Kyle Endres. American / Methods. Thesis: Issue Cross-Pressures and Campaign Effects (Shaw, Albertson, Jessee, Leal, Luskin). My dissertation examines campaign persuasion efforts and their consequences for political participation and evaluations of government. The centerpiece is a statistical analysis of voter persuadability in 2012, relying on pre- and post-election survey data augmented with the Republican National Committee’s voter files. This merger provides a unique opportunity to compare how the campaign viewed individual voters (based on their micro-targeting estimates of persuadability) with how political science views these same voters. The first component of my dissertation looks at vote change and partisan defection during the 2012 campaign. I begin by presenting a new measure of persuadable voters based on issue cross-pressures combined with theories of campaign effects. I find that the campaigns’ decision to limit their outreach to a small set of issues effectively creates two sets of cross-pressured voters. The first group disagrees with their party on one of the major campaign issues and is relatively more likely to both change their vote between the two waves of the survey and defect to either the opposition party or a third party candidate. The second group of cross-pressured voters disagrees with their party on an issue that is not central to either presidential campaign and is relatively less likely to change their vote. In addition, I use the campaign’s official records of campaign contact to test the effectiveness of their persuasion efforts by comparing individuals in each category that were contacted during the final weeks of the campaign with those individuals that were not. The second part of my dissertation examines the demographic characteristics, political engagement, political participation, and political sophistication of persuadable voters compared to the rest of the electorate. I test whether the findings from the sociological model of voting that cross-pressured voters are “worse” than the rest of the population on each of these dimensions is true for both sets of cross-pressured voters. The voter files allow me to go beyond the more commonly tested attributes of cross-pressured by examining individual’s entire voting history, including participation in primaries and state/local elections. The third section focuses on persuadable voters across time and how the classification of individual voters as persuadable (or not) varies from election to election based on the candidates’ issue agenda. This allows me to demonstrate which major party presidential candidates is advantaged based on the percentage of each party’s supporters that are receptive to persuasion attempts from the opposition party based on the relevant policy issues during a given election. Education: PhD (expected summer 2015); MA, University of Texas; BA University of Texas. Publications: Co-authored book chapter in "African-American Political Psychology: Identity, Opinion, and Action in the Post-Civil Rights Era, ed. Tasha S. Philpot and Ismail K. White, New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Courses Taught: Government Research Methods. Teaching Interests: Campaigns & Elections, Voting Behavior, Public Opinion, Political Participation, Race & Ethnicity in Politics, and Research Methods. Email: email@example.com.
Jennifer E. Lamm. American / Public Law. Thesis: Jus Meritum: Alien Soldiers and Civic Obligation in the United States (Leal, Albertson, Levinson, Sparrow, Tulis). My dissertation explores the principle of “citizenship for service” over the course of U.S. history. It uses alien soldiers, veterans, and their families as a case study to explore the broad themes of citizenship, civic obligation, and the boundaries of political incorporation. I examine the relationship between military service and political inclusion, the implications of alien enlistment, and the practical and theoretical challenges the practice of alien military service raises for republican and democratic theories of government. I was introduced to this topic as a Naval Officer stationed at San Diego, California from 2003-2005. Since completing my MA degree, I have worked as a Research Fellow at the Army Research Institute at Ft. Hood, Texas from 2011-2012, and at the Irma Rangel Public Policy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, where I was named Graduate Research Assistant of the Year for 2012-2013. Status: Ph.D. expected August 2014. Courses Taught: Intro to American Government. Teaching Interests: Intro to American Government; Intro to Public Law; American Political Thought; Intro to Constitutional Law (U.S.); Constitutionalism (Comparative); Theories of Citizenship; Military and Society; Civil-Military Relations (U.S. and Comparative). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Web profile: http://links.utexas.edu/aruwuj.
Eric Svensen. American / Methods. Thesis: Reconceptualizing Divided Government (Jeff Tulis, Daron Shaw, Sean Theriault, Brue Buchanan, Frances Lee (U. of Maryland)). In this dissertation, I explain why scholars are unable to conclusively find evidence that divided government is the main determinant of legislative gridlock. I argue this unsettled debate is largely attributable to an imprecise conceptual view of inter-branch tensions, and that these conceptual limitations are exacerbated by unrefined measurement practices. Specifically, most studies of inter-branch politics connect the cause of gridlock to the dichotomous distinction between unified and divided government: the latter causing and the former immune to gridlock. This oversimplification, however, not only assumes legislative outcomes between the two governing regimes do not vary, but that also the character of partisanship does not change with the passage of history. I argue that refined measures such as party polarization and gridlock intervals, for example, better explain partisan variability than divided government. Using a number of unique datasets that comprise domestic legislation, sincere and strategic voting in foreign policy, and appropriation-specific voting preferences, findings show that when compared to more refined measures split-party government is not the sole nor even the most important source of partisan conflict. In addition, when the distinction between single and split-party government is muted, indicators such as party polarization matter less. In light of recent political discussions on legislative gridlock and a renewed interest in divided government, this project is important to the larger debate on inter-branch politics since it highlights how conceptual and measurement limitations can lead to incorrect substantive conclusions about American politics. Status: Ph.D expected spring 2014. Publications: "Consensus or Conflict: Unified Government, Divided Government, and Distributive Spending" (under review). Causes Taught: Intro to American Government. Teaching Interests: Introductory American politics courses, Congress, the presidency, political parties, American political development, public policy, politics and economics. Email: email@example.com, Web profile: http://links.utexas.edu/fnyomo, Website: http://ericsvensen.info/