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Recent Faculty Publications

The Political Science faculty at the University of Minnesota are leading publishers in their field. They are authors of paradigm-shifting books and deliver signal and enduring contributions to their field. They are published by the most respected presses and contribute to the most widely read journals.


Book cover of Information, Democracy and Autocracy.

Information, Democracy and Autocracy: Economic Transparency and Political (In)Stability
(Cambridge University Press, 2018)

Advocates for economic development often call for greater transparency. But what does transparency really mean? What are its consequences? This breakthrough book demonstrates how information impacts major political phenomena, including mass protest, the survival of dictatorships, democratic stability, as well as economic performance. The book introduces a new measure of a specific facet of transparency: the dissemination of economic data. Analysis shows that democracies make economic data more available than do similarly developed autocracies. Transparency attracts investment and makes democracies more resilient to breakdown. But transparency has a dubious consequence under autocracy: political instability. Mass-unrest becomes more likely, and transparency can facilitate democratic transition - but most often a new despotic regime displaces the old. Autocratic leaders may also turn these threats to their advantage, using the risk of mass-unrest that transparency portends to unify the ruling elite. Policy-makers must recognize the trade-offs transparency entails.

Cover of book titled Partisans, Antipartisans, and Nonpartisans: Voting Behavior in Brazil by David Samuels

Partisans, Antipartisans, and Nonpartisans: Voting Behavior in Brazil
(Cambridge University Press, 2018)

Conventional Wisdom suggests that partisanship has little impact on voter behavior in Brazil; what matters most is pork-barreling, incumbent performance, and candidates' charisma. This book shows that soon after redemocratization in the 1980s, over half of Brazilian voters expressed either a strong affinity or antipathy for or against a particular political party. In particular, that the contours of positive and negative partisanship in Brazil have mainly been shaped by how people feel about one party - the Workers' Party (PT). Voter behavior in Brazil has largely been structured around sentiment for or against this one party, and not any of Brazil's many others. The authors show how the PT managed to successfully cultivate widespread partisanship in a difficult environment, and also explain the emergence of anti-PT attitudes. They then reveal how positive and negative partisanship shape voters' attitudes about politics and policy, and how they shape their choices in the ballot booth.

Cover of book titled Wars of Law by Tanisha M. Fazal

Wars of Law: Unintended Consequences in the Regulation of Armed Conflict
(Cornell University Press, 2018)

This book assesses the unintended consequences of the proliferation of the laws of war. In the mid-19th century there was one codified law of war. In 2018, there are over 70 such laws, and they place increasing constraints on belligerents. I argue that this increase has generated significant consequences for the commencement, conduct, and conclusion of both interstate and civil wars. States fighting interstate wars today prefer not to step over any bright lines where the laws of war would apply unequivocally. Thus, these states have stopped declaring war and concluding peace treaties. Rebel groups – particularly, secessionists that seek their own independent state – by contrast, have increasingly engaged with the laws of war. Secessionists are relatively unlikely to target civilians, and there is an increasing rate of peace treaty usage in civil wars that contrasts with the decline in interstate war. This research is based on two major original datasets as well as a series of case studies, and is particularly unusual in combining analysis of interstate and civil wars.


Open versus Closed: Personality, Identity, and the Politics of Redistribution

Open versus Closed: Personality, Identity, and the Politics of Redistribution
(Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Christopher D. Johnston, Howard Lavine, and Christopher M. Federico

Debates over redistribution, social welfare, and market regulation are central to American politics. Why do some of us prefer a large role for government in the economic life of the nation while others prefer a smaller role? In Open Versus Closed, the authors argue that these preferences are not always what they seem. They show how deep-seated personality traits underpinning the culture wars over race and immigration, sexuality, gender roles, and religion influence debates about economics, binding cultural and economic preferences together in unexpected ways. Integrating insights from both psychology and political scienceand twenty years of observational and experimental datathe authors reveal the deeper motivations driving attitudes toward government. The book concludes that for the politically engaged these attitudes are not primarily driven by self-interest but by a desire to express the traits and cultural commitments that define their identities.

