Temporal Selective Exposure: How Partisans Choose When to Follow Politics” with Jin Woo Kim (Under Review)

Despite widespread conjecture that partisan selective exposure drives mass polarization, there is little evidence that most Americans have skewed media consumption patterns. We suggest an alternative conceptualization of selective exposure: partisans select when to pay attention to politics, instead of which ideological sources to follow, such that they modify their political attentiveness in response to whether the flow of information is congenial to their party.  We employ two empirical strategies to test our hypothesis. First, we compare the in- and out- partisans’ differential levels of political engagement over the last six decades. Second, we use a natural experiment leveraging a dramatic change in information environment during the 2008 financial crisis. Both approaches show that, over time, partisan groups’ changes in political attentiveness are affected by the performance of the incumbent government, suggesting that partisans’ information diets may be imbalanced even if their media diets are well-balanced.
— Presented at APSA 2017, ICA 2018
— Top Paper Award from International Communication Association's Political Communication Division

Identifying the Downstream Effect of First Time Presidential Voting on Trust in Government” with Jin Woo Kim 

What do first-time voters learn after participating in a presidential election? Democratic theorists relish political participation for its benefits in promoting a sense of political legitimacy. Yet these benefits are theorized in a small-scale self-government setting, and it is unclear whether similar effects can be found in a representative democracy, where many citizens participate only through voting. We argue that presidential voting typically results in eventual disappointment—either because preferred candidate loses or because the elected president’s big promises are under-delivered—, which may have long-term consequences on political trust. Applying a regression discontinuity design to the ANES time-series data (1974 to 2008), we find that being just eligible to vote in a presidential election undercuts political trust 2 or 4 years down the road by several percentage points—a tendency that is more pronounced under a failing economy. We discuss the implications of our findings for political socialization. 
— Presented at PolMeth 2017 (poster), AAPOR 2017, MPSA 2017.  
— Top Student Paper Award from the DC-Chapter of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) 

Why Concerns About Economic Inequality Do Not Translate into Support for Redistributive Policies” with Rasmus T. Pedersen and Diana C. Mutz. 

Rising levels of economic inequality currently receive a great deal of attention from the mass public. However, the widespread concern has not increased support for policies aimed at lessening inequality. Using data from multiple surveys and survey experiments, this study investigates potential reasons for this weak link between concern about inequality and support for redistributive policies. Results show that many Americans fundamentally misunderstand the concept of economic inequality. Further, Americans' perceptions and preferences regarding inequality and related policies are highly affected by motivated reasoning and, to a lesser degree, by antigovernment sentiment. Together, these factors help to explain the relatively weak link between concern about inequality and support for redistributive economic policies.
— Presented at MPSA 2016. 

The Implications of Partisan Media for Economic Perceptions” with Diana C. Mutz.

The rise of partisan media in the United States raises new questions about the extent to which retrospective national economic perceptions change based on the particular sources of news citizens use. To the extent that economic perceptions are mere extensions of partisan identity and partisan media consumption, this change in the media environment diminishes the potential for democratic accountability. We use a unique collection of six waves of panel data including repeated measures of both retrospective national economic perceptions and exposure to partisan and nonpartisan television programs to examine this question. We find that partisan media have the capacity to influence retrospective national economic perceptions over time, beyond the anticipated effects from partisan rationalization and real economic change. These effects are particularly strong for consumption of outparty media. As outparty television consumption increases, its viewers come to perceive the economy as moving in an increasingly negative direction.
— Presented at APSA 2016.  

The Racial Gap in Attitudes toward International Trade” with Diana C. Mutz and Edward Mansfield. 

In multiple representative national surveys of American attitudes toward trade, minorities have been found to hold more favorable attitudes toward international trade than whites. This finding is puzzling in part because minorities are more likely to experience unemployment than whites. Moreover, the position of minorities in the national income and education distribution makes them an unlikely source of support for trade. In this study, we document the racial gap in trade opinions, drawing on multiple data sets spanning over a decade. Using decomposition analysis, we examine why minorities are more supportive of trade than whites. In addition to economic theories, we draw on psychological explanations for trade support to solve this puzzle. Finally, using an extremely large national survey, we begin to disentangle which minority groups appear most likely to drive this effect.
— Presented at APSA 2017
— Featured in Chicago Council on Global Affairs