“The Participatory Implications of Racialized Policy Feedback." Perspectives on Politics. w/ Garcia-Rios, S., Lajevardi, N., & Walker, H. (FirstView) [PDF]
How do involuntary interactions with authoritarian institutions shape political engagement? The policy feedback literature suggests that interactions with authoritarian policies undercut political participation. However, research in racial and ethnic politics offers reason to believe that these experiences may increase citizens’ engagement. Drawing on group attachment and discrimination research, we argue that mobilization is contingent on individuals’ political psychological state. Relative to their counterparts, individuals with a politicized group identity will display higher odds of political engagement when exposed to authoritarian institutions. To evaluate our theory, we draw on the 2016 Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Study to examine the experiences of Blacks, Latinos, and Asian Americans. For all subgroups and different types of institutions, we find that, for those with a politicized group identity, institutional contact is associated with higher odds of participation. Our research modifies the classic policy feedback framework, which neglects group-based narratives in the calculus of collective action.
“Undermining Sanctuary? When Local and National Partisan Cues Diverge." 2023. Urban Affairs Review, 59(1): 133-169. w/ Collingwood, L. & Martinez, G. [PDF]
To what extent do national partisan cues exert influence over local voting behavior? Despite being an “immigrant welcoming city,” in November, 2019, Tucson, Arizona, voters rejected Prop. 205—the Tucson Families Free and Together Initiative. We leverage theories of elite partisan cues to explain why voters in a progressive city voted against such an initiative. In contrast to Democratic support for sanctuary cities at the national level, we argue that mixed cues from local Democratic elites contributed significantly to a surprising rejection of the initiative. Using aggregate-level data and a framing experiment, we find that the local political environment split Democratic votes (50% favored, 50% opposed) while keeping Republican voters—who received consistent elite cues of opposition—uniformly against the proposition. This study illustrates how local partisan elite cues can shape ballot initiative voting outcomes, even to the point of overriding negative partisanship and national co-partisan consensus on the same issue.
“Fight Not Flight: The Effects of Explicit Racism on Minority Political Engagement." 2022. Electoral Studies, 80: 102515. w/ Besco, R., Garcia-Rios, S., Lagodny, J., Lajevardi, N., & Tolley, E. [PDF]
Explicit racism in political campaigns is on the rise. Some research suggests policy threat and government discrimination are correlated with increased political participation, while others find evidence of alienation and withdrawal. However, little direct causal evidence exists on the effects of inflammatory campaign rhetoric on marginalized groups. Using a survey experiment of Latinx Americans, we investigate how exposure to racist political attacks shapes a targeted group’s political engagement. We find that randomized exposure to a stylized campaign video critical of immigrants or Latinx people increases vote intention and enthusiasm, but does not affect other political actions, such as donating and protesting. Increased participation effects are concentrated among respondents who report strong Latino identity and low political interest. These findings highlight the resilience of minority communities who respond to political attacks with political mobilization, not avoidance. Together, this causal evidence complements previous observational work and shows that mobilization can result not just from policy threat and state action, but also from campaign rhetoric.
“Hate, Amplified? Social Media News Consumption and Anti-Muslim Policy Support." 2022. Journal of Public Policy, 42: 656-683. w/ Lajevardi, N., & Walker, H. [PDF]
Research finds that social media platforms' peer-to-peer structures shapes the public discourse, and increases citizens' likelihood of exposure to unregulated, false, and prejudicial content. Here, we test whether self-reported reliance on social media as a primary news source is linked to racialized policy support, taking the case of U.S. Muslims, a publicly visible but understudied group about whom significant false and prejudicial content is abundant on these platforms. Drawing on three original surveys and the Nationscape Dataset, we find a strong and consistent association between reliance on social media and support for a range of anti-Muslim policies. Importantly, reliance on social media is linked to policy attitudes across the partisan divide and for individuals who reported holding positive or negative feelings towards Muslims. These findings highlight the need for further investigation into the political ramification of information presented on contemporary social media outlets, particularly information related to stigmatized groups.