Articles and Book Chapters

Kathryn Pearson, Ashley English, and Dara Z. Strolovitch, "Who Represents Me? Race, Gender, Partisan Congruence, and Representational Alternatives in a Polarized America," Political Research Quarterly, October 21, 2018, 1-20.

The belief among citizens that their views are represented is essential to the legitimacy of American democracy, but few studies have explicitly examined which political actors Americans feel best represent them. Using data from the 2006 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, we ask new questions about whether respondents who share a partisan, racial, or gender identification with their members of Congress (MCs) feel those members best represent them. Although the framers designed the House so that individuals' own MCs would be their closest and most responsive representatives, a majority of respondents turn to other actors for representation. Partisanship is a key reason for this attenuated connection, as respondents who do not share a partisan identification with their MCs are more likely than those who do to rely on their party's congressional leaders or advocacy organizations for representation instead. Sharing a racial identification with one's own MC can strengthen representational connections as respondents who share a racial identity with their MCs are significantly more likely than respondents who do not to indicate that their MC represents them "the most." These results shed light on enduring questions about the significance of symbolic representation and its link to partisanship and descriptive representation.

James Hollyer, Eric Arias, and B. Peter Rosendorff, "Cooperative Autocracies: Leader Survival, Creditworthiness, and Bilateral Investment Treaties," American Journal of Political Science, August 30, 2018, 1-17.

Capital accumulation is essential for economic development, but investors face risk when putting their capital to productive use. Bilateral investment treaties (BITs) commit leaders to limiting their takings of foreign assets and the revenues they generate. We offer theory and evidence that BITs enhance leader survival more in autocracies than democracies. BITs improve the "investment climate" in signatory states, and they do so by more in autocratic polities. Hazard models offer supporting evidence of improved autocratic leader survival. The improvement in the investment climate is evidenced by improvement of creditworthiness scores and higher sovereign bond prices, again with greater effect in autocratic states. Autocratic leaders have the most to gain from importing property rights-enhancing institutions.

Ronald Krebs and Jennifer Spindel, "Divided Priorities: Why and When Allies Differ Over Military Intervention," Security Studies, July 9, 2018, 1-32.

Scholars have vigorously debated whether adversaries carefully scrutinize if states have, in the past, demonstrated toughness and whether adversaries base present and future crisis-bargaining behavior on this record. If they do--as a central strain of deterrence theory, and its contemporary defenders, maintain--hard-line policies, including limited military interventions, can bolster deterrence. We know much less about a second audience that is presumably attentive to demonstrations of resolve: allies. A common view, derived from the same logic, and which we call Hawkish Reassurance Theory, suggests that states should support and find reassuring their allies' faraway military interventions. In contrast, we argue that such interventions call into doubt the intervener's will and capacity to fulfill its core alliance commitments, undermind the credibility of the alliance, and threaten allies' security in both the short and long run. Allies thus ultimately oppose powerful partners' hawkish postures in distant conflicts, and they may even consequently explore routes to security beyond the alliance. To assess this argument, we examine the varied stances leading US allies took from the start of the US intervention in Vietnam through its end. Allied behavior was largely consisten with our expectations. We conclude that, if one reason to deploy force is to signal to allies that you will come to their aid when they call, states should not bother.

Christopher Federico, Allison Williams, and Joseph Vitriol, "The Role of System Identity Threat in Conspiracy Theory Endorsement," European Journal of Social Psychology, April 18, 2018: 1-38.

