Alejandra Aldridge

Ph.D. Candidate
Job Market Candidates
Cohort
2016
Dissertation Title
Presidential Influence on Democratic Norms
Alejandra Aldridge

I study how people think about democracy and examine what moderates peoples' views on what is appropriate in a democracy. In a core part of my dissertation, I study the role of presidents in maintaining and destroying democratic norms through the lens of partisanship. My work lies at the intersection of the presidency, partisanship, and democracy. I find that, while in the aggregate people are reasonably sensitive to differences in the severity of democratic norms, they often choose their party and their president over support for democratic norms. I am also interested in democratic functionality broadly, and have work that studies democratic accountability and candidate emergence. I investigate these research areas with surveys and experimental methods, including field and survey experiments. 

I explore how people react when a president from their own party violates democratic norms. Using two large-n original survey experiments that vary explicit and implicit partisanship cues, I show that partisanship is a predominant lens through which people view democracy. Democratic and Republican respondents are more likely to think an action is democratically appropriate when done by a president from their own party. We also see that members of the Democratic and Republican parties are starkly different in their treatment of democracy: Republican respondents have a higher tolerance for norm violations than Democratic respondents in all scenarios, and Democratic respondents are generally resistant to executive action, including democratically appropriate actions. The fact that members of the two major parties diverge on how to react to democratic norm violations calls into question how long our democracy can stand given the role that partisanship and presidents play in undermining democratic norms.

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Research Interests

Fields of Study
American Politics
Comparative Politics