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Interdisciplinary Workshops on Politics and Policy Archive 2022-2023

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. Abstracts of past workshops are available in the menu to the right.

Past 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. 

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.

Plagiarism Detection as a Legislative Research Tool

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


Although legislation is predominantly text, quantitative legislative studies have traditionally used very little of this
information. I will present several examples of how text reuse methods are advancing legislative studies. I will also share
what we have learned in terms of how to use these methods effectively in the legislative domain. Finally, I hope that we
can brainstorm about additional legislative (or other) applications and potentially useful methodological advances.

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)


Joint work with Ben Weidmann: Attrition has been described as “the Achilles Heel of the randomized experiment” (Shadish et al., 1998). The main virtue of randomization is its ability to create groups whose only systematic difference is treatment status. Attrition looms as a threat because it can undermine group equivalence, eroding the methodological strength at the heart of a randomized evaluation, a cornerstone of education research. But how large are these biases in practice?  To investigate this question, we estimate the magnitude of attrition bias for 10 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in education. We make use of a unique feature of administrative school data in England that allows us to analyze post-test academic outcomes for nearly all students, including those who originally dropped out of the RCTs we analyze. We find that the typical magnitude of attrition bias is 0.015 effect size units (ES), with no estimate greater than 0.034 ES. This suggests that, in practice, the risk of attrition bias is limited. However, this risk should not be ignored as we find some evidence against the common ‘Missing At Random’ assumption. We recommend that researchers incorporate uncertainty due to attrition bias, as well as performing sensitivity analyses based on the types of attrition mechanisms that are observed in practice. We provide an approach for both of these things.

Effects of Political Attacks on Minority Political Attitudes and Behaviors

Jan. 25, 2023 | Noon to 1:00 PM EDT
Nazita Lajevardi (Michigan State University)


Explicit racism in political campaigns is on the rise. While some work has examined how minoritized groups mobilize into politics in the face of such political discrimination, little direct causal evidence exists on the effects of inflammatory campaign rhetoric on members of marginalized groups being directly attacked, and also on those who hold neighboring identities to the direct targets of political attacks. Identity and membership in social groups are powerful forces in politics, producing effects such as partisan bias, racial affinity and discrimination, welfare chauvinism, and many others. And, existing research suggests that while members of minoritized groups do punish candidate derogation aimed at other minoritized groups, responses to attacks on their own ingroup might be stronger. In the face of hostile political rhetoric targeting one outgroup, do individuals with neighboring identities also respond as strongly? We focus on how anti-immigrant attacks affect both immigrant and non immigrants in Canada and the United States. Using Latino-American and South-Asian Canadian samples, we conduct two experiments and randomize respondents into one of three fictional social-media style campaign videos on immigrants, a specific panethnic group (Latinos / South Asians) or a control condition. Results show strong treatment effects on both emotional responses and candidate evaluations. There is some evidence of a difference between targeted and neighboring identities, with immigrants reacting slightly stronger to the anti immigrant ad. However, the difference is quite small, and swamped by the much larger general treatment effects on all respondents. Together, these results point to the importance of neighboring identities, and how social and psychological connections can produce effects as large as actual membership.

Your past is my present: Does evoking historical parallels change public opinion regarding foreign policy?

Feb. 8, 2023 | Noon to 1:30 PM EDT
Pauline Jones (University of Michigan) and Anil Menon (Cornell University)


Seeking international support to counter Russia’s February 2022 invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has publicly addressed politicians from several democratic nations. Media coverage paid special attention to his explicit comparison of Ukraine’s current situation to salient historical events in the audience countries. Given that public opinion can influence foreign policy decisions in democracies, we investigate whether evoking the audience country’s past effectively increases popular support for Ukraine. We conducted preregistered survey experiments simultaneously in four countries where Zelensky delivered speeches rich in historical parallels – Germany, Israel, United Kingdom, and United States. Exposure to excerpts from his speeches triggered distinctive emotional reactions in all countries, reactions consistent with the substantive content tailored for each country. Only in Israel, however, did this rhetoric increase public support for measures intended to bolster Ukraine’s war efforts. Thus, while rhetoric emphasizing past-present commonalities might pull at the heart strings, its persuasive potential appears limited.

