Research Projects

This is a partial list of research topics that I am working on.
If you are interested in obtaining more information about them, please contact me.

Interest Groups

    My book The Indirect Effect of Direct Legislation, published by The Ohio State University Press, examines the effect of direct legislation opportunities on interest group mobilizations, characteristics and lobbying behavior. Using a formal model of policymaking, I argue that the incentives that the initiative process creates lead initiative states to have interest group populations that are larger, more representative and that focus more on outside rather than inside lobbying. These predictions are confirmed through a series of empirical tests. The Introduction is available online.

    In addition, I have a series of papers that follow up on this line of research by further investigating the effect of the initiative process on interest group populations, including survival rates, lobbying expenditures and interest group attention to legislative bills.

Direct Legislation

    Besides its effect on interests groups, I have other research projects which study the effects direct legislation on other areas of state politics. One project with John Patty develops a model that shows how voters can use limited information to help make more informed decisions when voting on initiatives. Specifically, we show that the fact that the legislature preferred not to enact the group's policy before it became an initiative should make voters wary of the initiative's effect on them, and that their wariness should increase as the group gets larger. A second project explores the causes of statewide variation in the number of initiatives that reach the ballot, focusing in particular on the composition of state interest group populations.

    A second set of papers with Mike Alvarez studies the signature gathering process in California using data on signatures gathered for eight different ballot measure. One paper studies the distribution of signatures across counties as a function of social and demographic factors. We find that the distribution of signatures is surprisingly equitable. A second paper links the signature gathering process to political involvement and outcomes by studying how variation in the intensity of signature gathering campaigns across counties influences roll-off, turnout, registration and vote choice for our eight measures.

Indian Gaming

    Rick Witmer and I are working on a project which studies the effect of gaming revenues on Indian nations political behavior. Currently we have one paper which studies the factors that are conducive to the signing successful gaming agreements, known as compacts, between states and Indian nations. We also study how gaming revenues have translated into political activity by studying political expenditures by Indian nations. A second paper argues that changes wrought by gaming have allowed Indian nations to achieve political incorporation in the political system through the use of interest group strategies. This paper documents the increase in Indian nations' lobbying expenditures and campaign contributions at the Federal level. We are extending this research as we develop a book manuscript on tribal political activities at the state (in particular in California) and Federal levels. We focus on a variety of activities, including campaign contributions, soft money expenditures, lobbying expenditures, state lobby registrations, use of the direct initiative process, and the content of bills lobbied on. Some of this research is available in papers presented at conferences (one on Senate lobbying, total Federal expenditures and one on political activities in California).

Selection Bias

    I have two papers which deal with issues of selection in political science research. The first paper discusses problems with estimating a specific class of models with selection (stochastic truncation models) and proposes a method to help get estimates.

    The second project, with Dan Morey and Meg Shannon, examines the effect of non-random sample selection for duration models. Through a series of Monte Carlo simulations we show that estimating standard duration models (exponential, Weibull, Cox) on data that suffer from selectivity generally results in biased coefficient estimates and duration dependence parameters. We propose a full information maximum likelihood estimator to account for the selection process and obtain unbiased parameter estimates. Our Stata program to estimate our proposed estimators is called DURSEL and is available for installation from my Methods and Data page.

Venue Choice

    Sean Gailmard, John Patty and I have developed a theory of venue choice by interest groups. In particular, we are interested in understanding how the delegation of policymaking authority to the bureaucracy structures patterns of interest group lobbying and legislative response to that lobbying. We are gathering data at both the Federal and state levels to test our theory.
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Last Updated: September 22, 2016