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Presenting the 2013-2014 Job Market Candidates

The University of Michigan's graduate program in Political Science is tremendously proud to present our 2013-2014 job market candidates.  Please contact the candidates, their advisors, or Allan Stam, the Placement Director, for further information.  

Welcome from the Placement Director (PDF)

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.

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Abe Gong, American Politics

Dissertation Title:  What the Theories of Political Participation Can Teach Us About the Blogosphere and Vice Versa  

My dissertation taps one of the richest sources of political data in all history---the political blogosphere---to better understand political participation and communication. Blending techniques from social and computer science, I study blogging as an act of political participation. I test existing theories of participation in the context of the blogosphere, and break new theoretical ground by studying attention, hyperlinking, and tone of discourse in the political blogosphere.

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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.

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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.

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Ashley Jardina, American Politics

Dissertation Title: Threats to their Dominant Status: The Role of White Racial Identity in Political Preferences

Existing work in political science has long documented the significant role group identities play in public opinion. Yet when it comes to ingroup racial identity among whites, previous work suggests that it is non-existent, inconsequential, or both. I argue, however, that when factors in the political environment threaten whites’ dominant status, their racial identity is a strong and meaningful predictor of their political preferences. Using twenty years of ANES survey data and a priming experiment conducted among a nationally diverse sample, I provide evidence that Immigration, rapid demographic changes, and the electoral success of non-white candidates, particularly Barack Obama, have increased the extent to which whites’ bring their racial identity to bear on candidates, policies, and group evaluations. Furthermore, I demonstrate that, for some whites, solidarity with their racial group has gone beyond mere identification and can more accurately be characterized as group consciousness—a more politicized form of group solidarity.

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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.

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Nathan Kalmoe, American Politics

Dissertation Title:  Mobilizing Aggression in Mass Politics   

My dissertation took a multiple-methods approach to investigating how subtle shifts in campaign messages interact with audience personality traits to influence electoral behavior. Utilizing two nationally-representative survey experiments and content analysis merged with decades of ANES survey data, I showed how common violent metaphors produce diverging effects on political participation, vote choice, and attitudes about violence in politics based on levels of trait aggression in audiences—a stable propensity for aggression in everyday life. In particular, exposure to violent metaphors bolstered electoral predispositions among trait-aggressive citizens but led low-aggression citizens to rethink habitual responses. They also increased support for political violence among trait-aggressive citizens. This work was among the first demonstrating the moderating role of personality on political framing effects, it revealed the breadth of violent metaphors in presidential campaigns over time, and it introduced aggression as a vital force shaping how citizens think and act in the political world.

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Lisa Langdon Koch, World Politics

Dissertation Title: The path and pace of nuclear weapons programs: Explaining variation in the proliferation process

Why and when do leaders decide to alter the course of their nuclear weapons programs? What influences a state's progress, or lack of progress, in producing nuclear weapons? Using a new dataset on nuclear weapons programs and agencies, I demonstrate that existing theories of nuclear proliferation miss an important driver of state behavior: domestic institutions. I find that civil-military relations and the structure of nuclear bureaucracies affect the pace of nuclear programs, a finding that has practical implications for anti-proliferation policy.

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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.

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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.

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Kerri Leyda Nicoll, American Politics

Dissertation Title:  Understanding Participation and Nonparticipation in Public Anti-poverty Programs: An Interpretive Study

U.S. anti-poverty policies and the programs through which they are implemented have the potential to provide low-income Americans with the support they need to contribute to government and society as productive citizens. A continuing mystery, however, is why so many of these families do not participate in programs for which they are eligible. In an effort to understand how eligible families make decisions about participation in public anti-poverty programs, and in turn, how policy design and implementation might be altered to better serve those living in or near poverty, I have conducted in-depth interviews with 75 low-income heads of household. Using interpretive research methodologies, I find that individuals’ perceptions of their own needs differ dramatically from the assumptions made by programs and that these perceptions relate not only to individuals’ life experiences but also to broader U.S. social and political discourse about poverty.

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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.

