Projects

Angry mobilization and institutional suppression: Political behavior and gerrymandering in the United States (Dissertation chapter)*

This project explores the relationship between citizen behavior and undemocratic institutions. I argue that behavior is conditioned on whether or not a person is advantaged or disadvantaged by a suppressive electoral institution and anger is a key factor in explaining variation in citizen engagement. Through a survey experiment using the case of American gerrymandering, I find that learning about the effects of skewed district lines causes people whose votes are being under-weighted to get angry and boost their engagement. Those whose votes are over-weighted by manipulated district lines experience no emotion and choose not to politically engage. This research has implications for voter mobilization and engagement among groups who are disadvantaged by undemocratic electoral rules.

Counterfactual Apportionment: The effects of malapportionment in hybrid regimes with evidence from Malaysia. (With Daniel Magleby)*

Nominally democratic institutions may mute the influence of some groups even when those groups are not overtly denied the opportunity to participate in elections. In Malaysia, the clever delineation of district boundaries is one way the hybrid regime excludes particular groups that might otherwise present as a potential political threat. Identifying boundaries as the cause of undemocratic outcomes can be problematic though. In particular, the distribution of voters might constrain mapmakers to draw a set of districts that favors or disfavors a particular group. To overcome this challenge, we use a computer to randomly redraw Malaysia’s electoral map into a set of hypothetical, fair maps against which we can make valid comparisons. Using this approach and a new dataset containing information about the geographic distribution and ethnicity of Malaysia’s voters, we make valid inferences regarding the extent to which the malapportioned map of Malaysia systematically excludes and mutes the influence the urban Chinese vote. Our approach allows us to draw a clear connection between the regime drawn districts and electoral distortions in Malaysia. Moreover, our findings show that manipulation of boundaries within states (rather than malapportioned representation between) drives disparities in representation in Malaysia.

The effects of gerrymandering on political behavior: The case of North Carolina (Dissertation Chapter)

In this study, I leverage a natural experiment that exists with the redistricting process in North Carolina. Through a difference in difference design I trace how voters differentially respond to gerrymandering among North Carolinians. I theorize that a voter who is disadvantaged through gerrymandering in one election and then exists in a fairer district in the next will increase their likelihood of political participation. Likewise those who are disadvantaged in one election and then advantaged in another will decrease their likelihood of political participation.

The role of fear and anger in predicting politically disadvantaged behavior (Dissertation Chapter)

This research assumes that emotions matter and that not all emotions invoke the same type of behavior. In this paper, I focus solely on those voters who are not only disadvantaged electorally but have historically been disenfranchised from political participation in general. Assuming that marginalized groups possess lower efficacy perception levels, I theorize that these groups will experience more fear than anger when learning about the undemocratic effects of gerrymandering; However, through a survey experiment, I test if shifting the frame from a loss to a gain will increase the participant's likelihood of politically participating. This research holds important implication for the current discourse on American electoral politics. I argue that advantaged Republicans show no emotion and are unmoved in their willingness to participate when presented with the idea of unfair or undemocratic elections. However, disadvantaged Democrats, particularly those minorities who have been historically disenfranchised will experience fear but be moved to participate when their participation is framed as an inevitable loss. I argue that this is the case even if a voter exists at the lowest point of an uneven playing field.

Emotion and mobilization in illiberal regimes: A case study in Malaysian electoral politics

In this project I test my theory of the effects undemocratic institutions and electoral behavior in Malaysia. To show how voter participation hinges on emotion and a person's respective institutional (dis)advantage, this project implements a survey experiment gauging citizen response to the effects of malapportionment, endemic in Malaysian electoral politics. I theorize that those who are advantaged (e.g. ethnic Malay and rural dwellers) will not experience anger and will be less likely to engage in activities to make elections more fair when they learn of their institutional advantage. On the other hand, those disadvantaged (e.g. urban Chinese) by the same undemocratic institution will experience anger and increase their engagement.

Angry White Parents: How Emotions Mobilize Participation in Local School Board Politics (With Zoe Walker)

This project explores the recent uptick in citizen involvement in school board elections across the country. Through a novel survey experiment, we theorize that white parents from either party will be more likely to attend and engage in a school board meeting if presented with a proposal to change a curriculum to reflect ideas originally outlined in critical race theory. We argue that participation variation extends from an angry emotional response as well as high levels of political efficacy. Likewise we argue that angry white parents will also be less likely to vote for black school board candidates.

*Completed Manuscript