I am currently the Manager of Programs and Training at the Coro Center for Civic Leadership, Pittsburgh.
My PhD (Yale University, 2014) is in Political Science, with a focus on American Politics and a particular emphasis on public opinion and the media. I use survey experiments, along with media content, focus groups, and political theory, to illuminate how people make sense of the everyday messages they receive about government and politics. I was previously an assistant professor at Loyola University Maryland, where I taught a variety of courses including Public Opinion and American Democracy, Media and Politics, and Environmental Politics.
I am working on a book manuscript, Madison’s ABCs: Why the Public Still Values Accomplishment, Bipartisanship, and Civility in Congress, which explores whether Madisonian ideals for deliberative and collaborative political decision-making have lost their appeal. We have a Congress that appears to be little more than an arena for partisan combat, where relentless opposition, political point-scoring, obstruction, and expressions of outrage are the norm. Similar trends can be seem among citizens: Americans express strong, negative feelings towards the opposite party, and uncivil outbursts by elected officials yield an outpouring of donations from their supporters. Yet in this book, I argue that the desire for a more Madisonian approach to politics remains alive and well in the American public, contrary to common portrayals of citizens as hopelessly polarized. I draw on survey data, original survey experiments, and a series of focus groups to shed light on when and why the public is willing to reward legislative accomplishment, bipartisan behavior, and civil debate in Congress. I show that citizens do value what I call “Madison’s ABCs” (accomplishment, bipartisanship, and civility), although often not for the reasons that we might assume, and I use my results to shed light on what it will take to improve the public's confidence in Congress and depolarize political trust.
My broader research agenda focuses on how people make sense of the everyday messages they receive about government and elections. Through my work, I clarify how the public reacts to a variety of complex political stimuli, including news reports about debates in Congress, candidate messaging about qualifications for office, loaded political categories like “welfare” and “assistance to the poor,” and even fictional portrayals of unjust totalitarian governments. I have published articles in Public Opinion Quarterly, The Journal of Politics, and Public Opinion Quarterly, and I have several working papers available as well. (Please see Research for further information.)