Conspiracy theories about government officials and the institutions they represent are widespread, and span the ideological spectrum. In this study, we test hypotheses suggesting that system identity threat, or a perception that society’s fundamental, defining values are under siege due to social change will predict conspiracy thinking. Across two samples (N=870, N=2,702), we found that system identity threat is a strong predictor of a general tendency toward conspiracy thinking and endorsement of both ideological and non-ideological conspiracy theories, even after accounting for numerous covariates. We also found that the relationship between system-identity threat and conspiracy-theory endorsement is mediated by conspiracy thinking. These results suggest that conspiracy-theory endorsement may be a compensatory reaction to perceptions that society’s essential character is changing.  

Anoop Sarbahi and Ore Koren, "State Capacity, Insurgency, and Civil War: A Disaggregated Analysis," International Studies Quarterly, February, 24, 2018: 1-15.

Scholars frequently use country-level indicators such as gross domestic product, bureaucratic quality, and military spending to approximate state capacity. These factors capture the aggregate level of state capacity, but do not adequately approximate the actual distribution of capacity within states. This presents a major problem, as intrastate variations in state capacity provide crucial information for understanding the relationship between state capacity and civil war. We offer nighttime light emissions as a measure of state capacity. It allows us to differentiate the influence of local variation on the outbreak of civil wars within the country from the effect of aggregate state capacity at the country level. We articulate pathways linking the distribution of nighttime light with the expansion of state capacity and validate our indicator against other measures at different levels of disaggregation across multiple contexts. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we find that civil wars are more likely to erupt where the state exercises more control. We provide three mechanisms that, we believe, account for thie counterintuitive finding: rebel gravitation, elite fragmentation, and expansion reaction. In the first scenario, state presence attracts insurgent activities. In the second, insurgents emerge as a result of the fragmentation of political elites. In the third, antistate groups react violently to the state penetrating into a given territory. Finally, we validate these mechanisms using evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Tanisha Fazal"Rebellion, War Aims & the Laws of War," Daedalus, Winter 2017: 71-82.

Most wars today are civil wars, but we have little understanding of the conditions under which rebel groups might comply with the laws of war. i ask three questions in this essay: What do the laws of war require of rebels, or armed nonstate actors (ansas)? To what extent are rebels aware of the laws of war? Under what conditions do rebel groups comply with international humanitarian law? i argue that the war aims of rebel groups are key to understanding their relationship with the laws of war. In particular, secessionist rebel groups – those that seek a new, independent state – are especially likely to comply with the laws of war as a means to signal their capacity and willingness to be good citizens of the international community to which they seek admission.

Mark Bell, "Nuclear Opportunism: A Theory of How States Use Nuclear Weapons in International Politics," Journal of Strategic Studies, November 2017: 1-26.

How do states use nuclear weapons to achieve their goals in international politics? Nuclear weapons can influence state decisions about a range of strategic choices relating to military aggression, the scope of foreign policy objectives, and relations with allies. The article offers a theory of explain why emerging nuclear powers use nuclear weapons to facilitate different foreign policies: becoming more or less aggressive; providing additional support to allies or proxies, seeking independence from allies; or expanding the state's goals in international politics. Bell argues that a state's choices depend on the presence of severe territorial threats or an ongoing war, the presence of allies that provide for the state's security, and whether the state is increasing in relative power. The conclusion discusses implications of the argument for our understanding of nuclear weapons and the history of proliferation, and nonproliferation policy today.

August Nimtz, "'The Bolsheviks Come to Power': A New Interpretation," Science & Society, Vol. 81, No 4, October 2017: 478-500.

In the weeks leading up to the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917 Lenin engaged in an intense debate with his comrades. Should and could the provisional government be overthrown? If so, when should it be done? And could the new regime hold power? Lenin, often in the minority, insisted that the Bolsheviks not only should but could successfully lead Russia's workers and peasants to power-- and that that conquest could be sustained. He also insisted on determining when best to make the overturn. Defending his position, Lenin frequently made reference to "objective facts," such as "elections to the city councils... and soviets" where "the Bolsheviks have majorities." What exactly was he referring to and what did he mean? What were the assumptions and framework underlying his argument that eventually won over the majority of the Bolshevik Central Committee to his position? To fully understand Lenin's stance it is necessary, Nimtz contends, to turn to Marx and Engels.