Extraversion, Gender, and the Perceived Pleasantness of Politics

Feb. 1, 2023 | Noon to 1:00 PM EDT
Amanda Friesen (Western University)


Politics is a social enterprise, with most of its activities taking place in public, sometimes in open confrontation with others. As such, personality traits that define sociability govern levels of political involvement that involve social aspects – e.g., attending a rally and canvassing. We add to this literature in two ways. First, we show that extraversion benefits men’s political activities more than women’s using panel data gathered around the 2016 and 2020 U.S. elections and a module of the American National Election Study. That is, the gender gap opens among extraverts. Second, we argue that this is due to the perceived pleasantness of political activities, a mechanism which has been overlooked by previous work studying the link between personality and political participation. Extraverts are only more likely to participate in certain actions if activities are perceived as pleasant. With pre-registered hypotheses, we directly test the connection between gender, extraversion, and pleasantness of political activities in our 2020 data. Our findings suggest women are less likely to experience political activities as pleasant, which serves to curb the positive effect of extraversion. Finally, I will detail a current study in the field, using round-robin, dyadic, in-person conversations to uncover how gender and extraversion shape political and nonpolitical discussions and perceptions of conversation quality.

“When are Two Observations Sufficient?: Revisiting the Method of Difference for Individual Treatment Effects”

March 8, 2023 | Noon to 1:00 PM EDT
Adam Glynn (Emory University)

We derive novel sufficient conditions for making causal inferences from the comparison of binary outcomes on two units (N=2, T=1) or on a single unit before and after treatment (N=1, T=2). We show that the false positive rate (FPR) for the method of difference can be bounded above when there is a monotonic effect for the treated unit and the prognostic score for the control unit at least as large as for the treated unit. The FPR bound can be lowered with the inclusion of post-treatment and other auxiliary information. These FPRs may reach levels similar to FPRs from large-sample studies in realistic scenarios. Moreover, synthetic controls can be constructed to satisfy the sufficient conditions and the FPR bounds are robust to some forms of interference. We use this methodology to re-evaluate a contested claim that Sekou Touré’s public opposition to the proposed French constitution was likely essential for Guinean independence from France in 1958.

Kiss, Marry, Kill: Appearance-Based Discrimination in Politics

April 19, 2023 | Noon to 1:00 PM EDT
Rachel Bernhard (Oxford University)

We derive novel sufficient conditions for making causal inferences from the comparison of binary outcomes on two units (N=2, T=1) or on a single unit before and after treatment (N=1, T=2). We show that the false positive rate (FPR) for the method of difference can be bounded above when there is a monotonic effect for the treated unit and the prognostic score for the control unit at least as large as for the treated unit. The FPR bound can be lowered with the inclusion of post-treatment and other auxiliary information. These FPRs may reach levels similar to FPRs from large-sample studies in realistic scenarios. Moreover, synthetic controls can be constructed to satisfy the sufficient conditions and the FPR bounds are robust to some forms of interference. We use this methodology to re-evaluate a contested claim that Sekou Touré’s public opposition to the proposed French constitution was likely essential for Guinean independence from France in 1958.

Conditional Hospitality: How Foreign Aid Shapes Local Attitudes Towards Refugees

April 26, 2023 | Noon to 1:00 PM EDT
Melani Cammett (Harvard University)


A key challenge for countries with large refugee populations is to establish policies that help refugees while ensuring that host country nationals do not develop negative attitudes towards them. In principle, international aid programs can help to address this dilemma by generating additional resource flows into the country. Can international aid induce more altruistic attitudes and behaviors towards refugees in the local population and, if so, which types of aid programs are more or less likely to do so? Based on a two-month randomized control trial in Turkey with multiple survey waves conducted using an online platform, we explore whether distinct types of aid, notably cash transfers, vocational training, and social cohesion programs, have different effects on local population attitudes and altruistic behavior vis-a-vis refugees, our main outcomes of interest. We further assess whether these effects vary depending on whether the funder is the host government or international donor and if international aid is framed in terms of helping the local economy versus the refugee population. Understanding the conditions under which international aid policies successfully integrate refugees in host countries may improve the effectiveness of programs aimed at supporting refugees and nationals in receiving countries alike.

Explaining Variation of Colonial Narratives in Postcolonial States: Denunciation and Valorization in Southeast Asia

May 17, 2023 | Noon to 1:00 PM EDT
Dean Dulay (SMU Singapore Management University)
Co-sponsored by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS)


Research on the negative impacts of colonialism is well-established across the social sciences. In spite of this, considerable variation exists in how postcolonial states situate their colonial histories within national narratives. Some states frame their colonial experience negatively, denouncing their former colonizers and highlighting anticolonialism as inherent to nationalism. Yet other states highlight the positive elements of colonial rule, valorizing imperial institutions and situating their national identity in continuity with the colonial past. We argue that the way independence was achieved explains this variation: Countries that achieved independence through conflict developed negative frames denouncing their colonial past, while countries that achieved independence through peaceful transition developed positive frames valorizing their former colonizers. Qualitative evidence from three Southeast Asian countries and quantitative analysis on a global dataset of postcolonial states corroborates the theory.