Research

Preprint copies of publications available upon request.

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

Abstract: Despite previous research on the tendency for legislators to “copy and paste” policies, 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. This study provides insights on how restrictive registration procedures can change the shape of the electorate and undermine political equality.

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 complex policies are reinvented more than simple policies and that high-resource legislatures reinvent bills more than low-resource legislatures on average. But, low-resource legislatures reinvent complex policies at about the same rate as high-resource legislatures. This is normatively encouraging: legislatures dedicate limited resources toward adapting complex policies for their jurisdictions.


“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. These results speak to the ongoing study of unequal representation and responsiveness in the states.

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

“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 incentives leads to higher income inequality by reducing redistribution over the long run. Despite trying to generate greater prosperity, states may be inadvertently exacerbating inequality by incentivizing businesses.

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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