Hire a Ph.D.

Presenting the 2014-2015 Job Market Candidates

The University of Michigan's graduate program in Political Science is tremendously proud to present our 2014-2015 job market candidates.  Please contact the candidates, their advisors, or Vincent Hutchings, Placement Director, for further information.  

Allison Dale-Riddle, American Politics

Dissertation Title:  Playing with Prejudice: How Political Geography Affects Elite Strategies to Invoke Social Group Animosity

When crafting a campaign strategy, political candidates must decide which groups of voters they will target as part of their winning coalition, and which tactics they will use to mobilize these voters.  Given the tensions between certain social groups, and given the powerful influence these tensions can have on political attitudes, it is tempting for candidates to harness these animosities for electoral gain.  In my dissertation, I outline the conditions under which elites strategically use ads with subtle messages designed to invoke animosities among voters of different racial, ethnic, economic and religious groups.  Using insights from group-threat theories of politics, I identify how the socio-demographic make-up of an area affects the salience of out-group animus in the minds of voters and, consequently, the likelihood of elites exploiting those antagonisms for electoral gain.  Through content analysis of ads from recent presidential elections, I find that geographic proximity to a sizable and politically-salient out-group increases both voter animosity and the likelihood of the occurrence of prejudice-inducing ads.

Link to full bio and vita

Cassandra Grafström, Comparative Politics

Dissertation Title: Election Timing or Economic Voting?
The economy and elections are deeply intertwined. The economic voting literature posits that economic performance drives electoral outcomes, with a weak economy harming incumbents at the polls (e.g., Duch and Stevenson 2008; Lewis-Beck 1988; Powell and Whitten 1993). Because the economy affects election outcomes is also affects election timing as prime ministers “surf the economy” by calling elections during economic upturns whenever possible (e.g., Ito 1991; Kayser 2006; Smith 2004). The economic voting literature has largely ignored this second effect of economics for elections, assuming highly informed voters who act upon politicians with no agency in their own reelection. This dissertation studies how endogenous election timing impacts the economic vote. I develop a theory of how institutions constrain and empower partisan actors in both the government and the opposition to call elections at their preferred time and draw out implications for how different aspects of economic performance matter at the polls under different types of elections.

Link to full bio and vita

Alex D. Jakle, Public Law

Dissertation Title: Stealing Signs: How We Use Cues from Others to Learn About the Law

I investigate how individuals learn about laws and rules from lay acquaintances and social networks - rather than from officials or official sources - and how individuals’ identities shape not only their knowledge of the law, but their tendencies to obey or disobey it. Using elite amateur baseball players and their illicit relationships with agents as a case study, I reveal a complex social structure that ties agent use to elite status, while at the same time hiding the NCAA rules violations associated with it. Player's narrative identity, propensity for self-deception, and culturally defined social roles show how legal consciousness can broaden the scope of traditional cue theory, and how cue theory can help explain the propagation of social norms by those whom they seem to mis-serve.

Link to full bio and vita

Kirill Kalinin, Comparative Politics

Dissertation Title: Analysis of Election Frauds and Preference Falsification in Authoritarian Regimes

How can we measure election fraud cross-nationally?  Can election polls assist us in validation of election fraud estimates obtained from electoral data?  My dissertation is focused on methodological and theoretical aspects of statistical detection of election fraud, using both cross-national electoral data and the survey data.  In my work, following T.Kuran’s concept of preference falsification, I develop the model and test it empirically using a wide range of election forensics methods and national survey experiments conducted during Russian Presidential election, 2012.  My general findings suggest the presence of social desirability bias in the estimates of election polls and the close relationship between social desirability and election frauds.

Link to full bio and vita

Su-Hyun Lee, Comparative and World Politics

Dissertation Title:   Interests, Institutions, and Trade Politics in Democracies    

How do elected representatives choose the recipients of trade protection among many domestic groups adversely affected by international competition? Why do some domestic interests receive favorable levels of trade protection than others, even without actively engaging in lobbying? My dissertation argues that the allocation of protectionist rents across the electorate is explained by the interaction of two factors: first, the economic structure of domestic interests which delineates the scope and characteristics of political cleavages over trade openness; secondly, electoral institutions and conditions which define the political importance of partisan and geographical constituencies to elected officials. Using data on sectoral protection and election outcomes in the United States from 1989 through and 2004, Chapters 3-5 demonstrate that the political competitiveness of constituencies increases not only the level of protection but also the policy responsiveness of the incumbent party to protectionist interests at both the industry and district levels. Chapter 6 extends my argument by examining the skill-bias of trade protection in 52 democracies. This chapter maintains that that the extent to which representative policymakers target tariff protection to skill-intensive industries over unskilled-intensive industries depends on the interaction of a country’s factor endowments and the level of political particularism in electoral systems.

