I am an assistant professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis and a research fellow at the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy. I previously held a faculty position at Boston University and have held research fellowships at the Hoover Institution at Stanford and at the Center for the Study of American Politics within the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University.
My substantive interests focuses on the interchange between institutions and behavior. Specifically, I study electoral accountability of presidents and members of Congress. For what do voters hold politicians accountable? How does this accountability structure how presidents and legislators pursue policy? In a number of contexts, I find that voters hold elected officials (and especially presidents) accountable for local political phenomena including natural disasters, federal spending, gas prices, rates of unemployment, and home foreclosure. In other work, I consider how this voter accountability creates the incentives for politicians to pursue specific types of public policy.
My work has appeared in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, and the Journal of Politics, among other outlets. I received my Ph.D. in 2008 from the Department of Government at Harvard where I was an associate of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science.
My book, The Particularistic President: Executive Branch Politics and Political Inequality with Douglas Kriner (Cambridge University Press), examines how local accountability combined with the institutions of presidential elections, causes presidents to disproportionately reward important constituencies with federal dollars. As the holders of the only office elected by the entire nation, presidents have long claimed to be sole stewards of the interests of all Americans. Scholars have largely agreed, positing the president as an important counterbalance to the parochial impulses of members of Congress. This supposed fact is often invoked in arguments for concentrating greater power in the executive branch. We challenge this notion and, through an examination of a diverse range of policies from disaster declarations, to base closings, to the allocation of federal spending, show that presidents, like members of Congress, are particularistic. Presidents routinely pursue policies that allocate federal resources in a way that disproportionately benefits their more narrow partisan and electoral constituencies. Though presidents publicly don the mantle of a national representative, in reality they are particularistic politicians who prioritize the needs of certain constituents over others. [Amazon | CUP]