David Doherty Assistant Professor of Political Science
I am an assistant professor of political science at Loyola University Chicago where I teach courses on American politics and political behavior.
My research addresses a variety of issues related to political attitudes and behavior. I am particularly interested in:
public perceptions and evaluations of political processes--how people want political actors to make decisions, what procedures they view as fair and unfair, and how they make inferences about what drives representatives and other political elites;
lab, survey, and field experimental research methods;
how elite communications affect voters' attitudes and behavior;
innovative approaches to teaching political concepts and methods to undergraduate and graduate students.
My work has appeared in journals including The American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, The Journal of Politics, Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Behavior, American Politics Research, Social Science Quarterly, Political Research Quarterly, and Journal of Political Science Education. See below for a full list of my publications and working papers, including links to papers.
Assistant Professor, Loyola University Chicago, 2011-present.
PhD, Political Science: University of Colorado, 2008 Fields of Specialization: American Politics, Political Methodology
Dissertation: "Perceived Motivations in the Political Arena".
Committee: Jennifer Wolak (advisor), Ken Bickers, Vanessa Baird, John McIver, and Chick Judd
B.A., Political Science: New College, Sarasota, FL, 1999
I examine the public's stated preferences about the mode of representation congressional representatives should provide. I also use experimental designs to assess the consequences of these preferences. The evidence I present demonstrates that, like normative and empirical scholars, the public is conflicted about how the representation relationship should work. This said, the experimental evidence I present shows that people are more inclined to reward some modes of representation than others. I also find that, in some situations, policy preferences substantially affect how people resolve their conflicting feelings about which mode of representation is best. The findings offer new insight into how the public thinks about the representation relationship and the potential electoral consequences of a legislator prioritizing one mode of representation over another.
We report findings from a survey experiment where participants responded to a story about the FBI arresting an individual who posted an speech to YouTube that sharply criticized U.S. foreign policy. We measure respondents' support for protecting the speech, as well as how respondents interpreted the intentions of the speaker and likely consequences of the speech. We find clear evidence that, holding the content of a speech constant, authorities can affect how people interpret and respond to a speech by simply labeling it as "encouraging terrorism." We also find that the apparent ethnicity of the speaker affects how people respond to and interpret the speech. The magnitude of each of these classes of effects are comparable to those associated with whether the speech contained an explicit call to violence. The findings raise troubling questions about the intersection between elite rhetoric, ethnicity, and civil liberties in the contemporary United States.
What do people in the Arab world have in mind when they voice support for "democracy" and what shapes these conceptions of democracy? The answer to this question is likely to have important implications for the prospects of establishing lasting democratic institutions in this region. The evidence we report here demonstrates that while some in this region prioritize rules and procedures like elections and free speech in their conceptions of democracy, many see the substantive outcomes democracy might produce as more essential. We find that individual-level characteristics associated with the likelihood that a person is exposed to procedural conceptions of democracy, as well as factors that may lead individuals to see reduction in poverty and inequality as particularly desirable explain variation in how people in this region think about democracy. These findings offer insight into the policies that may encourage citizen appreciation of and commitment to democratic institutions.
The Tunisian Revolution led to the ouster of an authoritarian regime and a nascent democracy. We leverage data from two surveys conducted in the wake of the Tunisian Revolution and a number of analytical approaches to examine whether participants in the revolution were motivated by a desire for democratic reforms. Our findings point to a striking conclusion: although this was the first revolution ever to yield a successful democratic transition in the Arab world, we find virtually no evidence that participation was driven by a hunger for democracy. Overall, this extraordinary event does not appear to have been the product of unusual patterns of participation. Instead, participants in the revolution were distinguished by their ability to bear the costs of protesting and---as indicated by our analysis of the previously untested relationships between direct and indirect social factors and participation---exposure to social signals that encouraged participation.
We use variation produced by the Electoral College—the creation of battleground and non battleground states—to examine explanations for why people vote. We employ a longer time series (1980-2008) than previous research to gauge the effect of battleground status on state-level turnout. Our model includes (1) midterm elections, allowing us to directly compare the effect of battleground status with the broader increase in turnout associated with presidential elections, and (2) state fixed effects, which capture persistent state-level factors related to turnout. We find that the turnout boost from a presidential election is eight times the effect of being a battleground state. This suggests turnout is primarily linked to factors affecting the entire electorate, such as the social importance of presidential elections, rather than factors that influence just a portion of the country, such as intensive campaigning and mobilization efforts or a greater chance of casting a decisive vote.
The legitimacy of democratic election results rests on the perceived fairness of the rules and procedures for voting. New democracies, for example, go to great length to install democratic institutions, while one of the hallmarks of long-standing democracies is strong institutions protecting the electoral process. In this paper, we argue that beliefs about these democratic institutions, and not just their existence, are of central importance to legitimate elections. We show that even in the United States doubts about democratic institutions are surprisingly prevalent: We find that 36 percent of respondents to a nationally representative survey hold doubts that the choices they make on their ballots remain anonymous. We also present evidence that polling place voters experience a variety of situations that might violate the privacy of their voting process. Concerns about the anonymity of the ballot are greater among those who have not previously voted and for those voting with electronic machines and by mail. These findings suggest an important divergence between public perceptions about the secret ballot and the institutional status of the secret ballot in the United States, a divergence that may have important consequences. More broadly, this evidence suggests that individual beliefs should not be ignored when considering the effects and operation of political institutions.
Awards and Fellowships
LUC Summer Research Stipend: "The Public's Concept of Representation."
Bonjean Award (Southwestern Social Sciences Association): "Pushing 'Reset': The Conditional Effects of Coaching
Replacements on College Football Performance."
LUC Summer Research Stipend: "Public Responses to Negative Political Information."
LUC Summer Research Stipend: "Public Preferences about the Representation Relationship."
National Science Foundation Grant: "Social and Psychological Dimensions of Ballot Secrecy" (PIs: Alan Gerber and Gregory A. Huber)
Time-sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences (TESS) grant: "Who Do People Think Representatives Should Respond To: Their Constituents or the Country?"
Center to Advance Research and Teaching in the Social Sciences (CARTSS) Scholars grant: "Deciding What is Fair" (Co-PI: Jennifer Wolak)
Alumni Teaching Fellowship, New College (Sarasota, FL)