Welcome to my website! In May 2013, I earned my Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (American Politics & Methodology). I joined the political science faculty at Colorado College as an assistant professor in the fall of 2014.
Broadly speaking, I am interested in macro behavior and longitudinal issues. More specifically, my research interests center on ideological identification, public opinion, policy mood, and political psychology.
My dissertation The Liberal Paradox confronts this question: How can liberal policy programs remain widely supported and liberal politicians continue to win elections when the liberal identity itself is out-favored by the conservative identity nearly two-to-one? I provide novel insight to explain this central paradox of American politics. I begin by building a theory of ideological identification formation at the micro level, drawing from recent findings in psychology, and also considering the powerful agency of the environment in which individuals form attachments. In the second empirical chapter, I return the 1960s, using content analysis to recount the most dramatic shift in ideological identification in history. This endeavor uncovers the birth of the core symbolic meaning of "liberal" that still lives on today, and highlights the central role of the media in shaping individuals' affects for liberals. Likewise, on the heels of these new connotations, liberal elites abandoned the label as a definition for themselves and their policies, despite clear ideological connections. Finally, in the third empirical chapter, I trace the media's presentation of "liberal" to the mass public as a function of moral symbols and rhetoric. My findings suggest that the liberal label, once vacant of meaning, gained substantial substance in the 1960s, and that bundle of images, groups, and characteristics have become evermore central to the label. Furthermore, I demonstrate that the moral language with which elites and the media color the liberal identity has been typically less appealing to self-identified liberals and those predisposed to identify as liberals. These findings offer new insight for understanding the persistence of the unpopularity of liberal in name, yet broad acceptance in substance.