"Electoral Rewards for Political Grandstanding"2023. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Members of Congress often use committee hearings as venues for political grandstanding. What we do not know is if members who engage in this behavior are electorally rewarded. Using a dataset of 12,820 House committee hearing transcripts from the 105th to 114th Congresses, I nd that an increase in a member's grandstanding tendency in a given Congress leads to an increased vote share in the following election. The effect is stronger when voters are potentially more exposed to grandstanding. To further investigate the causal path, I test mechanisms through which voters reward members' grandstanding e orts using the Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) panel survey data. The results show that the effect of grandstanding tends to work through persuading non-supporters rather than mobilizing turnout of supporters. An additional analysis shows that PAC donors and voters react differently to members' grandstanding behavior, providing members with incentives to represent these two groups differently.
"How Are Politicians Informed? Witnesses and Information Provision in Congress" with Pamela Ban and Hye Young You. 2022. American Political Science Review. How are politicians informed and who do politicians seek information from? The role of information has been at the center for research on legislative organizations but there is a lack of systematic empirical work on the information that Congress seeks to acquire and consider. To examine the information flow between Congress and external groups, we construct the most comprehensive dataset to date on 74,082 congressional committee hearings and 755,540 witnesses spanning 1960-2018. We show descriptive patterns of how witness composition varies across time and committee, and how different types of witnesses provide varying levels of analytical information. We develop theoretical expectations for why committees may invite different types of witnesses based on committee intent, inter-branch relations, and congressional capacity. Our empirical evidence shows how certain institutional conditions can affect how much committees turn to outsiders for information and from whom they seek information. “When Do Politicians Grandstand? Measuring Message Politics in Committee Hearings” 2021. Journal of Politics. While congressional committee members sometimes hold hearings to collect and transmit specialized information to the floor, they also use hearings as venues to send political messages by framing an issue or a party to the public which I refer to as “grandstanding.” However, we lack clear understanding of when they strategically engage in grandstanding. I argue that when committee members have limited legislative power they resort to making grandstanding speeches in hearings to please their target audience. Using 12,820 House committee hearing transcripts from the 105th to 114th Congresses and employing a crowd-sourced supervised learning method, I measure a “grandstanding score” for each statement that committee members make. Findings suggest that grandstanding efforts are made more commonly among minority members under a unified government, and non-chair members of powerful committees, and in committees with jurisdiction over policies that the president wields primary power, such as foreign affairs and national security.