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Davin Phoenix, American Politics

Dissertation title: What’s My Motivation?: Exploring the Roles of Identity, Emotions, Messaging and People’s Likelihood of Taking Political Action

This dissertation challenges the contention of political psychology that threat serves as a greater motivator for people to take political action than does the prospect of opportunity. I contend the motivating power of threat is actually moderated by individuals’ social identity group membership. People who identify as members of groups typically dominant in the zero-sum competitive sphere of politics should be mobilized by relevant political threats, whereas people who identify as members of typically subordinated groups should be demobilized. Using whites and African Americans as proxies for dominant and subordinated political groups respectively, I integrate literatures on emotions cognition, and race and politics, to create theoretical models illustrating the distinct responses of blacks and whites to relevant sociopolitical threats. I test these models via analyses of findings from ANES data, and from a survey-embedded experiment conducted among a sample of Detroit-area residents.

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Spencer Piston, American Politics

Dissertation Title: Robin Hoods: The Political Consequences of Attitudes toward the Rich and Poor

In one of the most economically unequal periods in American history, some analysts have argued that Americans care very little about class, that they are indifferent to the fate of the rich and poor. Others argue that Americans admire the rich and derogate the poor. On balance, both of these accounts are incorrect. I show that the preponderance of Americans view the rich with resentment and the poor with sympathy; the rich are believed to possess more than they deserve, while the poor are believed to possess less than they deserve. Moreover, these views of the rich and poor powerfully shape policy opinion and electoral behavior. The findings indicate that the American public is less complicit in income inequality than many accounts have suggested.

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Rachel Augustine Potter, American Politics

Dissertation Title:  Writing the Rules of the Game: The Strategic Logic of Agency Rulemaking

Administrative rules touch on almost every aspect of Americans’ lives, from the fuel standards in the cars we drive to whether the “Plan B” morning-after pill is sold at the local pharmacy. Yet in spite of this clear importance, scholars have very little understanding of how politics affects the ability of agencies to set policy moderately or extremely through rulemaking. In this dissertation project, I develop a formal model in which an agency sets a proposed rule based on the preferences of Congress and the president and subsequently adjusts that policy based on feedback from interest groups. The core insight that arises from the model is that agencies leverage interest group feedback on rulemaking proposals to wrest policy concessions from their political overseers. I test this and other empirical implications of the theory using innovative text analysis techniques on a new dataset of more than 5,000 agency rules. The project speaks broadly to the democratic accountability of the American bureaucracy.

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Timothy J. Ryan, American Politics

Dissertation Title:  No Compromise: The Politics of Moral Conviction

When it comes to politics, people care about the opinions of other people, a peculiar phenomenon that existing theories of public opinion do not explain. My dissertation uses insights from cognitive psychology and evolutionary science to develop a theory of moral conviction in citizen politics. Using several methods, I show that citizens vary in their propensity to moralize, that the tendency is not specific to one side of the political spectrum, and that moral conviction aggravates political conflicts by decreasing participation among moderates, arousing negative emotions, and hardening resistance to political compromise. However, I also identify ways of framing issues that neutralize some of the problematic effects of moral conviction.

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Jessica Steinberg, Comparative Politics

Dissertation Title:  Strategic Sovereignty: Non State Goods Provision and Resistance in Regions of Natural Resource Extraction

The dissertation project explores the strategic dynamics among the government, a natural resource extraction firm, and a local population in order to better understand when local populations receive benefits of natural resource extraction and when distributive conflict arises. Because the presence of natural resources fixes a location and forces a convergence of actors, regions rich in natural resources compel a government to manage trade-offs that might arise between resource revenue and local political support. The first paper develops a game theoretic model in which three actors interact in a region of fixed assets, extractive infrastructure, and potential environmental externalities.  In the second paper, I conduct a comparative case study of Zambia, DRC and Mozambique to understand how the mechanisms in the model lead to variation in local distributive outcomes.  Finally, I test the theory in a large-n GIS analysis of an original dataset of extractive regions in Africa.

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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.

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Keith Veal, American Politics

Dissertation Title:  The Gating of America:  The Political and Social Consequences of Gated Communities on the Body Politic.

Gated communities are quickly becoming the fastest type of housing development in the United States. While these gated housing developments are growing mostly unchecked and unchallenged, the social and political implications of gated developments on the broader community remain uncharted.  Using qualitative data with homeowners living in communities with high concentrations of gated developments and a sample of planning commissioners who serve in municipalities containing or proximate to gated developments, this dissertation explored the negative externalities of gated communities upon the broader community as perceived by individuals living outside the gate.  This dissertation finds gated communities reduce and narrow the participation of those living behind the gate; and reduce social interaction, foster feelings of resentment and exclusion, and division on those outside the gate.  An exploration of the decision making process reveal the private interests of those seeking to gate prevail systematically over the collective public good of the citizenry. 

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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.

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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.

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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