“Estimating Candidate Support in Voting Rights Act Cases: Comparing Iterative EI & EI-RxC Methods.” 2022. Sociological Methods and Research, 51(1): 271-304. w/ Barreto M., Collingwood, L. & Garcia-Rios, S. [PDF]
Scholars and legal practitioners of voting rights are concerned with estimating individual-level voting behavior from aggregate-level data. The most commonly used technique, King’s ecological inference (EI), has been questioned for inflexibility in multiethnic settings or with multiple candidates. One method for estimating vote support for multiple candidates in the same election is called ecological inference: row by columns (R×C). While some simulations suggest that R×C may produce more precise estimates than the iterative EI technique, there has not been a comprehensive side-by-side comparison of the two methods using real election data that analysts and legal practitioners often rely upon in courts. We fill this void by comparing iterative EI and R×C models with a new statistical package—eiCompare—in a variety of R×C combinations including 2 candidates and 2 groups, 3 candidates and 3 groups, and up to 12 candidates and three groups and multiple candidates and four groups. Additionally, we examine the two methods with 500 simulated data sets that differ in combinations of heterogeneity, polarization, and correlation. Finally, we introduce a new model congruence score to aid scholars and voting rights analysts in the substantive interpretation of the estimates. Across all of our analyses, we find that both methods produce substantively similar results. This suggests that iterative EI and R×C can be used interchangeably when assessing precinct-level voting patterns in Voting Rights Act cases and that neither method produces bias in favor or against finding racially polarized voting patterns.
“Beyond Generalized Ethnocentrism: Islam-Specific Beliefs and Prejudice toward Muslim Americans.” 2021. Politics, Groups, and Identities, 9(3): 538-565.. w/ Dana, K. & Barreto, M. [PDF]
Much of what we know theoretically and empirically about attitudes toward racialized minorities in the US is predicated on early research on white opinion toward Black Americans. Although Muslim Americans have garnered considerable political attention and have been exposed to tremendous scrutiny and discrimination since 9/11, not many theoretical insights apart from generalized ethnocentric accounts have been offered to explain unfavorable attitudes toward this population, let alone the prevalence of community-level opposition toward proposed mosque projects. We offer a theoretical perspective grounded in orientalist notions of Islam and set group-specific measures focused on the perceived beliefs and behaviors of Muslim Americans against indicators of generalized ethnocentrism. Our findings highlight the limitations of applying general models of intergroup relations to understanding the dynamics of prejudice toward Muslim Americans. We conclude by encouraging scholars to consider more distinctive, group-specific constructs that could aid advocacy groups and policymakers to combat prejudice and discrimination against American Muslims.
“Opinion Shift and Stability: The Information Environment and Long-Lasting Opposition to Trump's Muslim Ban." 2021. Political Behavior, 43: 301-337. w/ Lajevardi, N. & Collingwood, L. [PDF]
On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed executive order 13769, which denied citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries entry into the United States. Opposition to what was termed the “Muslim ban” quickly amassed, producing sudden shifts to the information environment and to individual-level preferences. The present study examines whether within-subject shifts against the ban lasted over an extended period of time. Evidence from a three-wave panel study indicates that individual-level opinions, once they shifted against the ban, remained fairly stable one year later. Analysis of a large corpus of cable broadcast transcripts and newspaper articles further demonstrates that coverage of the ban from February 2017 to January 2018 did not dissipate, remained largely critical, and lacked any significant counter-narratives to potentially alter citizens’ preferences once again. Our study underscores the potential of capturing the dynamics of rapid attitudinal shifts with timely panel data, and of assessing the durability of such changes over time. It also highlights how mass movements and political communication may alter and stabilize citizens’ policy preferences, even those that target stigmatized groups.
