Free-Trade Votes and Labor PAC Contributions, 1999-2012” (with Michele M. Hoyman). Political Research Quarterly. [link to article]


“Client Group Influence and Economic Development Organizations: Evidence from North Carolina, Nevada, and Oregon” Administration & Society. [link to article]


“Captured Development: Industry Influence and State Economic Development Subsidies in the Great Recession Era” (with Virginia Gray). Economic Development Quarterly. [link to article]


Also of interest: book chapter on economic development in Politics in the American States: A Comparative Analysis, and book chapter with Justin Gross on network concepts, measurement, and data collection in Oxford Handbook of Political Networks