Published or Forthcoming Peer Reviewed Papers
Federalist democracies often hold concurrent elections for multiple offices that vary with respect to scope and scale.
A potential consequence of simultaneously voting for multiple offices is that the personal appeal of candidates in a high-profile race
affects electoral outcomes in less salient races. In this paper I estimate the magnitude of such coattail effects from governors onto
other concurrently elected statewide executive officers using a unique data set of county election returns for all statewide executive
office elections in the United States from 1987 to 2010. I exploit the disproportionate support that candidates receive from geographically
proximate voters, which is often referred to as the friends-and-neighbors vote, to isolate variation in the personal appeal of candidates.
The point estimates from my preferred specifications show that a one-percentage-point increase in the personal vote received by a gubernatorial
candidate increases their party's secretary of state and attorney general candidates vote shares by 0.1 to 0.2 percentage points. In contrast,
personal votes for a secretary of state or attorney general candidate have no effect on the performance of their party's
gubernatorial and other down-ballot candidates.
Abstract: Survey questions about quantities offer a number of advantages over more common
qualitative questions. However, concerns about survey respondents' abilities to accurately report numbers have limited the use of quantitative
questions. This paper shows quantitative questions are feasible and useful for the study of economic voting. First, survey respondents are
capable of accurately assessing familiar economic quantities, such as the price of gas. Second, careful question design - in particular
providing respondents with benchmark quantities - can reduce measurement error due to respondents not understanding the scale on which more
complex quantities, such as the unemployment rate, are measured. Third, combining quantitative and qualitative questions sheds light on where
partisan bias enters economic assessments: in perceiving, judging, or reporting economic quantities.
Abstract: We investigate the effects of ballot order on the outcomes of California city council and
school board elections. Candidates listed first win office between four and five percentage
points more often than expected absent order effects. This first candidate advantage is larger in
races with more candidates and for higher quality candidates. The first candidate advantage is
similar across contexts: the magnitude of the effect is not statistically distinguishable in city
council and in school board elections, in races with and without an open seat, and in races
consolidated and not consolidated with statewide general elections. Standard satisficing models
cannot fully explain ballot order effects in our dataset of multi-winner elections.
Abstract: Forms of convenience voting,
including voting-by-mail (VBM), provide citizens the opportunity
to cast ballots without being exposed to the information revealed in the final weeks leading up to
Election Day. This creates the possibility that informational differences will cause VBM and
polling place voters to vote differently. We test this hypothesis by looking at whether the
increased use of VBM at the precinct-level relates to candidatesí vote shares in the 2008
California presidential primary. An election administration policy in California in which all
voters are assigned to VBM based on an arbitrary threshold of the number of registered voters is
exploited to overcome the identification problem caused by the self-selection of voters into
VBM. We show that the use of VBM affects the relative performance of candidates remaining
in the race and increases the probability of selecting withdrawn candidates. Our findings have
implications both for election administration policy and for the study of campaign effects in
American elections. Election officials should consider waiting until closer to Election Day to
send out mail ballots, or instruct people on ballots to make sure to wait until they are ready to
make a decision before voting.
Abstract: During the contest for Kansas attorney general in 2006, an organization sent out 6 pieces of mail criticizing the incumbentís
conduct in office. We exploit a discontinuity in the rule used to select which households received the mailings to identify the causal effect of mail on vote choice and voter turnout.
We find these mailings had both a statistically and politically significant effect on the challengerís vote share. Our estimates suggest that a ten percentage point increase in the amount
of mail sent to a precinct increased the challengerís vote share by approximately three percentage points. Furthermore, our results suggest that the mechanism for this increase was persuasion
rather than mobilization.
Abstract: This paper uses discontinuities imposed by voting-age restrictions to identify
the effect of past participation on subsequent participation decisionsand partisan identification. It compares participation decisions and partisan
affiliations of individuals who turned eighteen just before past elections with those who turned eighteen just after. It presents three main
findings. First, past presidential election eligibility increases the probability of subsequent participation. For example, I find that 2000
presidential election eligibility increased participation in the 2004 presidential election by 3.0 to 4.5 percent, which suggests that 2000
presidential election participation increased the probability of 2004 election participation by 4.9 to 7.3 percentage points. Second, participation
in past presidential elections affects partisan identification. Third, these effects continue to persist for several election cycles after a voter
first becomes eligible.
Abstract: Although there are compelling theoretical reasons to believe that unequal
political representation in a legislature leads to an unequal distribution of funds, testing such theories empirically is challenging
because it is difficult to separate the effects of representation from the effects of either population levels or changes. We leverage the
natural experiment generated by infrequent and discrete Census apportionment cycles to estimate the distributional effects of malapportionment
in the U.S. House of Representatives. We find that changes in representation cause changes in the distribution of federal outlays to the states.
Our method is exportable to any democratic system in which reapportionments are regular, infrequent, and non-strategic.
Abstract: This paper focuses on the strategic timing of elections by agenda-setters in direct
democracy settings. Because concurrent elections affect turnout, scheduling referenda
for different elections will produce different median voters. I hypothesize that agendasetters
with power over the timing of a referendum will schedule the referendum in
conjunction with the other set of races that produce a policy closest to their preferred
outcome. Consistent with the theory, I show that Wisconsin school boardsí use of special
elections for school referenda are related to differences in the revealed preferences of
voters in low and high turnout elections.
Abstract: American voters are assigned to vote at a particular polling
location (e.g., a church, school, etc.). We show these assigned
polling locations can influence how people vote. Analysis of a
recent general election demonstrates that people who were assigned
to vote in schools were more likely to support a school
funding initiative. This effect persisted even when controlling for
votersí political views, demographics, and unobservable characteristics
of individuals living near schools. A follow-up experiment
using random assignment suggests that priming underlies these
effects, and that they can occur outside of conscious awareness.
These findings underscore the subtle power of situational context
to shape important real-world decisions.