Current work in progress

The Hidden Face of Power: Local Appointed Boards in the United States

This book project examines the power and purpose of local appointed boards and commissions in the United States. In the manuscript, I argue that these boards provide a veneer of democracy by allowing cities to placate residents via powerless volunteerism and to transfer controversial decisions to boards without electoral accountability. In the project, I combine information on the membership and powers of boards and commissions in large US cities with interviews, text analysis, participant observation, and survey data.

Guns in the Statehouse

The United States faces gun violence levels far beyond any other industrialized country. The debate over gun control often focuses on national policy and treats gun control and rights as two sides of the same policy arena. In this project, we combine sophisticated GIS data analysis with data from federal, state, and private sources to ask: who engages in gun policymaking in US states? Are gun control and gun rights the same policy arena? Are state efforts to regulate guns (or stop the regulation of guns) successful?

With Geoff Dancy, Andres, Sandoval, and Kayden McKenzie

Location of pistol licenses in Manhattan

Pink-collar representation

Women and individuals from the working class are underrepresented in political office, despite having unique life experiences and policy needs that demand representation. And yet, our understanding of the politics of the working class and blue collar representation have largely been defined through men's experiences. In this series of projects, Tiffany Barnes & I (along with Gregory Saxton & Victoria Beall) focus attention on the experiences, needs, and consequences of pink-collar workers through evaluations of U.S. State legislatures and comparisons across Latin American countries.

Children's Political Socialization

Working with Celeste Lay, Angie Bos, Zoe Oxley, and Jill Greenlee, we ask: How do young children (grades 1-6) understand politics? At what age do gender differences in political interest, engagement, and enthusiasm start? What do children think about political leaders? Using interviews and surveys of 1500+ children and innovative methods (including the Draw A Political Leader activity), we provide the first comprehensive update to the literature on children's political attitudes in the United States since the 1960s.