                                                                                         Link to full bio and vita

William MacMillan, American Politics

Dissertation Title:   Agencies and Appropriations     

Congress frequently attempts to influence policy through squeezing agency budgets. However, agencies are slow to respond to a budget cut, and usually are just as slow to adjust upwards with a rise in appropriations. In my dissertation, I argue that agencies largely appear indifferent to money because agencies build slack into current policy that explicitly includes their expectations about future rounds of funding.

Link to full bio and vita

Jennifer Miller-Gonzalez, Comparative Politics

Dissertation Title  Redefining the Nation: Center-Right Party Outreach Toward Ethnic Minorities in Western Europe.  

Why do mainstream center-right parties in Western Europe seek the votes of immigrants at some time and not others? What are the implications of party strategies for immigrants’ future political incorporation? In my dissertation, I show that party strategy toward immigrations is more nuanced than standard treatments assume. Rather than treat all immigrants the same, center-right parties distinguish between those with citizenship and those without, and this difference drives their outreach strategies and helps to explain puzzling party behavior.

Link to full bio and vita  


Patrick O'Mahen, American Politics

Dissertation Title:  Public Broadcasting, Public Funding and the Public Interest:  How Government Broadcasting Subsidies increase Political Knowledge and Participation  

As shown by Mitt Romeny's recent proposal to fund Sesame Street with advertising, providing taxpayer subsidies for public broadcasters is a flashpoint in policy debates in both the United States and other democracies. Past research has suggested that public broadcasting has a positive effect on levels of political knowledge and participation. However, my research demonstrates that it is specifically the government subsidies of public broadcasters that drive increases in knowledge and voter turnout, not merely the existence of a public broadcaster.

Link to full bio and vita


Christopher Sullivan, Comparative Politics and International Relations

Dissertation Title: Undermining Resistance: Mobilization, Repression, and the Enforcement of Political Order

This project examines the use of political repression in Guatemala from 1975-1985. The research focuses specifically on repression employed preemptively against potential opponents who are not currently threatening the government but are perceived to have the capacity for challenging the regime in the future. It seeks to understand why governments employ these repressive policies, what impacts such repression has on citizen decisions to challenge the regime, and when repression ends. In the analysis, the project examines a unique dataset of clandestine state and dissident behavior coded from the confidential records of the Guatemalan National Police. Implications are drawn for developing policies to protect human rights and prevent the escalation of conflict.

Link to full bio and vita

Alexander Von Hagen-Jamar, International Relations

Dissertation Title: Arming and Regime Types: How Political Institutions, Foreign and Domestic Threats, and Distributive Politics Interact to Shape Military Spending.

My dissertation asks: why do states invest the amount they do in their militaries? I argue that political institutions are a crucial component of the answer. Not only do they have an independent effect, as is already shown in the literature, but they shape how regimes respond to their environment, particularly foreign and domestic security threats. For example, while existing studies show that democracies spend less on their military that other states, I find that they spend less when foreign threat is low, but increase spending more in response to elevated levels of threat. I also evaluate sources of autocratic variation, and how political institutions shape what is perceived as a threat.

Link to full bio and vita

Matthew Wells, World Politics

Dissertation Title: The Commitment Problem in Occupier-Conducted Counterinsurgency

Why do some states win counterinsurgency wars in territories they occupy abroad while others do not? I argue that states whose leaders who can generate credible audience costs in an effort to signal resolve will, paradoxically, be the least able to endure the costs of fighting. Efforts that typically demonstrate commitment are seen as cheap talk by insurgent actors, who seek to raise the costs of fighting to change the preferences of a leader’s base away from support and to opposition to the occupation. I use quantitative and qualitative evidence from across and within conflicts to paint a more nuanced view of the structural determinants of the outcomes of occupier-conducted counterinsurgency. It is not the aversion to casualties or financial costs per se that lead particular regimes to defeat, rather it is their inability to credibly signal resolve and commitment to their opponents in the face of these costs that produces such an outcome. This finding has significant implications for the conduct of security policy.

Link to full bio and vita

Michael Zilis, American Politics

Dissertation Title:  I Respectfully Dissent: Linking Judicial Voting Behavior, Media Coverage, and Public Responses in the Study of U.S. Supreme Court Decisions

My dissertation is a study of what happens after the Supreme Court rules.  It begins by identifying a critical feature absent from existing studies of judicial policy legitimation: the information conveyed by the press to the public.  The dissertation combines disparate research, theory, and the use of multiple methods to answer important questions about Supreme Court influence.  I develop Dissensus Dynamics Theory to show that voting outcomes on the Supreme Court play the most important role in shaping how the press portrays legal controversies.  The central place of voting outcomes comes from their value to journalists who must characterize judicial decisions while subject to considerable constraints.  In cases where dissent and division on the bench is high, news organizations portray rulings in negative terms, drawing on frames raised by dissenting justices and by critics of the Court.  These findings bridge what have been, until now, disparate lines of inquiry involving law and politics, political communication, and public opinion.

                                                                                           Link to full bio and vita