Research

Archer, Allison M. N. and Joshua P. Darr. Forthcoming. “Gubernatorial Elections Change Demand for Local Newspapers.” American Politics Research

How do partisans react when their candidate wins or loses a gubernatorial election? Previous work shows that when parties win presidential elections, demand for their affiliated local newspapers decreases relative to the losing party’s newspapers. However, it is unclear if this negative link extends beyond presidential races into state-level elections. To test this relationship, we analyze demand for partisan and non-partisan newspapers in Virginia and New Jersey—two states that hold off-cycle gubernatorial elections with no competition from federal elections—from 1933-2005. We find demand for local newspapers associated with the winning party declines after gubernatorial elections compared to demand for other newspapers. The results also shed light on whether (and which) winning partisans are disengaging completely or shifting their consumption to independent newspapers. Taken together, our study suggests that state-level elections significantly influence local newspaper consumption and adds valuable local context to our understanding of the political dynamics of news demand.

Kam, Cindy D. and Allison M. N. Archer. 2021. “Mobilizing and Demobilizing: Modern Sexism and Turnout in the #MeToo Era.Public Opinion Quarterly 85(1): 172-182.

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. and Cindy D. Kam. 2020. “Modern Sexism in Modern Times: Public Opinion in the #MeToo Era.Public Opinion Quarterly 84(4): 813-837. [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.

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.

Selected Working Papers

Archer, Allison M. N. and Cindy D. Kam. “She Is the Chair(man): Gender, Language, and Leadership.” Conditionally accepted, The Leadership Quarterly.

This article presents results from two complementary experiments that examine the effects of a potential obstacle to female leadership: gendered language in the form of masculine leadership titles.  In the first experiment (N=1,753), we utilize an unobtrusive writing task to find that a masculine title (“Chairman” vs. “Chair”) increases assumptions that a hypothetical leader is a man, even when the leader’s gender is left unspecified.  In the second experiment (N=1,000), we use a surprise recall task and a treatment that unambiguously communicates the leader’s gender to find that a masculine title increases the accuracy of leader recollection only when the leader is a man.  In both studies, we find no significant differences by gender of respondents in the effects of masculine language on reinforcing the link between masculinity and leadership.  Thus, implicitly sexist language as codified in masculine titles can reinforce stereotypes that tie masculinity to leadership and consequently, weaken the connection between women and leadership.

Archer, Allison M. N. and Scott Clifford. “Improving the Measurement of Hostile Sexism.” Revised and resubmitted.

In recent years, sexism has played an increasingly pivotal role in American politics, and scholarship examining the importance of gender attitudes for political behavior has surged. Researchers have largely relied on the hostile sexism scale to measure prejudice against women, and this scale seems particularly relevant to political science research. However, this scale measures attitudes with an agree-disagree response format, which has long been recognized as a source of substantial measurement error. In this paper, we introduce a revised version of the hostile sexism scale that instead relies on an item-specific question format. Across three studies, we show that the item-specific scale is strongly related to the agree-disagree scale, but that the item-specific version reduces problems with truncation and tends to improve discriminant and predictive validity. Given these advantages, we conclude by recommending that researchers adopt the item-specific hostile sexism scale.

Archer, Allison M. N. “Trump vs. Fox News: How Elite Press Attacks Reshape the Partisan Media Landscape.”

In recent years, the partisan media landscape has shifted: Fox News’s dominance has softened while more extreme outlets have emerged as viable alternatives. I argue that Donald Trump’s attacks on Fox played a key role in this process. Using an original content analysis of Trump’s tweets from 2017-2020, I find that Trump increasingly attacked Fox, a trend that correlates with decreases in Fox’s ratings. Two survey experiments further examine these effects, particularly to see how Republicans adjudicate between competing loyalties to their party leader and a popular partisan news outlet. I find Trump’s attacks significantly change partisans’ perceptions of Fox’s coverage and bias. Notably, Trump’s critiques of Fox and promotion of an extreme alternative undermine Republicans’ willingness to consume Fox relative to OANN. Taken together, the results highlight the strength of individuals’ loyalty to party leader over partisan-friendly media and suggest elite attacks have fueled increasing conservative media competition.