Research

Peer reviewed publications

2019. Measuring Knowledge of Parties’ Legislative Seat Shares. Political Science Research and Methods, 7 (1) (with Seonghui Lee and Randy Stevenson). Replication materials

Working Papers

“The importance of parties as a social identity in Latin America: evidence from conjoint experiments”

A large literature on political behavior considers party identification as a social identity capable of affecting political attitudes, issue positions, and vote choice. However, research has not identified a strong role for partisan identity outside of Western democracies. Why does partisanship seem to be less of a social identity for citizens outside of Western democracies, particularly in Latin America? In this study I argue that it is not so much that partisanship is less of a social identity in this region, but rather that one type of partisanship—positive partisanship—is weaker. Specifically, I use social identity theory to contend that voters can have a psychological affinity towards members of a perceived in-group, which they fit into or they think they most resemble (i.e., positive partisanship). They also can develop a negative affective orientation towards a group that allows the individual to use it as a reference for what they do not want to be identified with (i.e., negative partisanship). I analyze voters’ partisanship empirically with a conjoint experiment embedded in online surveys conducted in Argentina and Mexico. Specifically, the experiment asked respondents to evaluate two hypothetical fellow citizens and choose which one of them they thought was “more like them.” The findings from the conjoint provide evidence in favor of the importance of parties as a positive and a negative identity in both Argentina and Mexico. More importantly, the results coming out of the experiments suggest that voters can establish strong identities towards parties in Latin America, even if they are not always positive.

“Hearts and Guts: negative partisanship in Latin America” (with Francisco Cantú)

This paper revisits the standard conceptualization of party identification by including the negative dimension of feelings and attitudes towards political parties. We illustrate the importance of this dimension in Latin American countries, where over 40% of respondents do not feel positively identified with any political party. We argue that voters in this region can establish stable identities towards parties, even if these are not positive. Building on our definition of negative identification we expect it to be more widespread in contexts where parties have clear and distinct policy platforms, among politically interested and knowledgeable individuals, and to be independent of positive partisanship within any given voter. To test these expectations, we use data obtained from the World Values Survey, the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems, and the Two-City Brazilian Panel Study. Our preliminary results suggest the independence of negative partisanship from its positive counterpart, and its prevalence among politically sophisticated voters and in contexts where party platforms are distinguishable from one another.

“Cabinet composition and electoral accountability in presidential democracies” (with Thiago Silva and Thiago Moreira)

An extensive literature on accountability in parliamentary systems has focused on the effect that cabinet type (i.e., single-party vs coalition) has on the electoral fate of governments for their economic performance. In presidential systems, studies on government accountability have focused on the impact of having unified or divided government on the electoral success of the president’s party. Neither of these literatures has examined how variations in cabinet composition can affect governments’ accountability. In this paper, we seek to fill this important gap in the literature by examining how cabinet composition can affect accountability for economic outcomes, focusing our analysis on Latin American democracies. Building on the theory of clarity of responsibility, we argue that when presidents appoint ministers who are aligned with their preferences, the ideological dispersion of the government cabinet will be minimal, and voters will be more likely to punish the president for bad economic outcomes, as this corresponds to a high clarity of responsibility situation. In turn, when the president is unable to appoint ministers completely aligned with her preferences, the ideological dispersion of the coalition will be larger and voters will be less likely to punish the president’s party for bad economic outcomes. To test these hypotheses, we combine aggregate-level data on cabinet composition and on the level of discretion that the president has to form her preferred cabinet, and survey data from 12 Latin American countries. Our preliminary results provide evidence in favor of our main argument.

“Candidate experience and electoral success” (with Agustín Vallejo and Leslie Schwindt-Bayer)

Studies in the American and comparative context that examine the individual-level determinants of a candidate’s electoral success have generally focused on a few variables, such as previous experience in elective and non-elective office. As a result, studies have overlooked the experience that candidates get from running campaigns even if they lose. In this paper, we argue that experience running for office, whether successfully or unsuccessfully, gives candidates three types of benefits: knowledge and expertise in running strong campaigns, a network of connections that is helpful in funding campaigns, and visibility among the electorate. As a result, candidate experience should have a positive impact on electoral success. We test our main expectation in Brazil using a database of candidates for seven different types of elected offices from 1998 to 2018 We show that candidates who ran for elected offices where they receive high visibility, can develop strong networks, and gain campaign experience are more likely to win when they run for election. Our results support our three main expectations and suggest the importance of not just officeholding experience but candidate experience for electoral success.