Objective Facts and Elite Cues: Partisan Responses to Covid-19, with James Bisbee (NYU) (2022) The Journal of Politics

American politics scholars disagree on the extent to which voters use policy information to evaluate politicians, versus relying on partisan cues to evaluate policies. We demonstrate the coexistence of both of these perspectives by studying the degree to which objective facts (measured with local Covid-19 cases) and partisan cues (measured with President Trump's tweets about the virus) influence differences in the social distancing behaviors in Democrat and Republican counties in 2020. We find that both factors play an important role in social distancing, but that the relative importance between cues and facts favors the latter. Furthermore, the importance of these signals declines over time, suggesting a crucial but under-appreciated dynamic of how partisan positions evolve in a Bayesian framework.

Measuring inequality at scale: the Use and Misuse of Ethnoracial Predictions, with Yamil Velez (Columbia) Under Review

Studies of race in political science have increasingly relied on methods that predict individual-level race and ethnicity using surnames and geographic information, a process called Bayesian improved surname geocoding (BISG). However, the use of these predictions can generate systematic measurement error when geographic variables are included as independent variables, resulting in bias and an increased risk of false positives. We propose an alternative approach that combines surname-based prediction methods with a novel image-based method using convolutional neural networks. By selecting high-performing features from surname and image-based methods, the proposed technique not only reduces bias in downstream analyses, but also improves predictive accuracy in a sample of over 16,000 local elected officials.

Rising Tides or Political Ripcurrents? Gentrification and Minority Representation in 166 American Cities, with Yamil Velez (Columbia)

A growing literature in political science and sociology has documented the corrosive effects of gentrification -- a process by which affluent residents change the nature of poor and working-class neighborhoods -- on minority political participation. However, less is known about distal outcomes such as descriptive representation. This paper examines how gentrification affects local minority representation in over 160 city councils. Using panel methods, we find that the political consequences of gentrification seem to depend heavily on which facet of the process is examined: While housing-related changes are associated with increases in minority representation, white population growth is associated with reductions in local political power. We probe these findings and highlight the possibility of different mechanisms linked to each facet of gentrification: a candidate supply mechanism in the case of "racial gentrification" and a credit-claiming mechanism in the case of "economic gentrification." Our results suggest that the demographic and economic consequences of gentrification complicate straightforward conclusions regarding its impact on local politics.

Ex Ante Immigration Policy: How Local Politics Anticipate Future Flows, with James Bisbee (NYU)

Existing work on the domestic politics of immigration in the United States has documented important relationships between political outcomes and the growth in foreign-born populations, focusing on an ex post response to changing local demographics. Less understood are the ways in which local governments anticipate future changes in immigrant population, strategically adjusting policies to constrain the movement of immigrants across jurisdictional borders before it can occur. This paper estimates these ex ante changes in local policies by predicting variation in the proposal of anti-immigrant legislation as a function of proximity to nearby immigrant populations. We find that a 10 percentage point increase in the share of foreign-born populations in a city's surrounding areas almost doubles the likelihood that a city considers a restrictive policy in our data, which we argue reflects an attempt to prevent the inflow of immigrants into its jurisdiction in the future. We test three competing theories for why cities pursue such policies, finding that our results are most consistent with a cultural threat hypothesis.

Kill(ed) Bills: How Agenda Control Affects Roll-Call Ideal Point Estimates, with Samuel Frederick (Columbia)

Existing work on the domestic politics of immigration in the United States has documented important relationships between political outcomes and the growth in foreign-born populations, focusing on an ex post response to changing local demographics. Less understood are the ways in which local governments anticipate future changes in immigrant population, strategically adjusting policies to constrain the movement of immigrants across jurisdictional borders before it can occur. This paper estimates these ex ante changes in local policies by predicting variation in the proposal of anti-immigrant legislation as a function of proximity to nearby immigrant populations. We find that a 10 percentage point increase in the share of foreign-born populations in a city's surrounding areas almost doubles the likelihood that a city considers a restrictive policy in our data, which we argue reflects an attempt to prevent the inflow of immigrants into its jurisdiction in the future. We test three competing theories for why cities pursue such policies, finding that our results are most consistent with a cultural threat hypothesis.

Electoral Incentives and Policy Outcomes in Sanctuary Jurisdictions

In the wake of President Trump's election, a growing number of local jurisdictions adopted a variety of reforms that attempt to protect the immigrant residents, labeled as sanctuary policies. However, the word "sanctuary" does not have a legal definition, and the policies that are declared as sanctuary take many different forms. Because the term has no legal meaning, the local government's decision on whether to self-identify as one is a political one. I hypothesize that a declaration of sanctuary jurisdiction is a political tactic exercised by local politicians who seek to secure greater electoral support or to meet the demands made by their majority constituents. I examine whether the sanctuary jurisdictions (irrespective of the specific policies they enact) actually reduce the number of detainees compared to non-sanctuary jurisdictions after the adoption of sanctuary status. The null result of this analyses would support the claim that the sanctuary jurisdiction declaration is likely to be a function of a political strategy rather than of a real intention towards protecting the immigrant residents that are at risk of deportation. I then examine the evidence of the political motivation by exploiting the timing of the declaration of sanctuary policies. Specifically, I test whether the announcement of sanctuary policies coincides with the timing of local elections, and if so, whether such declaration boosts the electoral support for those local officials involved in the policy decision.