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Thank you for visiting my website. I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Florida State University


My research and teaching interests center on comparative democratic institutions of modern Latin America. My published and ongoing work considers the institutional architecture of all modern democracies, including elections, executives, legislatures and courts, and has been published in the American Journal of Political Science, The Journal of Law and Courts, Political Research Quarterly, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Electoral Studies, Judicature, European Political Science Review, American Politics Research, Politics & Gender, Revista de Ciencia Política and Política y Gobierno, and has been funded by the National Science Foundation


I received my Ph.D. from the Department of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis. As a Ph.D student at Washington University in St. Louis, I was a Graduate Research Associate in the Center for Empirical Research in the Law and a member of the Democratic Institutions Research Team. Prior to attending graduate school, I received my B.A. in Spanish and Latin American Studies at Gonzaga University

 

CV

A pdf copy is available here. My Google Scholar profile is available here.



 

PROJECTS

We seek to systematically investigate the public's support for norms that have long buttressed the democratic architecture of majority rule in countries around the world.


This research is funded by the National Science Foundation, SES-1920977, SES-1920915 & SES-2025927.

The undifferentiating effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) deliver an exogenous shock to the health and safety of citizens worldwide, providing a unique, but fleeting, opportunity to examine the conditions under which public support for the rule of law might thrive, multiply, or wither on the vine.


This research is funded by the National Science Foundation, SES-2027653, SES-2027664, SES-2027671.

We debut the Presidential Speeches of the Americas (PSA) dataset and archive, which records the appearances and speeches made by 24 presidents across 18 pure presidential systems of the western hemisphere.

 

PUBLICATIONS

PREJUDICE, STRATEGIC DISCRIMINATION AND THE ELECTORAL CONNECTION: EVIDENCE FROM A PAIR OF FIELD EXPERIMENTS IN BRAZIL.(WITH GABRIEL CEPALUNI, FELICIANO DE SÁ GUIMARÃES AND PAOLO SPADA.) AMERICAN JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, 62(4):781-795. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

DOI.

  Can electoral incentives mitigate racial and class prejudices toward underrepresented groups? We use a pair of large-scale field experiments to investigate the responsiveness of Brazilian legislative candidates to information requests from fictitious voters before and after the 2010 legislative elections. Our panel study design allows us to examine how politicians' electoral incentives and prejudices jointly affect their responsiveness to voters with randomly assigned socioeconomic and partisan characteristics. Distinguishing between prejudiced and strategic discrimination in responsiveness, we find that socioeconomically privileged and competitive candidates are equally responsive to underrepresented voters in advance of the election, yet less responsive once in office.

`GOING PUBLIC’ IN COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE: PRESIDENTS’ PUBLIC APPEALS UNDER PURE PRESIDENTIALISM (WITH ALEXANDRA COCKERHAM AND JOAN V. JOSEPH), 2019. PRESIDENTIAL STUDIES QUARTERLY. DOI.

Though the notion of “going public” has its origins in U.S. presidency, we have little sense of how direct appeals to the public fit into the broader portfolio of presidential powers. We debut a new dataset that includes 24 different presidents from 18 different countries, and show that the frequency of presidents’ public appeals varies with both their partisan support in the legislature, and their status as a newcomer to the political system. In so doing, we situate presidents’ direct public appeals as an under appreciated source of executive influence in the study of comparative presidential systems.

Obdurate conventional wisdom suggests that the public support the U.S. Supreme Court enjoys is unique while widespread pessimism colors extant assessments of high courts' legitimacy throughout the Americas. Using data from
the AmericasBarometer, we show that not only is the U.S. Supreme Court not an anomaly, but the widespread assumption that Latin American courts are lacking in legitimacy is fundamentally wrong.

CHRONICLE OF AN ELECTION FORETOLD: THE 2017 BOLIVIAN JUDICIAL ELECTIONS (WITH MICHAEL J. NELSON), POLÍTICA Y GOBIERNO, 37(2):255-279. 

On December 3, 2017, Bolivian voters went to the polls to vote for their national judges. Bolivia is the only country in modern world history to use direct elections to select its judges, and the adoption and implementation of these elections has been highly contentious. We report on this election and contend that though formally compliant with the Bolivian Constitution, the MAS supermajority used its powers to limit the ability of the public to make its voice heard in an electorally meaningful way. Voters registered their discontent by spoiling more ballots than in any election in Bolivian history. Relying on original survey data as well as municipal level election returns, we demonstrate that candidates’ electoral fates in this election were tied more closely to their position on the ballot than their ascriptive characteristics or professional qualifications, while voters’ choices to cast spoiled votes seemed to be a way for them to voice their dissatisfaction with the broader MAS political project.

