General Interests

I study political parties, mainly in the contexts of Europe and the United States. My research aims to better understand both the causes and consequences of choices in electoral competition. My research agenda remains broad, though I have begun to explore particular aspects of electoral competition. Past and future projects relate more specifically to far right electoral outcomes, divergences in far right party strategies, causes of issue-positional shifts among all parties, and the ways in which national historical legacies manifest in electoral competition. At present, my dissertation investigates whether and how historical legacies help and/or hurt far right parties. It explores the effects of historical associations for party emergence, sustainability, and electoral outcomes.

I employ both quantitative and qualitative methods. I have field experience interviewing political elites in Spain and doing archival work in Spain and Italy. I also have experience working with large observational datasets in R and STATA as well as text-as-data in Python. I plan to continue to methodologically grow through ongoing coursework and practice.

I expect to update this page as my research agenda changes.

Working Papers:

Aligning incentives? Party position change on immigration in the European 'Refugee Crisis'

Abstract: Do rapid changes in national levels of racial diversity induce parties to shift their issue positions? Many Western liberal democracies have undergone processes of racial diversification in the 21st century. The ways in which parties react to such changes are normatively important for the survival of liberal democracy and empirically relevant for understanding party competition in advanced democracies. While past work has looked at how demographic change affects party positions in the long term, relatively less work investigates how rapid and sizable changes to national diversity are met by parties. I address this gap by examining issue-positional change on immigration for political parties in EU countries throughout the so-called European ‘Refugee Crisis.’ Using standard OLS modeling and an instrumental variable (IV) strategy, the data suggest that high levels of racial diversification at the national level generally drove a restrictive shift in party positions on immigration. However, when further parsing the data, I find heterogenous effects by incumbency status and general ideological orientations. The overall effects are driven by parties in opposition at the onset of the ‘crisis’ as well as center right parties. I argue that these heterogenous effects can be explained through a series of conflicting or aligning incentives relating to governing responsibilities, ideological commitments, electoral strategies, and the existence of already polar positions. These findings suggest that to understand party politics, backlash, and reactions to crises, we must carefully parse the incentives that different parties encounter when forced to confront an issue.

Gender violence policies and radical right divergence: Understanding differences between Spain and Italy

Abstract: Why do radical right parties adopt different strategies on gender equality? This paper examines possible determinants of divergent strategies of radical right parties in Spain (Vox) and Italy (Lega and Fratelli d’Italia). The paper looks specifically to the issue of gender-based violence. Vox stands in vocal opposition to targeted policies aimed to address gender violence, labeling attempts of government action as evidence of an “ideology of gender” and an encroaching “progressive dictatorship.” Lega and Fratelli d’Italia, on the other hand, are generally supportive of gender violence policies that aim to enhance protections for women. Alternatively, they both frame gender as an integral component of their narrative on immigration, multiculturalism, and Islam, arguing that the protection of (native) women necessitates an opposition to Muslim immigration. These strategies are not novel, and the diversity of gender equality positions among the radical right is well documented in the literature. The determinants of such positions, however, is not as well studied. This paper proposes a host of theories that could account for diverging strategies on gender violence policy among radical right parties. Using a loosely controlled comparison and a series of hoop tests, the paper argues that domestic context is an essential variable to explain policy positions. Both the party marketplace (and national competition over the anti-immigrant vote) and state-promoted feminism create opportunity structures in each country that incentivize particular policy positions and account for cross-national differences in Spain and Italy.

Past Projects:

Populism and the Pandemic: France and the Rassemblement National

In a book chapter on populist reactions to the pandemic and cross-national report on social media communication, both co-authored with Marta Lorimer (LSE), we explore the rhetoric and actions Marine Le Pen and her Rassemblement National (RN) party throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic. In both pieces, we argue that Le Pen and the RN engaged in a careful strategy of balancing respectability and radicalization. The strategy fits well with the party's attempt to 'de-demonize' itself, a choice driven largely by incentives present in the French electoral system.

Ending the Spanish Exception: Explaining the Rise of Vox

My undergraduate senior thesis in Government addresses the rise of a radical right party in Spain. In 2019, Voxa previously unrepresented party in the national parliamentbecame the third largest party in the Spanish congress. Drawing on both quantitative analysis and qualitative interviews conducted with regional party representatives in Spain, the thesis addresses the rise of Vox by discussing the various political opportunities that the party capitalized on. I argue that opportunities present in Spanish formal institutions, the party system, and short-term contextual events created a favorable moment for a radical right party to emerge when it did. The thesis argues that it this combination of opportunities that pushed Vox to break into the party marketplace. Perhaps most relevant to this emergence, the thesis argues, was its ownership over the issue of immigration. The thesis sought to add to the vast literature on radical right party emergence while focusing on a relatively new case.

The thesis can be found here.