Currently Funded Projects

Telling Half the Story?: Using Roll Call Votes to Understand Legislative Behavior

With Matt Gabel and Cliff Carrubba (Emory), we are examining the sample properties of roll call votes. We know very little about the institution of roll call votes: we know little about the conditions under which votes are roll called, who is responsible for deciding whether a vote is roll called, and what reasons they have for requesting a roll call. In a broad range of systems roll call votes are only a subset of all legislative votes cast.  The sample properties of roll-call votes are critical to determining the quality of the inferences voters (and academics) can draw from observed legislative behavior.  We are collecting relevant data from “congressional records” of countries around the world.
This project is being funded by the National Science Foundation (Grant # SES-1066340)

Institutional Interactions: Bicameralism in Presidential Systems

With John Patty and Maggie Penn, University of Chicago, and Connie Schibber, WUSTL,  I am working on a project to study bicameralism in presidential systems. Endowed with sufficient powers and made up of members with unique preferences, second chambers play an integral role in the workings of the policymaking process. Nonetheless, much of our theorizing and much of our empirical work are content to focus on lower chambers. Ignoring the existence of a second chamber can lead to misguided theorizing, erroneous hypotheses, and misleading interpretations of findings. Literatures on agenda control, coalition building, policy stability, and intercameral reconciliation procedures point to the need to systematically consider the role of a second chamber. We hope to advance the theory on how bicameralism works as a system, rather than as two independent chambers and  to collect cameral procedures, transcripts of floor minutes, and roll call vote results in the nine upper chambers of Latin America.
This project is being funded by the National Science Foundation (Grant # SES-1227186).


Electoral Systems and Representation: Interparty and Intraparty Politics

With Patrick Cunha Silva, Santiago Olivella, and Guillermo Rosas I am writing a book tentatively entitled Representation and Electoral Systems: Interparty and Intraparty Politics. We use six electoral rules that are part of all electoral systems to place those systems in a two-dimensional space based on the incentives they create for relations between parties (their number, size, and location in the ideological space) and within parties (constituency service, campaign content, party discipline, pork barrel v. programmatic policies, etc.). The book is aimed at an upper-division undergraduate audience and would also be ideal as a framework and initial weekly reading for a graduate seminar.

This project is being funded by the National Science Foundation (Grant # SES-2048540).

Grant Proposals & Projects in Their Early Stages

Institutionalizing Race and Representation in Communities and Schools:
The Evolution of Social Inequality in St. Louis

With Matt Gabel (WUSTL), Terry Jones (UMSL), and Jonathan Rodden (Stanford), I am working on a new project about the impact of electoral rules on race and representation in U.S. school boards and city councils. The use of multiple non-transferable vote (MNTV) systems to elect school boards has been blamed for the under-representation of blacks. Lawsuits brought by the ACLU and NAACP have advocated the use of single-member districts decided by plurality (SMDP) as a remedy for this supposed shortcoming. SMDP rules are used to elect U.S. city councils. In this project we will follow, in an extremely fine-grained manner, demographic shifts across communities in St. Louis county for a 50-year period to determine how the racial composition of electoral districts interacts with electoral rules to determine the racial composition of elected bodies. We have received internal seed money and have a proposal under consideration at multiple foundations.