My research investigates how presidents build winning legislative coalitions in Congress. Contrary to conventional wisdom, presidents rarely pass their major initiatives with only partisan support. Presidents often need the support of opposition party members to offset “nay” votes from members of the president’s party, which are far more frequent than political scientists, pundits, and the American public realize. I analyze members’ votes from 1957 to the present and find empirical evidence that members’ voting behavior on the presidential agenda results from constituency influence and members’ electoral incentives. Normatively, this research finds that representation and democratic accountability are alive and well in the American political system.
In addition to my passion for empirical research, I am strongly committed to graduate and undergraduate education. My interactive teaching style engages students and encourages them to make their own intellectual discoveries and form their own opinions about the political world. To this end, I use an abundance of multimedia tools in the classroom, including video clips, class polls, newspaper articles, and Facebook groups. My highest compliments come when students tell me that my classes cause them to 1) care about politics, 2) want to participate in America’s democracy, and 3) respect the opinions of those who disagree with their own political views by understanding that, despite our differences, we are all patriotic Americans who want the best for our country.
My current CV is here.