My research agenda focuses on public opinion and legislative responsiveness.
- On the public opinion side, this entails studying how individuals form policy opinions and evaluate the performance of political leaders. A significant part of this research agenda involves examining how external shocks such as natural or man-made disasters alter public opinions and create the preconditions for punctuated policy change. Details about the NSF-funded project to study public opinion following Hurricane Katrina can be found here or view a summary of the book Catastrophic Politics: How Extraordinary Events Redefine Public Perceptions of Government (2012, Cambridge University Press). As part of this, I am also interested in understanding how individual-level characteristics such as political predispositions and personality characteristics moderate responsiveness to political rhetoric.
- My interests in legislative responsiveness center on understanding how electoral rules and legislative institutions shape competition for office and incentives for legislative behavior. In several articles, I’ve examined how legislators’ ambitions for higher office foster representation of citizen interests. As a PI on the Candidate Emergence Study, a multi-year project that examines the competition in U.S. House races, I’ve examined the decision process of strong potential candidates as they consider running for office with a special focus on state legislator ambitions and decisions.