“The Role of Identity Prioritization: Why Some Latinx Support Restrictionist Immigration Policies and Candidates." 2020. Public Opinion Quarterly, 84: 860-891. w/ Hickel, F., Alamillo, R. & Collingwood, L. [PDF]
Social Identity Theory suggests that individuals are motivated to support/oppose policies and politicians that benefit/harm members of their ingroup as a means of protecting their social status. Since the Republican Party’s rhetoric against immigrants in recent decades has often been viewed as an assault upon those of Latinx descent, it is not surprising that strong majorities oppose restrictionist immigration policies and support the Democratic Party. However, the existing literature has overlooked why a sizable minority of Latinx voters express support for restrictionist immigration policies and the politicians who espouse them. Our analysis of Latinx voters with the 2012 and 2016 American National Election Studies (ANES) demonstrates that the degree to which individuals prioritize their US American identity over their Latinx identity has a significant influence over support for conservative immigration policies and GOP candidates. This relationship emerges above and beyond partisanship, ideology, and other key explanatory factors. Such attitudes likely represent an individual social mobility strategy in which members of a social group attempt to “pass” as a member of a higher-status group. Prioritizing a US American identity, supporting the Republican Party, and expressing hostility toward the interests of undocumented immigrants are a means of distinguishing themselves from a social group that has become increasingly associated with negative stereotypes. In contrast, those who are unwilling or unable to make this transition are likely pursuing a collective social mobility strategy (e.g., linked fate) whereby they attempt to enhance their individual status by elevating that of the entire social group.
Can different experiences with discrimination produce divergent political behaviors? Does it make a difference whether individuals are discriminated against by their peers or community members in the course of everyday life as opposed to political actors or institutions tasked with upholding democratic norms of equality and fairness? Crossing disciplinary boundaries, this study proposes a new theoretical perspective regarding the relationship between discrimination and political behavior. Specifically, it distinguishes between societal (interpersonal) and political (systematic) discrimination when examining the behaviors of racial and ethnic minorities in Great Britain. The results illustrate that although experiences of political discrimination may motivate individuals to take part in mainstream politics for substantive or expressive purposes, the same conclusion cannot necessarily be drawn for those who experience societal rejection. The principal aim of this study is to further highlight the complex and multidimensional nature of discrimination, and to encourage further analyses of how different types of discrimination may impact the civic and political behaviors of minority groups.
“The Paradox Between Integration and Perceived Discrimination Among American Muslims.” 2020. Political Psychology, 41(3): 587-606. w/ Lajevardi, N., Walker, H. & Westfall, A. [PDF]
*Winner of the 2019 American Political Science Association Race, Ethnicity, and Politics Section Best Paper Award.
Muslim Americans are increasingly integrated into American life, displaying high socioeconomic status, political participation, and adherence to American values. However, they are evaluated more negatively than many other racial, ethnic, and religious minorities and are frequent targets of discrimination. This article examines the mismatch between the integration of Muslims and their poor reception. Drawing on theories of cultural fluency and cognitive dissonance, we argue that cultural integration can exacerbate, rather than mitigate, perceived discrimination because integrated individuals are socialized to expect fair treatment and can recognize and decode even subtle forms of discrimination due to high levels of cultural and language fluency. Using three nationally representative surveys and an opt-in, online study of American Muslims between 2007 and 2017, we find that integrated Muslims are consistently more likely than their counterparts to report individual- and group-level societal and political discrimination. The paradox between adopting the host culture and feeling marginalized poses a challenge to the assumption that integration naturally leads to a sense of belonging among minorities, with important implications for liberal democracies.
“Veiled Politics: Experiences with Discrimination among Muslim Americans.” 2019. Politics and Religion, 12(2): 629-677. w/ Dana, K., Lajevardi, N. & Walker, H. [PDF]
Anecdotal evidence suggests that Muslim American women who wear the hijab may be particularly vulnerable to the experiences of stigmatization because the hijab represents one of the most obvious and dominant markers of “otherness.” Yet, extant research has surprisingly neglected to systematically examine how such external markers of difference can increase perceptions of discrimination. Drawing from two nationally representative datasets, we examine perceived discrimination among Muslim Americans, and find that veiled women report experiencing both societal and institutional discrimination at much higher rates than their counterparts. In fact, our findings show that the hijab is one of the most important predictors of self-reported discrimination among all Muslim Americans. Interestingly, however, we also find that men are more likely than women to perceive discrimination once we account for the role of the hijab. Our analysis makes an important contribution to existing research by highlighting the unique experiences of a religious minority group and identifies one important and previously underexplored mechanism by which individuals may be targeted for discrimination—the hijab.