BOLIVIA’S DEMOCRACY IN TRANSITION: MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS IN 2016, 2017. REVISTA DE CIENCIA POLÍTICA, 37(2): 255-279.  DOI

  On February 21, 2016, an absolute majority of Bolivians (51.3%) voted against a constitutional revision that would clear the way for President Morales’ to assume a fourth term in office. Evaluating the municipal level change in pro-MAS vote share over previous elections, I find that the pro-government vote share declined most dramatically in traditional MAS electoral strongholds—in particular those with high concentration of mine workers or indigenous voters. This, along with numerous other challenges to the MAS institutional hegemony, begs larger questions about the future of the MAS as a political coalition, and about Bolivia’s “democracy in transition.”

JUDICIAL SELECTION AND THE DEMOCRATIZATION OF JUSTICE: LESSONS FROM THE BOLIVIAN JUDICIAL ELECTIONS, (WITH MICHAEL J. NELSON), 2015. JOURNAL OF LAW AND COURTS, 3(1):115-148.  DOI

  In 2011, Bolivia became the first modern country to directly elect national judges. Reformers heralded the adoption of judicial elections as a “democratization of justice,” by which institutional independence would be assured, public confidence in the judiciary might be expanded, and various maladies of the judicial system would find resolution. We evaluate the elections in light of these objectives. We show candidates were advantaged when voters shared their partisan and demographic traits, resulting in unprecedented diversity on the national courts. Also, public confidence in the judiciary increased among government supporters but declined overall. We offer preliminary reflections for would-be reformers.

IGNORANCE OR OPPOSITION? BLANK AND NULL VOTING IN LOW-INFORMATION, HIGHLY POLITICIZED ENVIRONMENTS (WITH MICHAEL J. NELSON), 2014. POLITICAL RESEARCH QUARTERLY, 67(3):547-561. DOI

In democracies around the world, voters often make the effort to go to the polls but then---by leaving their ballot blank or by spoiling it---effectively throw their vote away. Typically construed as anomalous or errant, we argue that blank and spoiled ballots are empirically differentiable and politically informative, gauging both political ignorance and opposition. We consider self-reported vote choice from a nationally representative survey following the 2011 Bolivian elections, in which 60% of votes cast were blank or deliberately spoiled. We estimate a multinomial logit to differentiate between these two phenomena, finding that both blank and null voting in this election were driven by political concerns, though null voting was more common among politically sophisticated individuals.

Judicial elections have been described as a “uniquely American” institution: by 1860, 21 of the 30 American states elected their judges and today the vast majority of judges in the United States must stand for election. With the adoption of its new constitution in 2009, Bolivia became the first country in the modern world to use judicial elections to select judges to courts with national jurisdiction. In this article, we compare the political circumstances under which judicial elections were adopted in the the United States and in Bolivia. In spite of vast differences in terms of time, institutional arrangements, political history and geographic location, we identify four similarities between the political circumstances and normative debates surrounding their adoption. Our comparative research design provides a contrast by which the general applicability of causal explanations advanced by U.S. scholars might be assessed in cases outside of the context in which they were developed. We argue that not only are judicial elections no longer a “uniquely American” institution, but the political circumstances that explain the adoption of judicial elections are also not unique.

ADJUDICATORY OVERSIGHT AND JUDICIAL DECISION MAKING IN EXECUTIVE BRANCH AGENCIES (WITH CHRISTINA L. BOYD), 2013. AMERICAN POLITICS RESEARCH, 41(4):569-598 DOI

Adjudications are an important, but understudied, means through which administrative agencies create policies that have a lasting impact. We argue that executive branch agency heads utilize their oversight of agency adjudications to
advance agency goals. Relying on an original dataset of adjudications appealed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's agency head's adjudication delegee, our empirical results indicate a substantial increase in the probability that the agency
head will reverse an administrative law judge (ALJ) when he receives the appeal of an anti-agency ALJ decision. However, the agency's adjudication oversight is conditional on political constraints, including partisanship differences between an agency and the litigated law and whether the case is being heard during a time of presidential transition. These results have clear implications for the use and effectiveness of agency adjudications as a political tool.

THE STRATEGIC USE OF LEGISLATIVE VOTING PROCEDURES (WITH BRIAN F. CRISP), 2012. LEGISLATIVE STUDIES QUARTERLY 37(1): 67-97. DOI

Legislative votes can be taken by roll call -- noting the position of each individual member -- or by some form of indication (sitting or standing, shouting yea or nay, etc.) -- noting only an aggregate outcome. Cameral rules define one method of voting as the standard operating procedure and how to invoke any alternative voting methods. We develop a series of hypotheses related to position-taking to explain why, when procedures would typically lead to a vote taken by indication, legislators choose to vote by roll call -- a means that makes it much easier for actors outside the chamber to observe the positions taken by individual legislators and partisan blocs. With data from Argentina and Mexico, we test these hypotheses regarding the strategic choice of vote procedures and their relationship to observed party unity.

