Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

1) Alexa Bankert, and Helmut Norpoth (2013). “Guns N Jobs -The FDR Legacy.” Electoral Studies, 32(3): 551 - 556. 

The intrusion of war is likely to alter the standard economic voting calculus. A wartime economy is not expected to deliver the same political benefits or costs, in terms of presidential approval or votes in an election, as does a peacetime economy. The Roosevelt presidency presents a perfect target to examine economic voting in wartime. Using monthly polling data on presidential approval from late 1937 to 1945, we demonstrate that the American public suspended standard economic-voting logic during World War II. One explanation for this suspension is the enormous size of U.S. military spending. Using data on government spending from 1929 to 1950, we show that military spending had a huge effect on unemployment while the effect of non-military spending proves negligible and non-significant. It was military spending triggered by war, not the New Deal, that vanquished the Great Depression. (PDF)

2) Benjamin J. Newman, Yamil Velez, Todd K. Hartman, and Alexa Bankert (2015).
“Are Citizens Receiving the Treatment? Assessing a Key Link in Contextual Theories of Public Opinion and Political Behavior.” Political Psychology, 36: 123-131.

The theorization and empirical exploration of contextual effects is a long-standing feature of public opinion and political behavior research. At present, however, there is little to no evidence that citizens actually perceive the local contextual factors theorized to influence their attitudes and behaviors. In this article, we focus on two of the most prevalent contextual factors appearing in theories—racial/ethnic and economic context—to investigate whether citizens' perceptions of their local ethnic and economic contexts map onto variation in the actual ethnic composition and economic health of these environments. Using national survey data combined with Census data, and focusing on the popular topics of immigration and unemployment, we find that objective measures of the size of the immigrant population and unemployment rate in respondents' county and zip code strongly predict perceived levels of local immigration and assessments of the health of one's local job market. In addition to demonstrating that citizens are “receiving the treatment,” we show that perceptions of one's context overwhelmingly mediate the effect of these objective contextual factors on relevant economic and immigration attitudes. The results from our analyses provide scholars with unprecedented evidence that a key perceptual process presumed in various contextual theories of political attitudes and behavior is, in fact, valid. (PDF)

3) Alexa Bankert, Leonie Huddy, and Martin Rosema. “Measuring Partisanship as a Social Identity in Multi-Party Systems.” Political Behavior: 1-30. (Blog article about the paper here)

There is no doubt that partisanship is a powerful influence on democratic political behavior. But there is also a lively debate on its nature and origins: Is it largely instrumental in nature and shaped by party performance and issues stances? Or is it basically a long-standing expressive identity reinforced by motivated reasoning and strong emotion? We assess the nature of partisanship in the European context, examining the measurement properties and predictive validity of a multi-item partisan identity scale included in national surveys conducted in the Netherlands, Sweden, and the U.K. Using a latent variable model, we show that an eight-item partisan identity scale provides greater information about partisan intensity than a standard single-item and has the same measurement properties across the three countries. In addition, the identity scale better predicts in-party voting and political participation than a measure of ideological intensity (based on both left-right self-placement and agreement with the party on key issues), providing support for an expressive approach to partisanship in several European democracies. (PDF)

4) Reuben Kline, Alexa Bankert, Lindsey Levitan and Patrick Kraft. "Introducing Multilevel Meta-Analysis to Political Science: An Application to Personality and Prosocial Behavior." Accepted at Political Science Research and Methods.

We introduce the multilevel meta-analysis (MLMA) framework to Political Science. By leveraging individual observations from all studies and explicitly modeling the multilevel structure of the data, MLMA permits the simultaneous estimation of study and individual-level effects. MLMA also produces more efficient parameter estimates than conventional meta-analysis using fixed or random effects. To demonstrate the utility of MLMA we investigate the effect of personality on prosocial behavior using Bayesian methods. The Bayesian approach allows us to estimate study-level effects in an unbiased and efficient manner, even with a relatively small number of studies. With data from 15 studies constituting more than 2,800 individual observations, we find that the Big-5 traits of Agreeableness and Openness are significantly and positively associated with prosocial behavior, while none of the other three traits are. These results are robust to a number of different model specifications, and greatly clarify the contradictory findings in the literature on the relationship between personality and prosocial behavior. Though previous research has indicated that incentivized experiments result in reduced prosocial behavior, we find no evidence that the method of participant incentivization affects prosocial tendencies. We conclude by discussing the advantages of the MLMA method for political science more broadly. (PDF) (Appendix)

5) Kristin Garrett and Alexa Bankert. "The Moral Roots of Partisan Division: How Moral Conviction Heightens Affective Polarization." Accepted at British Journal of Political Science. 

Partisan bias and hostility have increased substantially over the last few decades in the American electorate, and previous work shows that partisan strength and sort- ing help drive this trend. Drawing on insights from moral psychology, however, we posit that partisan moral convictions heighten affective polarization beyond the effects of partisanship, increasing partisan animosity and copartisan favoritism. Testing this theory using data from two national samples and novel measures of affective polariza- tion in everyday life, we find that people who tend to moralize politics display more partisan bias, distance, and hostility, irrespective of partisan strength. These results shed light on a different moral divide that separates the American public and raise key normative questions about moral conviction and electoral politics. (PDF) (Appendix)

Manuscripts Under Review


"The Authoritarian Divide within the Democratic Party" With Julie Wronski, April Johnson, Karyn Amira, and Lindsey Levitan. 

