Research

Archer, Allison M. N. and Cindy D. Kam. Forthcoming. “Modern Sexism in Modern Times: Public Opinion in the #MeToo Era.” Public Opinion Quarterly. [replication files]

Issues of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and gendered power imbalances have risen to prominence in the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the rise of the #MeToo movement.  This paper uses original panel and cross-sectional data to assess the degree to which levels of sexism have changed in response to current events, and finds very little change in levels of sexism from 2004 to 2018. The results also suggest that modern sexism significantly correlates with views undercutting the pervasiveness of sexual misconduct, purporting #MeToo has gone too far, and opposing mandatory workplace harassment training, among other beliefs. Overall, the evidence suggests modern sexism is firmly entrenched in the public mind and readily connected to public opinion in the wake of #MeToo.

Kam, Cindy D. and Allison M. N. Archer. Forthcoming. “Mobilizing and Demobilizing: Modern Sexism and Turnout in the #MeToo Era.” Public Opinion Quarterly.

Since the 2016 US presidential campaign and the rise of the #MeToo movement, issues of sexual assault and harassment have risen to prominence.  At the same time, these issues have also been understood and evaluated through the lens of partisanship.  The US Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh exemplified these dynamics by providing clear partisan and emotion-laden cues to citizens.  Given these events’ temporal proximity to the midterms, we argue the confirmation hearings not only amplified an ongoing conversation, but also heightened the effect of sexist predispositions on turnout.  Using a unique online survey with validated voter turnout in the 2018 midterms, we find that higher levels of modern sexism increased turnout among Republicans while lower levels of modern sexism increased turnout among Democrats.  In 2018, sexist predispositions triggered turnout in opposing ways across the aisle.

Archer, Allison M. N. 2020. “Attacking the Fourth Estate: The Nature and Effects of Political Leaders’ War with the Press.” In Leadership, Populism, and Resistance, edited by Kristin M.S. Bezio and George R. Goethals, 129-147. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

In the 2016 presidential election, verbal attacks on the press and threats of violence against journalists were commonplace during Trump’s campaign rallies. Since his election, critiques of the media have increasingly become a staple in political discourse; Trump even characterized the press as the “enemy of the American people.” Of course, this is not the first time that politicians have espoused attacks on the media as part of their political strategies. Political leaders often discredit the press as elitist, distrustful, and biased in an attempt to both spin the facts and align themselves with the “everyday” voter. In this chapter, I will examine the nature of press attacks by U.S. political leaders throughout history. Then, I will present original data that characterize the frequency of President Trump’s criticisms of the press on Twitter as well as common themes he employs. Finally, I will turn to social science research to help us better understand the effects of such media attacks on voters.

Archer, Allison M. N. 2018. “Political Advantage, Disadvantage, and the Demand for Partisan News.Journal of Politics 80(3): 845-859.

In this article, I argue that the national political environment can meaningfully affect variation in aggregate demand for partisan media. I focus on the relationship between the political context—namely, political advantage and disadvantage derived from elections—and media demand in the form of partisan newspaper circulations. Using a data set that characterizes the partisan slant of local newspapers and their circulation levels between 1932 and 2004, I find that when parties are electorally advantaged in presidential contests, demand for their affiliated newspapers decreases relative to demand for papers affiliated with disadvantaged parties. I uncover evidence of similar patterns in a case study of Florida newspapers, and I also compare the power of presidential versus congressional outcomes in shaping feelings of advantage and disadvantage. Taken together, these results provide evidence of a negative link between political advantage derived from presidential elections and the relative demand for partisan news.

Archer, Allison M. N. and Joshua D. Clinton. 2018. “Changing Owners, Changing Content: Does Who Owns the News Matter for the News? Political Communication 35(3): 353-370.

The press is essential for creating an informed citizenry, but its existence depends on attracting and maintaining an audience. It is unclear whether supply-side effects—including those dictated by the owners of the media—influence how the media cover politics, yet this question is essential given their abilities to set the agenda and frame issues that are covered. We examine how ownership influences media behavior by investigating the impact of Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in August 2007. We collect data on every front-page story and editorial for 27 months, and we compare the difference in political coverage between the New York Times (NYT) and WSJ using a difference-in-differences design. We show that the amount of political content in the opinion pages of the two papers were unchanged by the sale, but the WSJ’s front-page coverage of politics increased markedly relative to the NYT. Similar patterns emerge when comparing the WSJ’s content to USA Today and the Washington Post. Our finding highlights potential limits to journalists’ ability to fulfill their supposed watchdog role in democracies without interference from owners in the boardroom.

Kam, Cindy D., Allison M. N. Archer, and John G. Geer. 2017. “Courting the Women’s Vote: The Emotional, Cognitive, and Persuasive Effects of Gender-Based Appeals in Campaign Advertisements.” Political Behavior 39(1): 51-75. 

In this paper, we examine the ways in which citizens emotionally react to and cognitively process campaign advertisements that contain group-based appeals. Specifically, we focus on the emotional, cognitive, and persuasive effects of three campaign ads aired during the 2012 election campaign that contained explicit appeals to women voters. We analyze differences across women and men in their emotional responses to the ads, in their reports of the memorability of the ads, in their cognitive engagement with the ads, and in how persuasive the ads were for vote choice. In so doing, we add nuance to studies of gender and campaigns and contribute to the expanding literature on the impact of strategic campaign communications.