I am an assistant professor of Political Science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Prior to joining UNLV, I received my Ph.D. from the University of Iowa (2017) and B.A. from Grinnell College (2011). My teaching and research interests include American politics, public policy, and racial and ethnic politics. My research focuses on how criminal justice policy and immigration policy shape the attitudes and participation of various racial and ethnic groups. My work on criminal justice policy and public opinion received the 2016 Blacks and Politics paper award from the Western Political Science Association. My research on immigration policy and Latino ethnic identity received the best paper presented in the Race, Ethnicity, and Politics section of APSA in 2015. In other work in health policy, I explore attitudes toward the Affordable Health Care Act. My research has appeared in journals such as Political Research Quarterly and the Journal of Health Policy, Politics, and Law.
Race, Ethnicity and Politics
Immigration & Citizenship
Social Construction Theory
Criminal Justice Policy
Objective In the aggregate, people are socioeconomic indicators who are better off in high social capital environments. But the gap between natives and immigrants is large in these same areas. In this article, we offer an alternative argument for the effect of social capital on inequality between immigrants and natives. Methods We use a duration modeling analysis of data on migratory stays supplied by the Mexican Migration Project to link social capital to immigration trends. Results We suggest that social capital may be reducing equality for benign reasons and show that social capital is a resource that mostly benefits unauthorized immigrants in punitive policy environments. Unauthorized immigrants are encouraged to settle in high social capital states to gain access to these resources. This group tends to be less assimilated and possesses few socioeconomic resources. Conclusion High social capital states are unequal not because social capital produces inequality but because it is valued by immigrants who are faring poorly. The most vulnerable immigrants benefit the most from living in places where social networks and feelings of generalized trust are strong.
Policy feedback theory argues that public policies shape mass political behavior by teaching citizens about their relationship to government. I reevaluate this argument by examining how criminal justice policy shapes the political orientations and participation of blacks and whites. I argue that, because these policies send different messages to blacks than to whites about the treatment they can expect from government, these groups have opposite reactions to criminal justice enforcement. Using data from a 2014 national survey and information on local criminal justice outcomes, I find that racially skewed criminal justice enforcement is associated with negative political orientations and lower rates of political participation for highly educated blacks. I also find that whites respond positively to similar criminal justice outcomes when they reside in areas with large black populations. The results show that unequal policy outcomes lead to political inequality.
We consider two ways that public opinion influenced the diffusion of ACA policy choices from 2010 through 2014. First, we consider the policy feedback mechanism, which suggests that policy decisions have spillover effects that influence opinions in other states; residents in the home state then influence the decisions of elected officials. We find that both gubernatorial ACA announcements and grant activity increased support for the ACA in nearby states. Consistent with our expectations, however, only gubernatorial announcements respond to shifts in ACA support, presumably because it is a more salient policy than grant activity. Second, we test for the opinion learning mechanism, which suggests that shifts in public opinion in other states provide a signal to elected officials about the viability of decisions in their own state. We find evidence that states are more likely to emulate other states with similar ACA policy preferences when deciding about when to announce their decisions. Our results suggest that scholars and policy makers should consider how shifts in public support influence the spread of ideas across the American states.