Authoritarianism has been predominantly utilized in American politics as a predictor of Republican identification and conservative policy preferences. We argue that this approach has neglected the role of authoritarianism among Democrats, and ignored the group-centric nature of authoritarianism, which can operate within political parties regardless of their ideological orientation. Drawing from two distinct sets of data, we demonstrate this phenomenon using the example of the 2016 Democratic Party’s primaries. Authoritarianism consistently predicts
differences in primary voting among white Democrats, particularly support for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. This effect is robust across various model specifications including controls for ideology and partisan strength. These results highlight the potential of authoritarianism to determine the direction of the Democratic Party. Given these results, we advocate for a reconsideration of authoritarianism as a disposition with meaningful consequences for intraparty dynamics. We conclude with practical implications regarding the future of the Democratic Party.

"Minding The (Experimental) Gap(s): Prosociality with Real and Hypothetical Stakes in the Lab and Online" With Reuben Kline. 

Experimental Political Science offers a diverse toolbox of methods that has attracted an equally diverse audience ranging from political psychologists to behavioral economists. While these scholars share an interest in similar concepts, they markedly differ in their philosophy towards and implementation of experimental studies. This difference is particularly notable in the compensation of participants: Behavioral economists rely on incentivization to induce preferences over experimental outcomes while political psychologists typically utilize extra-credit or flat payments. The use of real stakes is especially important for studies that employ economic games to measure prosocial orientations. Yet, we lack a comprehensive overview of how real stakes impact decision-making in a range of widely used games. Even more so, it remains unclear whether such stakes have similar effects in both in-person laboratory studies and online studies. This manuscript addresses these gaps in the literature, confirming and challenging some conventional notions in experimental political science.

"Expressive vs. Instrumental Partisanship in European Multi-Party Systems" With Leonie Huddy and Caitlin Davies. 

Partisanship has a powerful influence on political behavior in the United States but its influence is less certain in European democracies. Part of the debate concerning the influence of partisanship in Europe centers on its nature. From one perspective, partisanship is seen as grounded in factors such as ratings of government performance and agreement with the party’s issue stances. We refer to this as the instrumental model. In the US, however, a competing model has gained empirical support in which partisanship is defined as an identity that is largely defensive in nature and not especially reactive to ongoing events. We refer to this an expressive model. In this review, we focus on several European democracies (the UK, Netherlands, Sweden, and Italy) and evaluate evidence for and against an expressive model of partisanship in which democratic citizens act to defend their party in order to maintain its positive standing. We find evidence that strong partisans in Europe exhibit five characteristics of expressive partisans: stable partisan identity, motivated reasoning in defense of the party,the greater influence of identity than issues and ideology in shaping vote choice and political behavior, affective polarization bias in favor of one’s own party, and the existence of strong defensive emotions aroused by partisan threats and reassurances. It appears that partisans in the four European democracies act in similar ways to partisans in the United States. Nonetheless, levels of partisan identification differ across the European nations and between European nations and the US helping to explain national differences in the intensity of partisan behavior.

Working Papers


"Negative and Positive Partisanship in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections" 

Partisanship has become the culprit behind almost everything that aches American democracy ranging from blind support of the inparty to heightened levels of outparty hostility. Yet, research in social psychology has long made the case that strong ingroup attachments do not have to be accompanied by outgroup animosity. In political science, the term “negative partisanship” tries to capture this notion, which has gained increasing relevance in the context of affective polarization. While some researchers have used negative partisanship primarily as a predictor of the vote, questions regarding the adequate measurement of this relatively novel concept remain unexplored. Moreover, these measurement issues have made it difficult to disentangle the effects of positive and negative partisan identity on political behavior. This project tries to address these gaps in the literature in several ways. First, I design and examine the measurement properties of a novel multi-item scale that measures negative partisan identity among Americans. Second, I demonstrate that – while a majority of Americans display aspects of both negative and positive partisan identity – the two are distinct constructs. Third, I compare the power of both types of partisan identity in predicting vote choice, inparty support, and outparty hostility in the 2016 presidential elections, thereby demonstrating the distinctive effects of negative and positive partisan identity on a range of political behaviors. The results offer a more nuanced perspective on partisanship and provide an impetus for research on how to combat affect polarization. 

"The Differential Effects of Gender Discrimination on Liberal and Conservative Women’s Political Engagement"

As the past election season has shown, sexism is a pervasive phenomenon in American politics. While political scientists have focused on the impact of sexism on female candidates’ evaluations and electoral chances, we know little about the effect of personally experienced sexism on American women’s political engagement. This paper tries to address this gap. Using data from the 2016 ANES Pilot Study as well as a survey experiment, I demonstrate that women who have been discriminated against due to their sex or gender report higher levels of political interest and political participation. Interestingly, however, as women become more conservative in their political leanings, personal experience with sexism loses its power in driving women’s interest in politics and their level of political engagement. These findings have implications for the equal representation of women from both ends of the ideological spectrum and pose questions about the way ideology enables or hinders women in their struggle for equal access to political power.