"Against and Alongside the Bully Pulpit: How Members of Congress Publicly Respond to Presidential Appeals."
Abstract: The bulk of public appeals literature focuses on the dyadic interaction between political elites—most commonly a president—and their constituents. Meanwhile, the exchange of messages between political elites—say, presidents and legislators—receive considerably less attention. This paper investigates how members of Congress intermittently buoy and block presidential efforts to rally public support for policy initiatives. Drawing upon a rich collection of legislators' press releases, this paper evaluates how partisan, ideological, and electoral considerations figure into each legislator’s propensity to offer support, opposition, or say nothing at all in the aftermath of a presidential appeal. Analyses of all press releases from the 111th and 115th sessions of Congress suggest that moderates and those who are cross-pressured by parties and constituents are notably less likely to respond to presidential speeches; and when they do respond, they tend to remain neutral. Ideologically extreme legislators, by contrast, respond with greater frequency and deliver statements of clear support or opposition. Additional analyses of members’ responses to presidential State of the Union Addresses reveal a marked increase in opposition by the minority party. Republican opposition to Barack Obama, a variety of structural topic models reveal, pales in comparison to Democratic opposition toward Trump. Collectively, these findings have important implications for our understanding of public debates about the president’s policy agenda and party polarization within Congress.
"The Behavioral Consequences of Public Appeals: Evidence on Campaign Fundraising from the 2018 Congressional Elections,"
with William Howell.
Abstract: Whereas the vast preponderance of studies on public appeals evaluates their impacts on mass public opinion, we investigate behavioral responses—that is, the willingness of donors to contribute to candidates for public office. As appeals, we identify and code the online messages from all 2018 candidates for Congress, winners and losers alike, about both Trump himself and his signature policy initiative, immigration reform; and as behavioral responses, we track candidates’ daily fundraising totals. What Republican candidates for Congress say about Trump, we find, bears significantly on their ability to raise money. In the immediate aftermath of complimenting the president, Republicans secured a modest increase in fundraising; when they criticized him, however, they promptly suffered a substantial decline. We do not observe any comparable evidence for Democratic candidates. Our findings are robust to a wide variety of measurement and modeling strategies, and expand our understanding of the political stakes of public appeals.
"Extreme Tweets: How Congress Members Signal Their Ideology With Twitter," 2020, with Eric Oliver.
"Policy without Partisanship: The Direct Appeals of First Ladies," 2019 (under review), with Meg Savel.
"Presidential Partisan Particularism: A Reconsideration," 2018.
"Effects of Elite Cues on American Foreign Policy Attitudes toward China," 2016.
"Impacts of Imperial College Student Opinion on Foreign Policy Making in the Song Dynasty (宋代太学生舆论对国家战和决策的相关性分析)," 2015, with Chuanjie Zhang.