“Partisan Attitudes toward Sanctuary Cities: The Asymmetrical Effects of Political Knowledge.” 2018. Politics and Policy, 46(6): 951-984. w/ Dreier, S. & Collingwood, L. [PDF]
Sanctuary city policies seek to protect undocumented community members from federal detention or deportation. Debates over sanctuary cities have become increasingly prominent and partisan in American politics. Republicans accuse sanctuary cities of enabling crime, while Democrats laud them for protecting communities from rights violations. Despite partisan salience, we have little information about peoples’ substantive knowledge of sanctuary policies or how crucial that knowledge is in shaping partisan attitudes toward those policies. Drawing on a unique survey dataset of sanctuary attitudes, we demonstrate that an absence of political knowledge has asymmetrical effects on sanctuary attitudes along ideological and partisan lines. Knowledge about sanctuary policies increases support for sanctuary cities among liberals/Democrats, whereas conservatives/Republicans do not require substantive knowledge to align their attitudes on sanctuary cities with their ideological predispositions. This finding advances scholarship on the interplay between political knowledge and ideology, and has important immigration-related policy and advocacy implications.
“A Change of Heart? Why Individual-Level Public Opinion Shifted against Trump’s 'Muslim Ban.'” 2018. Political Behavior, 40: 1035-1072. w/ Collingwood, L. & Lajevardi, N. [PDF]
Public opinion research suggests that rapid and significant individual-level fluctuations in opinions toward various policies is fairly unexpected absent methodological artifacts. While this may generally be the case, some political actions can and do face tremendous backlash, potentially impacting public evaluations. Leveraging broadcast and newspaper transcripts as well as a unique two-wave panel study we demonstrate that a non-random, rapid shift in opinions occurred shortly after President Donald Trump signed executive order 13769 into law, which barred individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days. The ban set off a fury of protests across U.S. cities and airports, garnering tremendous media attention and discussion. Drawing insights from literature on priming, we claim that an influx of new information portraying the “Muslim Ban” at odds with inclusive elements of American identity prompted some citizens to shift their attitudes. Our study highlights the potential broad political effects of mass movements and protests as it pertains to policies that impact racialized minority groups, and suggests that preferences can shift quickly in response to changing political circumstances.
“Old-Fashioned Racism, Modern Islamophobia, and the Political Isolation of Muslim Americans in the Age of Trump.” 2018. Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics, 3(1): 112-152. w/Lajevardi, N. [PDF]
While extant research has documented the existence of negative attitudes toward Muslim Americans, it is unclear whether old-fashioned racism (OFR) is at the root of contemporary Islamophobia, and whether beliefs in the inherent inferiority of Muslims are linked to support for political actors and policies that aim to further isolate them. Bringing to bear a unique dataset of 1,044 white, black, Latino, and Asian participants, we demonstrate that a nontrivial portion of survey respondents make blatantly racist evaluations and rate Muslim Americans as the least “evolved” group. Next, we illustrate that these dehumanizing attitudes are strongly linked to modern objections of Muslim Americans, which we measure with a new Muslim American resentment scale (MAR). Our mediation analysis reveals that the relationship between OFR, support for President Trump, and various policy positions is powerfully mediated by MAR. These results suggest that the relevance of OFR in contemporary politics should not easily be dismissed, and that the literature on racial attitudes, which has predominantly focused on the Black-white dichotomy, should also be extended to appraisals of Muslim
“The Politics of Choice Reconsidered: Partisanship, Ideology, and Minority Politics in Washington’s Charter School Initiative.” 2018. State Politics and Policy Quarterly, 18(1): 61-92. w/ Collingwood, L. & Jochim A.. [PDF]
Charter schools enjoy support among Republican and Democratic lawmakers in states and Congress, but little research has examined their support among the electorate. We take advantage of Washington’s 2012 charter school ballot initiative—the first voter-approved charter initiative in the United States—to shed light on the politics of school choice at the mass level. Because in-depth, individual-level voter data are often unavailable in state-level elections, we leverage extensive precinct- and district-level data to examine patterns of support and opposition toward the charter school initiative, focusing on how partisanship, ideology, and demographic factors serve to unify or divide voters. Our analysis reveals that the coalition of supporters cut across usual partisan and demographic cleavages, producing somewhat strange bedfellows. This finding has important implications for the strategies advocacy groups may consider as they seek to expand or limit school choice programs via ballot initiatives as opposed to the statehouse, and provides suggestive evidence regarding the evolving shapers of voter support for school choice and ballot initiatives more generally.
