Interdisciplinary Workshops on Politics and Policy

About the Workshops

Interdisciplinary Workshops on Politics and Policy are weekly seminars hosted by the Center for Political Studies. Speakers present current research on a wide range of topics. Archives of past workshops are available in the menu to the right.​

Workshops typically take place on Wednesdays at noon, in room 6080; alternative rooms are starred below.

Winter 2022 events

Presenting Jordan: Geographies of Power and Dissent

Sept. 21, 2022 | Noon to 1 PM EDT
Jillian Schwedler (Hunter College)


Protest has been a key method of political claim-making in Jordan from the late Ottoman period to the present day. More than moments of rupture within normal-time politics, protests have been central to challenging state power, as well as reproducing it—and the spatial dynamics of protests play a central role in the construction of both state and society. In this talk based on her new book, Protesting Jordan: Geographies of Power and Dissent (Stanford University Press, 2022), Jillian Schwedler considers how space and geography influence protests and repression, and, in challenging conventional narratives of Hashemite state-making, offers the first in-depth study of rebellion in Jordan.

Based on twenty-five years of field research, Protesting Jordan examines protests as they are situated in the built environment, bringing together considerations of networks, spatial imaginaries, space and place-making, and political geographies at local, national, regional, and global scales. Schwedler considers the impact of time and temporality in the lifecycles of individual movements. Through a mixed interpretive methodology, this book illuminates the geographies of power and dissent and the spatial practices of protest and repression, highlighting the political stakes of competing narratives about Jordan’s past, present, and future.

The Motivations behind Congressional Endorsements in Presidential Primaries

Sept. 28, 2022 | Noon to 1 PM EDT
Jade Burt (University of Michigan)


While the impact of presidential primary endorsements on recipients has been explored, the reasons underlying them remain poorly understood. This paper considers three motivations that capture the motivations of most congressional endorsers: aiding their own reelection, advancing their career, and influencing who wins the nomination. In describing these motivations, I derive testable claims from competing candidate-centric and activist centric theories of party behavior and show that each theory explains endorsement behavior at different points in the primary process and among different groups of endorsers. 

In keeping with activist-centric behavioral theories, the earliest endorsements are targeted at intense policy demanders and favor ideologically proximate candidates. However, as the primary progresses, endorsements become less ideological and more geared towards helping the endorser win reelection, in keeping with candidate-centric theories. Progressive career ambition increases the likelihood of some home state endorsements. However, its absence among those whose career ambition has been realized makes them less likely to endorse. 

Party Polarization and its Impact on Public Health Preparedness and Responsiveness to Disease Outbreaks

October 5, 2022 | Noon to 1:00 PM EDT
Michael Minta (University of Minnesota)


In 2020, the slow and uneven federal response to the coronavirus surprised many  observers because multiple sources, including the Global Health Security Index, ranked the  United States as the most prepared nation in the world to deal with public health emergencies.  Congressional Democrats blamed the Trump administration for not properly preparing and  responding to COVID-19 while the Trump administration and congressional Republicans blamed  Democrats and the previous Obama administration for not adequately preparing the US for a  public health crisis. Would the partisan disagreement affect the ability of the federal government  to properly respond to major disease outbreaks? The political science literature offers conflicting  expectations with some scholars arguing that party polarization limits the ability of government  to pass legislation while other scholars find that government’s ability to pass legislation does not  diminish because of party polarization. To resolve this dilemma in the literature, we examine to  what extent, if any, does polarization affect the likelihood of public health bills becoming law.  Using public health bills introduced from the 80th to 114th Congress, we find that polarization  hinders the ability of Congress to pass public health legislation. Even though the bill passage rate  for public health bills is not any different than it was when Congress was less polarized,  polarization impacts the ability of public health legislation to pass the House or the Senate, thus,  impacting the quality of legislation that is introduced. 

How to Build Bipartisan Trust in Fact-Checking Sites 

October 12, 2022 | Noon to 1:00 PM EDT
Hwayong Shin (University of Michigan)


Unlike conventional journalism that achieves objectivity by giving “equal weights” to both sides of the debate, fact-checking takes a more interpretive and “weights of evidence” approach. One challenge is that the way fact-checking pursues objectivity allows for asymmetric coverage that covers one political party more heavily than the other. These imbalances may reflect genuine asymmetries in the prevalence of misinformation, but can also undermine trust among partisans. Findings from a preregistered experiment indicate that, compared to symmetric coverage, uncongenial asymmetry (most articles challenge in-group) leads partisans to find a source less credible. Contrary to conventional belief, Democrats react more negatively to uncongenial asymmetry than Republicans. Congenial asymmetry (most articles challenge out-group) also causes partisans to perceive the source as less credible, especially when a portion of coverage challenges their own party on polarized topics. These findings suggest more symmetric coverage of political parties can foster more bipartisan trust in fact checking. 

