I study the intersection of bureaucratic politics and political behavior, demonstrating the wide-ranging consequences of government action on public perceptions of institutions and the social world. I devote particular focus to law enforcement agencies which, despite their normative importance as one of the most visible and powerful public bureaucracies, have received relatively scant attention from political scientists to date. My dissertation, funded by the National Science Foundation, examines the politics and social impact of law enforcement tactics and police militarization on police-citizen interactions and citizen attitudes. I develop and test a theory of how citizens infer the status of social problems by taking cues from the actions of government agents. I show that when bureaucrats publicly display new tactics, they can unintentionally skew perceptions of the social problems they are tasked with addressing, and undermine their agency’s political goals (e.g. securing increased funding), findings with far-reaching implications for the study of bureaucracy, representation and policy development.
In addition to my dissertation, I have authored studies on several topics in political behavior, including partisan polarization, political communication and racial and ethnic politics. I also conduct methodological research on issues relevant to my substantive work, including statistical modeling and experimental design. My research exploits a range of data sources and research designs including survey and natural experiments, qualitative interviews and administrative records obtained through public information requests to government agencies. My work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Journal of Politics (two articles), American Politics Research and Politics, Groups and Identities. Before beginning my doctoral studies, I was a staff writer at The Washington Post, where I covered crime and politics in the Washington, D.C. region.