My research interests lie at the intersection of legislative politics and political behavior and focus on how constituents’ interactions with their legislators translate into representation. My dissertation addresses the role that constituent service, or the process of seeking assistance from legislators, plays in connecting constituents and their representatives in Congress. Theoretically, it centers constituents’ experiences in the process of constituent service to explore how and why constituents seek help from their elected representatives. Empirically, I use original and existing survey data, archival data, and a conjoint experiment to study the various ways in which constituent-initiated contact with legislators affects representation. Although constituent service requests make up a relatively small proportion of the overall constituent correspondence that legislators receive, asking legislators for help serves an important expressive function for constituents—so much so that constituents prefer to seek help from legislators who share their party.
My other research projects about legislatures, constituent service, and elections also address questions of partisanship, representation, and inequality. In “Explaining Uncontested Seats in Congress and State Legislatures,” which I published with Barry Burden in American Politics Research, we show that the uncontested seat rate has increased in state legislatures while declining in Congress and find that the “flippability” of the partisan control of legislatures explains these diverging trends in contestation. My working paper with Justin Grimmer, Devin Judge-Lord, and Eleanor Powell, titled “Who Gets Constituent Service?”, uses an original dataset containing over 300,000 instances of contact between members of Congress and the bureaucracy to show that Republican legislators are less likely than Democratic legislators to provide service to low-income constituents but not to veterans or seniors. My other ongoing solo-authored projects examine partisan and economic inequalities in constituent service.