Neighborhood Policing Presence: How 911-Call Locations Affect Officer-Initiated Surveillance and Enforcement Acts

Oct. 19, 2022 | Noon to 1:00 PM EDT
Marty Davidson (University of Michigan)


What effect does demand for policing presence, as proxied by 911 call locations, have on the location of officer initiated surveillance and enforcement strategies? Using publicly available data from Durham, North Carolina between 2006 and 2020, I investigate how two neighborhood centric emergency crisis – suspicious complaints (citizenry deterrence) and weapon-related calls (citizenry cooperation) – change the intensity of directed patrols across the city, which I use as a proxy for police surveillance. First, I propose a coproduction model of policing where responding officers learn from 911 calls and inform other patrol officers on where to conduct directed patrols. I compare this novel model to two existing frameworks of policing: reactive model of policing and proactive model of policing. Second, I introduce an inverse probability of treatment weighting (IPTW) approach that can estimate the effects of these neighborhood centric calls on directed patrols using their longitude(X)/latitude(Y) coordinates. With this setup, I find that suspicious complaints are responsible for 10.7 percent of directed patrols across the city while weapon- related calls are responsible for 12.2 percent. This proportion is greater in majority-minority communities, however, who tend to be clustered in and around Durham’s gentrifying downtown neighborhoods. In addition, in these downtown neighborhoods, suspicious complaints explain a greater share of directed patrols than do weapon-related calls. This police responsiveness illustrates how 911 callers can indirectly affect levels of police surveillance when engaging in citizenry deterrence, such as suspicious complaints. Residents can have a bottom-up influence on officer-initiated policing strategies. 

Title TBD

Oct. 26, 2022 | Noon to 1:00 PM EDT
Erin Cikanek (University of Michigan)

Developing the Pipeline: How Women’s Organizations Support Women Candidates

Nov. 2, 2022 | Noon to 1:00 PM EDT
Sara Morell (University of Michigan)

Why is there considerable state-level variation in where women run and win? In this article, I argue that the success of candidate recruitment is conditional on whether people perceive an ask to run for political office as both credible and substantive. Specifically, I demonstrate that women’s candidate training organizations (WCTOs) increase women’s political ambition because of their ability to provide credible and substantive recruitment. Using interviews with 57 organizations that train candidates to run for political office, I provide evidence that WCTOs are more likely to engage in active recruitment and mobilization, more likely to put substantial resources behind their candidates and more likely to address specific gender barriers to running, than non-gender candidate training organizations (NGCTOs). However, I also find that women’s organizations are less likely to talk about barriers faced by non-white and non-straight candidates, influencing who benefits from their support. Then, using an original online survey experiment, with 1,200 white, Black and Latina women, I demonstrate that the strategies used by women’s organizations to recruit and train candidates increase women’s ambition. Specifically, when women are mobilized to think about changes that can benefit their local community and when they learn about support they can receive from women-specific organizations, they are more likely to want to run for political office. Overall, my work highlights the transformative and growing role of WCTOs on decreasing the gender gap in women’s political representation, by showing that candidate recruitment is highly conditional on the nature of the recruitment itself.

Title TBD

Nov. 16, 2022 | Noon to 1:00 PM EDT
John Wilkerson (University of Washington, Seattle)

Ideology and Performance in Public Organizations

Dec. 7, 2022 | Noon to 1:00 PM EDT
Jörg Spenkuch (Northwestern University)

We combine personnel records of the United States federal bureaucracy from 1997-2019 with administrative voter registration data to study how ideological alignment between politicians and bureaucrats affects turnover and performance. We document significant partisan cycles and turnover among political appointees. By contrast, we find no political cycles in the civil service. At any point in time a sizable share of bureaucrats is ideologically misaligned with their political leaders. We study the performance implications of this misalignment for the case of procurement officers. Exploiting presidential transitions as a source of within-bureaucrat variation in political alignment, we find that procurement contracts overseen by misaligned officers exhibit greater cost overruns and delays. We provide evidence consistent with a general morale effect, whereby misaligned bureaucrats are less motivated to pursue the organizational mission. Our results thus help to shed some of the first light on the costs of ideological misalignment within public organizations.

Missing, presumed different: Quantifying the risk of attrition bias in education evaluations

Jan. 11, 2023 | Noon to 1:00 PM EDT
Luke Miratrix (Harvard University)