Political Science PhD student of American politics and political psychology, with research interests revolving around questions of individual opinion formation and change, group identity, partisanship, and prejudice.
First, if you're looking for the Marvel superhero, you've come to the wrong place. That Ezekiel Wright is a vigilante who uses magic — I'm a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota in the department of Political Science. I am affiliated with the college's Center for the Study of Political Psychology, an interdisciplinary effort between the departments of Psychology, Political Science, and the School of Journalism & Mass Communication. I'm also a participant in the department's PhD concentration in Power, Equity, and Diversity, an intellectual sub-community where those people and topics marginalized within the discipline are put at the center of inquiry. I received a master's in Political Science at the University of Rhode Island, and, prior to that, a bachelor's at Ithaca College (double-major in Writing and Politics). Between Ithaca and graduate school I spent five years as a journalist and freelance writer.
My academic interests generally revolve around "why do we believe what we believe, and why do we (not) change those beliefs?"
Political attitudes are a difficult matter to study, with many indications that homo politicus functions as an irrational ad hoc being, individually or in groups, motivated by emotion, tribalism, and bias. Few people believe their own political views to be incoherent, yet many political scientists maintain that most are. So my interest in political beliefs is rooted in the need to explain my own viewpoints, the views of people I disagree with, and those who might believe in the patently false but nonetheless can't be dissuaded.
I have two black cats and a puppo named June. She appears to be a "Carolina dog", which is a type of semi-feral native dog originating from the Southeast US — although June hails from a South Dakota reservation. In my spare time I like to grill, visit dog parks and dog-friendly breweries, ride my motorcycle, and play PUBG Mobile.
Please feel free to reach out through any of the contact methods listed below. Chances are I'd love to chat, debate, or collaborate!
"Belief systems have never surrendered easily to empirical study or quantification. Indeed, they have often served as primary exhibits for the doctrine that what is important to study cannot be measured and that what can be measured is not important to study." (Converse 1964)
My current research concerns the "alt-right" and how it forms a relevant social identity for some anti-establishment conservatives. Using survey and experimental results, I evaluate the attitudes, behaviors, and characteristics of those who identify as "alt-right". Another recent project looks at how House Republicans' levels of support or opposition to Trump in 2016 influenced their district races and their districts' support for their party's presidential nominee. I am updating this project in time for the 2018 midterm elections, with the question focused on whether House Republicans' varying support for Trump in 2016 has been a reliable cue for their constituents, and how those constituents have responded.
I have also evaluated the extent to which so-called "economic anxiety" was a factor in support for Trump in 2016. My research indicates that it was, that the construction of a multi-item scale is important in capturing what I call "economic pessimism", and that this subjective attitude is significant and substantive in predicting vote choice when interacted with an objective measure like income. A few other past projects have looked at affective polarization, the strength and malleability of partisanship, and the effect of legislative term limits on state immigration policy.