“Muslims in Great Britain: The Impact of Mosque Attendance on Political Behaviour and Civic Engagement.” 2018. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 44(9): 1479-1505. w/ Dana, K. [PDF]
Is mosque attendance associated with withdrawal from civic and political life and the endorsement of politically motivated violence (PMV)? We draw from a large multi-ethnic survey in the U.K. to answer this research question. Our analysis is unique in that we compare Muslims to Christians to show that mosques, just like churches, can enhance the civic and political participation of their adherents. Drawing from scholarship on religious institutions, social capital, and social identity, we claim and empirically show that mosque attendance is associated with increased electoral and non-electoral political participation, higher levels of civic engagement, and the rejection of PMV. Our findings not only advance the current scholarly understanding of the attitudes and behaviours of Muslims in the West, but also have important policy implications in that they help dispel stereotypical and sensationalist accounts of Mosques and their adherents in the post-Brexit U.K.
“eiCompare: Comparing Ecological Inference Estimates across EI and EI: RxC.” 2016. R Journal, 8(2): 92-101. w/ Collingwood, L., Barreto, M. & Garcia-Rios, S. [PDF]
Social scientists and statisticians often use aggregate data to predict individual-level behavior because the latter are not always available. Various statistical techniques have been developed to make inferences from one level (e.g., precinct) to another level (e.g., individual voter) that minimize errors associated with ecological inference. While ecological inference has been shown to be highly problematic in a wide array of scientific fields, many political scientists and analysis employ the techniques when studying voting patterns. Indeed, federal voting rights lawsuits now require such an analysis, yet expert reports are not consistent in which type of ecological inference is used. This is especially the case in the analysis of racially polarized voting when there are multiple candidates and multiple racial groups. The eiCompare package was developed to easily assess two of the more common ecological inference methods: EI and EI:R×C. The package facilitates a seamless comparison between these methods so that scholars and legal practitioners can easily assess the two methods and whether they produce similar or disparate findings.
“How Discrimination Impacts Sociopolitical Behavior: A Multidimensional Perspective.” 2016. Political Psychology, 37(5): 613-640. [PDF]
The conventional wisdom regarding the impact of discrimination on political behavior is that the perception of prejudiced treatment motivates individuals to take political action. This study challenges this common conception by demonstrating that the source of discrimination can play a significant role in whether perceived or experienced injustice leads to activism or withdrawal from sociopolitical life. Drawing from political science and social psychology literature, this study provides a new perspective on the potential effects of discrimination on a relatively new marginalized group in the United States. Specifically, an important distinction is drawn between political (systematic) and societal (interpersonal) discrimination in analyzing the sociopolitical behavior of American Muslims in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The results will hopefully encourage scholars to take a deeper look at the nexus between discrimination and democratic engagement, which is an important, complex, multidimensional, and understudied topic.
“Mosques as American Institutions: Mosque Attendance, Religiosity and Integration into the Political System among American Muslims.” 2011. Religions, 2(4): 504-524. w/ Dana, K. & Barreto, M. [PDF]
Religious institutions and places of worship have played a pivotal role in American Politics. What about the role of the mosque? Does the mosque, as an institution, in any sense play a different role than that of churches or synagogues in political participation? Some scholars have argued that Islam as a religion and a culture is incompatible with liberal, democratic American values; not only is Islam inconsistent with the West, but it poses a direct conflict. This viewpoint has likewise been popularized in American and European media and by some government officials who have labeled Muslims as enemies of freedom and democracy. Through the examination of the Muslim American Public Opinion Survey (MAPOS), which has a large sample size of American Muslim respondents (N = 1410), we argue that the mosque emerges as an important indicator for Muslim social and political integration into American society. We demonstrate that not only are those Muslims who attend the mosque regularly more likely to identify as American Muslims rather than by national origin, they are also more likely to believe mosques encourage Muslims to integrate into U.S. society. Our analysis further exemplifies that mosque attendance and involvement, beyond creating a common identity among American Muslims, leads to more political participation in the U.S. In contrast to prevailing wisdom, we also find that more religiously devout Muslims are significantly more likely to support political participation. Based on our findings, we conclude that there is nothing inconsistent with the mosque and American democracy, and in fact, religiosity fosters support for American democratic values.