In my dissertation project, I explore how emotionally-resonant discourse influences the salience of the immigration issue. Using both experimental and observational data, I find that immigration becomes most salient for individuals when they feel angry about it, rather than when they are anxious. Importantly, this effect is isolated mainly on the political right, as left-wing and centrist individuals rarely express anger about immigration or consider it to be a salient political issue.
In my ongoing research, I further investigate how far-right discourse serves as a meaning-making practice. In “Reconciling National and Supranational Identities,” I explore how far-right parties discursively construct the notion of “European civilization” and reconcile it with their pre-existing nationalism. In “Rhetorical Coercion and Mainstreaming Anti-Immigration Discourse,” I examine how the far right’s adoption of progressive or liberal themes in its discourse influences mainstream parties’ treatment of the immigration issue. In “Discursive Dominance by Tweet,” I study how the rise of Donald Trump catalyzed a fundamental shift in the discursive practices of the Republican Party.
Alongside my interest in political discourse and the far right, I have coauthored several papers with Cynthia McClintock exploring the adoption of ranked-choice voting (RCV) in the United States. Our work examines the public’s reception of RCV, particularly when the rule produces surprising results through a “come-from-behind victory” (CFBV). Our other coauthored research explores the adoption and repeal of runoff, both in the U.S. and globally.