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(Working papers available upon request)


Dissertation and Book Project


The Values and Vices of a Veteran Voice 


This project explores the significant role of military service in American electoral politics, from historical slogans like "Tippecanoe and Tyler, too!" to modern campaign tactics like assembling an AR-15 blindfolded. It acknowledges that although military candidates frequently participate in congressional elections, the advantage they gain is not consistently clear. The study aims to understand why military candidates remain prominent despite mixed electoral outcomes, and it redefines the benefits and drawbacks of incorporating military service into campaigns. The research employs a combination of methods including campaign observations, content analysis of campaign materials, a survey experiment, and observational analyses. Ultimately, unsuccessful military candidates contribute to politics by changing evaluations of political parties, though this may come at the cost of long-term damage to the military's reputation.

Other Works in Progress

"The Corporal as Congressional Candidate" (Working Paper)

Despite norms of military non-participation in politics and regulations inhibiting the political activity of uniformed troops, former service members’ presence in politics is a truism since the founding of the country. In 2018 alone, over 170 candidates with military service ran for congressional office. This paper provides a descriptive account of the campaign messaging employed by military candidates in the 2018 Midterm Elections and assesses how these strategies differ from their civilian counterparts. To describe these choices, I offer a theory of military campaigning that explains how military candidates use their background to construct their image as a candidate. This theory suggests that group stereotypes of military service members and district features affect the campaign rhetoric a candidate employs when presenting themselves to potential voters. Furthermore, public valorization of the military encourages candidates to connect military service to policies beyond traditional military strengths. Military candidates provide a descriptive account of how positive group stereotypes can be used to shape public perceptions of a candidate.

"Tweeting from the Campaign Trenches" (Working Paper)

While military candidates emphasize their service records in the carefully curated world of campaign videos, it remains unclear if these patterns translate to other forms of campaign communication. This chapter details the online campaign messaging employed by military candidates in the 2018 Midterm Elections and assesses how these strategies differ from both their civilian counterparts and formal campaign videos and appearances. To describe campaigning, I offer an updated theory of military campaigning that accounts for differences in the online campaign environment. In the process, this work provides evidence of positive, non-defensive use of identity in online congressional campaigning.

"The Paradox of Veterans' Participation in Congressional Campaigns" (Working Paper)

While military candidates emphasize their service records in the carefully curated world of campaign videos and official tweets, the extent of the impact of the military congressional campaigns remains unclear. This chapter of my dissertation details the effect of military campaigning using a survey experiment and observational data to show how the revelation of military service records and tailored military messaging affect impressions of candidates, party evaluations, and potential electoral margins. I show that both candidates and parties are evaluated more positively when military service is mentioned, but these features come at the expense of greater politicization of the military. The results highlight the paradox of military candidates - the parties recruiting military candidates benefit at the expense of politicizing the military.

"Leveraging Trust: The Impact of Veterans as Poll Workers on Electoral Confidence" 

In response to poll worker shortages, organizations like Vet the Vote are recruiting veterans to serve in these roles. This project explores the effect of these military veterans serving as poll workers through survey experiments. I argue that the presence of military veterans will increase trust in US elections for Americans with high levels of confidence and trust in the military. As a result, military veterans may be a solution to recent concerns with US elections; however, these benefits likely come at the cost of public evaluations of the military. By positioning veterans in highly visible, non-military civic roles, there is a risk of eroding perceptions of the military’s traditional apolitical stance. In total, this project evaluates whether the positive association with veterans can counteract the growing distrust in electoral processes and if the military's perceived impartiality can be maintained.

Co-Authored Work

"Occupational Cues and Candidate Evaluation" (with R. William Horne)

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