A Survey of Political Donors

Using a new sampling methodology, I conduct a survey of contributors who gave to Senate candidates in the 2012 election cycle.  The sampling methodology allows me to compare the ideology of donors with those they contribute to to as well as with those who represent them.  Previous surveys of donors have not been able to make these direct comparisons.  Using these responses in conjunction with the 2012 CCES data, I show that Senate candidates are more extreme than their constituents, but ideologically in line with those who give money.  These results help explain why representatives can remain out of step with their constituents while not always suffering electorally.

Inequality and Polarization in U.S. State Legislatures

(with Alex Bolton)

Using measures of inequality over time in the U.S. states and new measures of ideological polarization in U.S. state legislatures, we show that inequality and polarization are closely related. Previous studies of this relationship have been limited by the fact that the we only have one measure of polarization and inequality at the federal level. Our results mirror results at the federal level.  However, by having 50 different states, we show that the relationship is more than a spurious relationship.

Using Floor Speeches to Measure Legislators' Ideology

(with Alex Ruder)

We use every word spoken on the floor of the U.S. House to estimate the ideology of U.S. House Members.  We show that these measures correlate with vote-based measures of ideology.  However, by using speech, we can estimate the ideology of any person for which spoken or written words exist, such as challengers, activists, and legislators at every level of government.  Moreover, the method allows us to investigate whether legislators adapt the ideological content of their language in different locations and at different times.