As we have for the last three election cycles, the Department of Political Science is conducting another series of polls around the 2020 Iowa Caucuses. The Caucuses are a uniquely Iowan political event and provide an opportunity for Iowa State University to highlight the research and outreach of the Department of Political Science and other units across the University.
My work on public opinion and elections is less unified than some of the other research streams. Much of this work is single articles on topics with co-authors, typically former graduate students and colleagues of mine.
Understanding political campaigns is a foundational goal for political scientists. The development of new campaign techniques, especially the use of "micro-targeting" strategies, challenges the fundamental understanding of how presidential campaigns influence our democracy. Unfortunately, social science has not been able to keep up with these developments in campaign tactics. Many basic science questions in political science have been unanswerable due to their massive data collection and data processing needs.
In this project, we are exploring various facets of political interest. While interest is widely seen as an important predictor of political participation, we know much less about why people, either individual voters or the electorate as a whole, change their interest in politics. In the first paper out of this project, we show that the political context, particularly the degree of polarization, the presence of a presidential election, and the party of the president influence the interest of voters differently based on their partisanship. In the second paper, we argue that
Most of my work focuses on national elections and politics. I have written several papers, however, that rely on the differences across the states for leverage to test important questions about politics.
In a new project with several people in Computer Science, we are working on developing automated tools for classifying the tweets of state legislators in to the measurement system developed by the Policy Agendas Project. With these data, we test several theories about why states choose to focus on certain elements of the policy agenda space.
One of the things I enjoyed about being editor of Political Behavior was been the ability to think about the editorial and peer review process. I have initiated several policies as editor about increasing the data accessibility and research transparency, the promotion of articles in social media, and other areas. I have also used the reviewer database from Political Behavior to try to empirically tackle two issues in the review process. The more serious of the two is explores if there are differences in the outcome of the review process based on the
I was the co-PI on the NSF funded REU on Wind Energy, Science, Engineering, and Policy, part of the Wind Energy Initiative at Iowa State. This project brought 10 students to ISU each summer for three years. They partnered with faculty at ISU and conducted research on wind energy. Each group also was involved in a po
The main idea in this research is that the meaning of an election is socially constructed. There may or may not be a signal or mandate in the election, but there isn’t an objective empirical way to determine whether or not this mandate is real. It is possible, however, measure how the media perceives and constructs the meaning of an election. In particular, the key to the media perceiving an election as a mandate is not the size of the presidential margin of victory. Instead, it is the consistency of the winning party’s gains across all elected offices that matter.
One of the main areas of my research is the ways in which different types of attitude strength matter for voter decision-making. Attitude strength is a property of an attitude. It defines how impactful, resistant to change, and consistent an attitude is. There are, however, several different concepts that psychologists have referred to as attitude strength; importance, accessibility, uncertainty, and ambivalence being the most common in the Political Science literature.