My dissertation project tracks the treatment of Muslims in American politics by the masses, the media, and legislators through a series of field experiments on political elites and the masses, a framing experiment, and text analysis of media coverage spanning a period of 20 years. In the United States, race plays a significant role in shaping White attitudes in their evaluation of minority groups. All else equal, Whites tend to discriminate against minority candidates and groups. This work, however, has not yet engaged Muslim Americans; a group once protected under a “cloak of whiteness” before 9/11, and one that has subsequently become racialized. Muslim Americans are an important group to study because they are one of the only groups in the United States to have moved from being viewed as a religious group, composed of members who were deemed White under the law, to one of the most villainized groups in society today.
Voter Identification laws have been subject to great debate for over 60 years. Enacted with the intention of making participation in the franchise more rigorous, the long-term effects of these laws remain unknown. Yet, this is an important question of substance. Through the vote, citizens choose leaders, sway policy, and generally influence democracy. By contrast, those who don’t can be ignored. Given that more than half of the nation’s population is currently subject to these laws, that stricter laws are being considered in multiple states, and that the courts are actively evaluating the merits of these laws in a series of landmark cases, there is a compelling need to know exactly what the true impact of these laws is, especially in a post Shelby v. Holder world. In this paper, my coauthors and I track how strict versus non strict voter identification laws from 2008-2014 empirically affect the turnout of Democrats and minority racial groups. We find sizable, significant, and negative effects on Democratic and minority turnout and an increase in the white and non-white participation gap.
In a series of three field experiments on state and congressional legislators, my coauthor and I track how legislators discriminate against fictional constituents who ask for help enrolling their 5 year old child in school when the race and immigration status of the fictional are randomly assigned to one of four groups: White citizens, Hispanic citizens, Hispanic documented immigrants, and Hispanic undocumented immigrants. Most importantly, our study challenges the Butler and Broockman (2011) finding that the race of the legislator is the most important and predictive variable for determining responsiveness towards minority constituents. The three experiments conclusively show that the responsiveness component to representation functions differently for Latinos as opposed to Blacks. We discover that for Latinos, the party rather than the race of the legislator is the most important factor determining responsiveness. Moreover, by varying the immigration status of the fictional constituent writing to ask for a non-partisan and non-racialized constituency service, we discern that both Republican and Democratic legislators consider the winning of Latino voters’ allegiances as important for continued electoral success. Yet, because Republican legislators have explicitly pursued an agenda supportive of more exacting immigration laws, they infer that undocumented Latinos are unlikely to support them electorally at present or in the future and therefore have minimal incentives to expend their limited resources beyond responsive to them.