Welcome! I am an Assistant Professor of Political Science and a Resident Fellow in the Institution of Social and Policy Studies at Yale University. I completed my Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Michigan in June 2019, specializing in American political institutions, formal and quantitative methods, and public policy.
Broadly, I study the role of legislatures, executives, and the bureaucracy in policymaking; and use a variety of methods (e.g., formal, parametric, non-parametric, qualitative) to address significant questions central to contemporary American politics. In my dissertation research, I examine how presidents strategically use vacancies in top appointments to promote their policy priorities within the framework of interbranch bargaining. I also have research in progress that considers bipartisanship in Congress, state legislative actions to limit public sector collective bargaining, and state executive responses to national health policy initiatives.
I also hold an M.P.A. in Public and Economic Policy from the London School of Economics and B.A.'s in Political Science and Economics from UCLA. I grew up on the beaches of the South Bay in Los Angeles, California. Nowadays, two spirited children, Eleanor (4 years) and Ethan (2 years), keep Cory (my better half) and me entertained.
Research in Progress
Executive and Bureaucratic Politics
Control without Confirmation: The Politics of Vacancies in Presidential Appointments
Job Market Paper: "Control without Confirmation: The Politics of Vacancies in Presidential Appointments"
My dissertation research examines the strategies that underlie presidents' choices to leave certain positions requiring Senate confirmation empty or to fill them with interim appointees without submitting a nomination. This project explores the effect of these decisions on the politics of the nomination-confirmation process, on the degree of Congressional oversight, and on the effectiveness of the bureaucracy in shaping and achieving the president's policy goals. I combine an innovative theoretical model with new data to study a question that has been largely ignored in executive politics research: how do presidents use vacancies in their top appointments to pursue their political and policy agendas? Specifically, I argue that presidents strategically use their prerogative to immediately fill vacancies with unconfirmed "acting" officials, or leave them empty, to expand their executive power. Executive politics scholars claim that the Senate's refusal to confirm appointments damages the president's ability to exercise his authority and execute the law. However, this theory identifies conditions under which presidents, when they use empty posts and interim appointments, capitalize on their first-mover advantage to subvert the Senate's power to refuse confirmation.
Finding Common Ground: Bipartisan Action in Congress (with Charles R. Shipan)
While political commentators regularly declare that bipartisanship has all but disappeared, we actually know very little about how often bipartisan action occurs and how it changes throughout the legislative process. Moreover, there is substantially less agreement about how we measure bipartisanship when it does occur. Political scientists have yet to settle on how much support establishes a bill as ‘bipartisan,’ or which types of bipartisan action matter. In our working paper, we address each of these issues with original data, new measures, and an innovative methodological approach. First, we evaluate the bipartisanship of various stages in the legislative process for major legislation from 1981 to 2012. Using summaries from the Congressional Quarterly, we code each bill on eight dimensions: bipartisan and partisan for committee and floor actions in the House and Senate. Next, we develop new continuous measures of bipartisanship for co-sponsorship coalitions and floor votes that accommodate nuances not captured by conventional, dichotomous ones. Lastly, we use these new data and measures to examine how (bi)partianship at each stage contributes to the (bi)partisanship of final votes. We recognize that the nonlinear complexity of the legislative process and the shortage of theoretical expectations make more conventional parametric approaches unattractive for estimating which types of bipartisan action matter. Consequently, we pursue a semi-nonparametric estimation strategy using feed-forward backpropagation artificial neural networks to identify which features of the legislative process are most predictive of bipartisan voting in Congress.
State Politics and Policy
Why have efforts to restrict public sector collective bargaining succeeded in some states and not others? Current explanations point us to variation in partisan control of policy-making institutions, states’ fiscal health, macroeconomic forces, and declining union membership. In this paper, we suggest this picture is incomplete. Drawing on the comparative political economy literature, we argue that the degree to which union members are concentrated in a small number of unions shapes unions’ ability to overcome collective action problems that stymie their deployment of political influence. We constructed a Herfindahl-Hirschman Index to measure concentration in union membership for each state-year. We compiled a dataset of 1,472 state legislative proposals pertaining to public sector union collective bargaining between 2011 and 2014. Employing random-effects ordered probit estimation, we find that increases in union concentration are associated with an increased probability that a states’ legislators will not propose to restrict collective bargaining powers, or that–in the event they do–the proposal will not succeed.
The Distributive Politics of Implementation: Governors and the Medicaid Expansion
Governors' decisions to support or oppose expanding Medicaid eligibility in their states does not fall strictly along the partisan or public opinion lines that delegate models of representation would expect. Neither state financial consequences or absent constituent need explain the variation in governor opposition. What is driving the decision to oppose this constituent-centered, federally-funded health policy? I argue that the answer begins with recognizing how potentially eligible beneficiaries overlap with electoral constituencies using a distributive politics framework. I contend that governors strategically support the Medicaid expansion when their electorally supportive constituencies will benefit - either directly through eligible beneficiaries or indirectly through coverage of uncompensated care - at least as much as the unsupportive ones. I offer evidence that the distributions of potential Medicaid-expansion beneficiaries vary by level of electoral support when governors oppose the expansion, but not when governors support it.
Peer Reviewed Journal Articles
Roby DH, Watson G, Jacobs K, Graham-Squire D, Kinane CM, Gans D, and Needleman J. “Modeling the Impact of the Affordable Care Act and the Individual Mandate on Californians.” Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 34(1): January 2013.
"Newly Insured Californians Would Fall by More than 1 Million under the Affordable Care Act without the Requirement to Purchase Insurance." UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, January 2012. (Coauthored).
"Proposed Regulations Could Limit Access to Affordable Health Coverage for Workers Children and Family Members." University of California, Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, December 2011. (Coauthored).
"Who Can Participate in the California Health Benefit Exchange? The Profile of Subsidy-Eligible Uninsured and Individually Insured." UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, May 2011. (with Naderah Pourat and Gerald F. Kominski).