 

WORKING PAPERS

THE MINIMAL COSTS OF COURT CURBING: EXPERIMENTAL EVIDENCE FROM THE UNITED STATES (WITH MICHAEL J. NELSON), 2020. WORKING PAPER.

Cannonical models of interbranch relations suggest that politicians attack courts at their own peril. When courts enjoy a store of diffuse support---so the logic goes---the public should punish incumbents who curb the judiciary. We call this widespread assumption into question. Drawing upon an experiment embedded in a survey of 2,500 Americans, we demonstrate that the public does punish, but also rewards politicians who attack the judiciary. Moreover, we demonstrate that institutional legitimacy does not have the shielding effect for courts so often assumed. The results have broad implications for our understanding of public support of democratic institutions, institutional legitimacy and interbranch relations.

CAN CONDITIONAL CASH TRANSFERS INTERRUPT THE CYCLE OF INTERGENERATIONAL POVERTY? LESSONS FROM A LARGE ADMINISTRATIVE DATA SET WITH GABRIEL CEPALUNI), 2020. WORKING PAPER.

We consider the full records of Brazil's Cadastro Único, a massive administrative dataset designed to identify possible beneficiaries for conditional cash transfer programs. We compare educational attainment of applicants and beneficiaries of Brazil's Bolsa Família program, and find that the adult children of beneficiaries outperform their parents in terms of educational outcomes, relative to their peers of non-beneficiary families. Next, we compare beneficiary children 16-17 years old who are Bolsa Família beneficiaries with their siblings who were above the age of 18 at the time of enrollment. We find that Bolsa Família has a larger impact on `treated' under-aged children than on their `untreated' siblings in terms of predicting parental outperformance.

 

TEACHING

Recognized for Excellence in Teaching by FSU's College of
Social Sciences and Public Policy 2020

I teach courses in Comparative Politics and Comparative Political Institutions. Here you fill find the course evaluations from some of my recent courses. Please contact me for working syllabi.

Comparative Political Institutions (UG), Spring 2020

Introduction to Comparative Politics (UG), Fall 2019

Latin American Politics (UG), Spring 2019

Comparative Prosem (G), Spring 2018

Comparative Institutions (G), Fall 2017,

Authoritarian Politics (G), Summer 2019

If you are a current student seeking information on syllabi or course materials, please see the course homepage on Canvas. 

 

CONFERENCE WITHIN A CONFERENCE, SOUTHERN POLITICAL SCIENCE ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEETING, JANUARY 10TH, 2020, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO

PANEL 1: COURTS IN CONTEXT ROUNDTABLE: PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR JUDICIAL INSTITUTIONS ACROSS THE GLOBE

Friday, January 10, 12:30 to 1:50pm, Hilton Caribe, Location TBD

Chair: Lee Walker, University of North Texas


Participants:

Amanda Driscoll, Florida State University

Michael J. Nelson, Pennsylvania State University

PANEL 2: COURTS IN CONTEXT: COURTS AND LITIGANTS

Friday, January 10, 3:30 to 4:50pm, Hilton Caribe, Location TBD

Chair: Amanda Driscoll, Florida State University


Presentations:

Coordinating and Coalescing: Investigating Information Sharing Between Briefs

Rachael Hinkle, University at Buffalo

Morgan Hazelton, Saint Louis University


The Politics of Federal Prosecution

Christina L. Boyd, University of Georgia

Michael Nelson, Pennsylvania State University

Ian Ostrander, Michigan State University

Ethan D. Boldt, University of Georgia


The Effect of Ideology and Disadvantage on Federal District Court Prisoner Petitions

Anna Gunderson, Louisiana State University


Discussants:

Alyx Mark, Wesleyan University

PANEL 3: COURTS IN CONTEXT: COURTS AND INCUMBENTS

Friday, January 10, 5:00 to 6:30pm, Hilton Caribe, Location TBD

Chair: Kirk Randazzo, University of South Carolina


Presentations:

All the Presidents’ Proposals: An Exploration of the Executive’s Court Agenda, 1790-2016

Alyx Mark, Wesleyan University

Michael Zilis, University of Kentucky


Does the Supreme Court 'Follow the Election Returns'? Unpacking Judicial Responsiveness to Public Opinion?

Logan Strother, Purdue University

Ben Johnson, Pennsylvania State University


The Minimal Costs of Court Curbing: Experimental Evidence from the United States

Amanda Driscoll, Florida State University

Michael Nelson, Pennsylvania State University


Reforming or Undermining the U.S. Supreme Court?