Andrew Karch, Adam Olson, Tim Callaghan, "Return of the "Rightful Remedy": Partisan Federalism, Resource Availability, and Nullification Legislation in the American States," Publius: October 26, 2017 (published online).

The early twenty-first century has seen elevated tensions between the American states and their national government. The proliferation of state proposals to "nullify" national laws is one manifestation of this intergovernmnetal conflict. Nullification legislation has appeared in every state and addressed issues that span the ideological spectrum. This article build an original dataset of over 1,500 nullifications proposals that appeared in state legislatures from 2010 to 2016. It identifies three types of nullification-related legislation, including one that has not previously been recognized in the literature, and finds that very little current nullification-related activity consists of classical efforts to declare a national law null and void. It also assesses the factors associated with the introduction and enactment of nullification legislation. Its analysis reveals that, consistent with the notion of "partisan federalism," Republican legislative control is associated with more nullification-related activity. Such activity is also more likely in more populous states.

Christopher Federico, Howard Lavine, Matthew Luttig, "Supporters and Opponents of Donald Trump Respond Differently to Racial Cues: An Experimental Analysis," Research & Politics: September 2017 (published online).

A number of recent studies suggest that individuals who exhibit high levels of racial animosity strongly support Donald Trump, while racial liberals strongly oppose him. This paper provides a new experimental analysis of the extent to which supporters and opponents of Trump respond differently to race-related stimuli. Specifically, we examine whether attitudes toward Trump moderate the political impact of racial cues in the environment. We find that white Trump supporters randomly exposed to a black (versus a white) man in the context of soliciting their support for a housing-assistance policy were more opposed to the policy, angrier about the policy, and more likely to blame beneficiaries for their situation. The opposite pattern prevailed among whites with unfavorable opinions of Trump. Our results help provide new insight into how Trump supporters and opponents differ in their responses to the salience of race in American politics.

Teri Caraway and Michele Ford, "Institutions and Collective Action in Divided Labour Movements: Evidence from Indonesia," Journal of Industrial Relations: Vol 59 Issue 4, August 4th, 2017.

Under what conditions do trade unions in divided labour movements cooperate? Does cooperation in one domain increase the likelihood of cooperation in the other? Do institutions facilitate or discourage cooperation? We explore these questions through an examination of collective action across federation and confederation lines in post-Suharto Indonesia. Using a comparison of union cooperation in the policy and electoral domains, we demonstrate that tripartite wage-setting institutions have played a central role in facilitating collective action in the policy domain, encouraging unions to look beyond shop-level issues to policy issues identified by their respective national organizations as affecting workers. The relative absence of collective action across organizational divides in the electoral domain, meanwhile, can be explained by the institutional context, which creates higher barriers to unions working together.

Howard Lavine and Yamil Velez, "Racial Diversity and the Dynamics of Authoritarianism," The Journal of Politics: Volumne 79, Number 2, April 2017.

Past work on the political impact of racial diversity has focused on direct effects, demonstrating that diverse environments are associated with more negative--or in some circumstances, more positive--racial attitudes and race-targeted policy preferences. We show that diversity functions in a second  way, as a variable that magnifies the political impact of individual differences in the psychological disposition of authoritarianism. Using a national sample, we find that in white areas with minimal diversity, authoritarianism had no impact on racial prejudice, political intolerance, and attitudes toward immigration. As diversity rises, however, authoritarianism plays an increasingly dominant role in political judgment. In diverse environments, authoritarians become more racially, ethnically, and politically intolerant and nonauthoritarians less so. We conceptually replicate these findings in a dorm setting with plausible exogenous levels of local diversity and discuss the implications of our findings in terms of the various ways in which ethno-racial diversity structures political attitudes.