Advertising Ideology: Using Crowd-sourced Measurement to Understand Campaigns (coauthored with Andrew J. Clarke and Thomas Gray) is forthcoming in Journal of Political Marketing.
We develop a subjective measure of candidate ideology in political communication, based on human coders’ evaluations of ideological position-taking in campaign advertisements. Our dynamic measure allows researchers to track campaign strategies within an election cycle and across ideologically distinct groups of voters. As an application of our approach, we analyze candidates’ ideological brand building in U.S. House and Senate elections in 2010 and find evidence that structural features of U.S. elections constrain the ideological brands of congressional candidates. We show that Democratic Senate candidates represented themselves as ideologically liberal in areas that strongly supported President Obama in 2008, but moderated their ideological message in more competitive areas. By contrast, we find no evidence of strategic branding among Republicans. Our results reveal one way in which fine-grained observational measures of political communications illustrate strategic ideological posturing that existing measures based on campaign donations or roll call votes cannot identify.
Visualizing Inequality: How Graphical Frames Shape Public Opinion was published in Research and Politics. Replication materials are available here. The supplemental appendix is available here.
Graphical representations of political issues and economic trends are an increasingly popular means of conveying information to the public. However, graphs have the potential to shape public opinion by visually emphasizing or downplaying the information they convey. I randomly assign subjects to view graphs that represent the same underlying information but that differ in relative emphasis: one is consistent with a textual account of rising inequality, while the other de-emphasizes the same information by increasing the scale of the Y-axis. My results indicate the graphical frames provide powerful contextual cues: for Republicans and conservatives, exposure to the de-emphasizing graph results in a 40% decrease in expressed support for intervention against inequality relative to Republicans and conservatives in the control condition, despite the fact that both groups read the same textual information. My findings reveal how an increasingly important and unexamined form of political communication affects public opinion, also suggesting promising avenues for future research.
Socializer or Signal: How Agency Accreditation Affects Organizational Culture (coauthored with Manny Teodoro) was published in Public Administration Review.
Agency accreditation has grown steadily as a management strategy in recent decades. Accreditation is meant to help professionalize public administration work by requiring an agency to adopt policies and practices that are sanctioned by an external organization. Advocates claim that accreditation facilitates the diffusion of best practices and builds a culture of professionalism in an agency. Accreditation clearly leads agencies to adopt formal policies. This article identifies two ways in which accreditation might affect organizational culture: (1) by socializing employees, and (2) by signaling the agency’s priorities to employees. Analyzing attitudinal data from officers in six American police departments, this study finds no association between accreditation and officers’ own values, but finds that accreditation is strongly correlated with officers’ perceptions of their agencies’ priorities
Assessing Professionalism: Street-Level Attitudes and Agency Accreditation” (coauthored with Manny Teodoro) was published in State and Local Government Review. Replication materials are available here.
Professional organizations now accredit state and local agencies across several fields. This article investigates the attitudes of street-level bureaucrats toward their agencies and the tasks required of them in accredited and nonaccredited agencies. If accreditation changes bureaucratic attitudes in ways that build a sense of mission or shape functional preferences, it could lead to more effective public service delivery. The empirical subjects of this study are American municipal police departments and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). Analysis of quasi-experimental data from a survey of officers suggests that accreditation helps build a sense of mission at the street level but finds little evidence of an effect on functional preferences.