Lee Epstein, Washington University in St. Louis

James L. Gibson, Washington University in St. Louis

Michael Nelson, Pennsylvania State University


Discussants:

Rachael Hinkle, SUNY at Buffalo

Michael J. Nelson, Penn State University

Amanda Driscoll, Florida State University

CWC Invited Participants:

Miles T. Armaly, University of Mississippi

Sveinung Arneson, University of Bergen and Stanford University

Vanessa Baird, University of Colorado, Boulder

Christine Bird,  University of Texas, Austin

Bethany Blackstone, University of North Texas

Christina L. Boyd, University of Georgia

Adam E. Enders, University of Louisville

Meghan Leonard, Illinois State University

Pedro Magalhães, University of Lisbon

Reggie Sheehan, National Science Foundation

Jon Kare Skiple, Norweigan Research Center AS

 

PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS

CONFERENCE WITHIN A CONFERENCE, MIDWEST POLITICAL SCIENCE ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEETING, APRIL 5TH, 2019, CHICAGO, IL

PANEL 1: PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR AMERICAN JUDICIAL INSTITUTIONS

Friday, April 5, 8:00 to 9:30am, Palmer House Hilton, Price

Chair: James Gibson, Washington University in St. Louis


Presentations:

Supreme Court Polarization, Public Judgements of Judicial Authority, and Implications for Institutional Legitimacy

Brandon L. Bartels, George Washington University


When is Knowing, Loving?: Justice Visibility and Public Support for the U.S. Supreme Court

Sara C. Benesh, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Sky Ammann, Northwestern Mutual

Wendy L. Martinek, SUNY at Binghamton


The Costs and Benefits to Court Curbing: Experimental Evidence from the United States (Follow Up Memo)

Amanda Driscoll, Florida State University

Michael J. Nelson, Pennsylvania State University


Judges’ Attributes and Public Support for Court Decisions

Yoshikuni Ono, Tohoku University

Michael Zilis, University of Kentucky


Discussants:

James Gibson, Washington University in St. Louis

Susanne Schorpp, Georgia State University

PANEL 2: PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR COMPARATIVE JUDICIAL INSTITUTIONS

Friday, April 5, 9:45 to 11:15am, Palmer House Hilton, Price

Chair: William Mishler


Presentations:
Public Trust in the European Legal Systems: Independence, Accountability and Awareness

Nuno Garoupa, George Mason University Scalia School of Law

Pedro Coutinho Magalhães, Institute of Social Sciences-University of Lisbon


From Cooperation to Consensus: Public Intolerance of Government Non-Compliance

Amanda Driscoll, Florida State University

Susanne Schorpp, Georgia State University


Public Reactions to Non-Compliance with Judicial Orders

Ryan Carlin, Georgia State University

Mariana Castrellón Pérez, Stanford University

Varun Gauri, The World Bank

Isabel Cristina Jaramillo Sierra, Universidad de los Andes

Jeffrey K. Staton, Emory University


Information and the Effective Exercise of Constitutional Review by Institutionally Weak Courts: Evidence from the Slovakian Constitutional Court

Jay Krehbiel, West Virginia University


Discussants:

Michael J. Nelson, Pennsylvania State University

PANEL 3: PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS

Friday, April 5, 1:15 to 2:45pm, Palmer House Hilton, Price

Chair: Dino Christenson, Boston University


Power, Forbearance, and the Presidency: Americans’ Attitudes toward Executive Authority

Andrew Reeves, Washington University in St Louis

Jon Rogowski, Harvard University


Country Before Party? A Conjoint Experiment of Voters Commitment To Democracy in the United States

Gretchen Helmke, Brightline Watch


Democracy in America? Partisanship, Polarization and Robustness of Support for Democracy in the United States

Matthew Graham and Milan W. Svolik


Institutional Trust, Democratic Values, and Public (In)tolerance of Norms Violations

Amanda Driscoll, Florida State University

Michael J. Nelson, Pennsylvania State University

Marielena Dias, Florida State University


Discussants:

Pedro Coutinho Magalhães, University of Lisbon

PANEL 4: AUTHORS MEET CRITICS: GIBSON & NELSON’S BLACK & BLUE

Friday, April 5, 3:00 to 4:30pm, Palmer House Hilton, Price

Chair: Amanda Driscoll


Participants:

James Gibson, Washington University in St. Louis

Michael J. Nelson, Pennsylvania State University

Sara C. Benesh, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Michael Zilis, University of Kentucky

Christian Davenport, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor


Happy Hour at Remington’s, 5-7 PM

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

AMANDA DRISCOLL

Florida State University

Department of Political Science

531 Bellamy Building

Tallahassee, FL

32306

Email: adriscoll@fsu.edu

Fax: (850) 664-1378

 

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