Working Papers

Please contact me for information about any of the papers referenced below.

“Party Voices and Citizen Efficacy: An Experimental Study” with Fred Cutler and Paul Quirk

Abstract: Electoral rules and party systems are the foundation of representation. However, the literature lacks direct evidence on the psychological mechanisms that link electoral and party systems to citizens’ assessments of efficacy, representation, and the quality of democracy. This article presents an analysis of a novel experimental analysis of citizen efficacy. We simulate the effect of existing party systems and manipulate them in ways credible to our subject-citizens. Our experiment highlights the importance of voice—citizens hearing views they favour articulated in a campaign—in determining feelings of representation. However, our subjects’ responses to the treatments were conditional on their relationships to the political system beyond the laboratory, a finding that has important implications for future experimental work in the area.

“The Media, Partisan Bias and Political Satisfaction in Japan” with Zhen Han and Go Murakami

Abstract: How does the structure of the mass media affect political attitudes? Examining the change in the structure of TV news in Japan and political attitudes over nearly 40 years of election studies, we argue that exposure to the news media can decrease voters’ level of political satisfaction when it provides more critical views of the incumbent government. We find that in Japan changes in TV news towards a more liberal media structure in the mid-1980s, which increased the amount of commentary and negative portrayal of politics, is associated with lower levels of satisfaction with politics. However, this effect is conditional, occurring only amongst voters who consistently support opposition political parties.

Leveraging Discontinuities to Identify Party System Effects” with Angela O’Mahony

Abstract: The major frameworks for understanding the comparative democratic institutions emphasize the importance of variation in party systems. Scholars have identified dozens of policy areas and political outcomes influenced by party systems. However, while substantial strides have been made in strengthening quantitative analyses of politics in recent years, scholarship assessing party system effects remains primarily reliant on measures and statistical approaches that are inadequate for properly understanding party system effects. This article presents a new approach to identifying party system that draws insight from the regression discontinuity design literature, combined with an understanding of the logic of the formation of legislative majorities. We replicate and extend several existing studies that test for party system effects on a wide range of political outcomes, showing the importance of testing measures that incorporate both the underlying seat shares of parties and the discontinuities in party systems associated with majority formation. We highlight specific strategies for scholars who wish to assess party system effects in detail, even when the data are not ideal for leveraging RDD for strong causal inferences, as well as options for scholars who merely wish to ‘control’ for party system effects.

“Leaders, Voters and Rent-Seeking Parties”

Abstract: Principal-agent (political agency) models are frequently used to represent the fundamental dynamics of the relationship between voters and politicians. However, standard models generally have not captured key dynamics in the three-way relationship between leaders, parties and voters. Whereas much of the informal principal-agent literature has emphasized how parties may improve the accountability of leaders to voters, it is clear that the accountability of leaders to parties may also divert leaders’ accountability to voters and potentially reduce voter welfare. This paper presents a simple political agency model of the relationship between leaders, parties and voters to capture this dynamic and empirically tests a novel prediction from the model as to how rent-seeking parties may choose to frequently replace leaders regardless of the leader’s actions. This implication finds empirical support in in the patterns of post-WWII party leader durability and change in seventy parties across eighteen developed parliamentary democracies.

“The Extension of External Voting Rights” with Nathan Allen and Angela O’Mahony

Abstract: Why do countries extend the right to vote to their non-resident citizens? The number of countries granting extra-territorial voting rights increased from only 17 in 1980 to nearly 100 in 2011. This paper analyzes a newly collected dataset on the adoption of extra-territorial voting rights, covering 170 countries around the world from 1980 to 2011. We argue that both domestic and international factors play a crucial role in the adoption of extra-territorial voting rights. Countries with poor economic performance are more likely to adopt extraterritorial voting rights, as are those whose neighbors have extra-territorial voting rights. The former result suggests that vulnerable governments may seek to strategically broaden their base of support, while the latter suggests an important role for policy diffusion, learning and/or regional norm development.