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Doctoral StudentAmerican Politics
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My research looks at the intersection of elite strategy and voter behavior, examining both the effectiveness of elite campaign strategies in the electorate, and the ways in which elites change their strategies in response to the attitudes of the mass public. 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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Ann Arbor, MI