My research spans a variety of topics in American Politics, and is motivated by a desire to understand the interactions among mass political behavior, elite politics, policy choices, and political institutions in explaining outcomes. I draw on multiple methodologies, spanning field interviews, formal modeling, large-scale survey and administrative records analysis, and field-, lab-, and quasi-experiments.

Many of the links to outside journals require a subscription. If there is something you would like to read that you cannot access, contact me and I will send it to you.

Working Papers & Papers Under Review

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, Marc Meredith, Daniel R. Biggers, and David J. Hendry. 2015. "Does Incarceration Reduce Voting? Evidence about the Political Consequences of Spending Time in Prison from Pennsylvania and Connecticut."

Abstract: The rise in mass incarceration provides a growing impetus to understand the effect that interactions with the criminal justice system have on political participation. Although some states impose restrictions on voting by former felons, a large number of released prisoners who are legally eligible to vote nevertheless participate at very low rates. We use administrative data on voting and interactions with the criminal justice system from Pennsylvania and Connecticut to examine whether the association between incarceration and reduced voting is causal. Several strategies are employed to investigate the possibility that the observed strong negative correlation between incarceration and voting might result from differences across individuals that both lead to incarceration and low participation. We find that as this selection bias issue is addressed, the estimated effect of serving time in prison on voting falls dramatically and for some research designs vanishes entirely.

Links: (Download Paper: Local PDF)

Note: Portions of this paper previously circulated with the title "Felony status, Participation, and Political Reintegration."

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, Daniel R. Biggers, and David J. Hendry. 2015. "Can Political Participation Prevent Crime? Results from a Field Experiment about Citizenship, Participation, and Criminality."

Abstract: Democratic theory and prior empirical work support the view that political participation, by promoting social integration and pro-social attitudes, can reduce an individual’s propensity for anti-social behavior, such as committing a crime. Previous empirical investigations have been limited to observational research, which is vulnerable to bias if there are omitted factors that affect both the propensity to participate and the risk of criminality. We present results from a field experiment in which 552,525 subjects aged 18-20 were encouraged to register and vote. Consistent with previous observational findings, we first confirm that there is a negative association between participation and subsequent criminality. However, comparing the randomly formed treatment and control groups, we find that although the intervention increased participation, it did not produce any reduction in subsequent criminality. Our results thus suggest that while participation is correlated with criminality, encouraging registration and voting has no causal effect on subsequent criminal behavior.

Links: (Download Paper: Local PDF)

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, Daniel R. Biggers, and David J. Hendry. 2015. "Why Don’t People Vote in Primaries? Assessing Theoretical Explanations for Reduced Participation in Primary Elections"

Abstract: Primary election participation in the United States is consistently lower than general election turnout. Despite this well-documented voting gap, we know surprisingly little about the individual-level factors that explain why general election voters do or do not show up for primary contests. We provide some of the first insights into this question, using a new novel survey to examine three theoretical perspectives on participation never before applied to primary races. Compared to general elections, we find that for House primary elections sizable segments of the electorate consider the stakes lower and the costs of voting greater, feel less social pressure to turn out and hold exclusionary beliefs about who should participate, and are more willing to defer to those who know and care more about the contests. Multivariate analysis reveals that these attitudes explain validated primary election participation. The implications of these findings point to new directions for future research.

Links: (Download Paper: Local PDF)

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, Daniel R. Biggers, and David J. Hendry. 2015. "Self Interest, Beliefs, and Policy Opinions: Understanding the Economic Source of Immigration Policy Preferences "

Abstract: Research on how economic factors affect attitudes toward immigration often focuses on labor market effects, concluding that, because workers’ skill levels do not predict opposition to low- versus highly skilled immigration, economic self-interest does not shape policy attitudes. We conduct a new survey to measure beliefs about a range of economic, political, and cultural consequences of immigration. When economic self-interest is broadened to include concerns about the fiscal burdens created by immigration, beliefs about these economic effects strongly correlate with immigration attitudes and explain a significant share of the difference in support for highly versus low-skilled immigration. Our results suggest that previous work underestimates the importance of economic self-interest as a source of immigration policy preferences and attitudes more generally.

Links: (Download Paper: Local PDF)

Bullock, John G., Alan S. Gerber, Gregory A. Huber, and Seth J. Hill. 2013. "Partisan Bias in Factual Beliefs about Politics."

Abstract: Partisanship seems to affect factual beliefs about politics. For example, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say that the deficit rose during the Clinton administration; Democrats are more likely to say that inflation rose under Reagan. What remains unclear is whether such patterns reflect differing beliefs among partisans or instead reflect a desire to praise one party or criticize another. To shed light on this question, we develop a model of partisan survey response and report two experiments that are based on the model. The experiments show that small payments for correct and “don't know” responses sharply diminish the gap between Democrats and Republicans in responses to “partisan” factual questions. Our conclusion is that the apparent gulf in factual beliefs between members of different parties may be more illusory than real.

Links: (Download Paper: Local PDF, NBER)

Huber, Gregory A. and Neil Malhotra. 2013. "Dimensions of Political Homophily: Isolating Choice Homophily along Political Characteristics"

Abstract: How do political predispositions shape the social relationships individuals create? To address these issues, we leverage the domain of online dating, in which we can observe people’s political identities and preferences before they express a partner preference, which is important for distinguishing choice homophily from induced homophily and convergence. Further, we theoretically distinguish between two types of political homophily: preference-based homophily and engagement-based homophily. We first conducted an experiment in which we randomized political characteristics in online dating profiles presented to participants. To demonstrate external validity, we also analyzed behavioral data from a novel dataset gathered from a large, national online dating community. In both datasets, we observe that people find those with similar political beliefs more desirable and are more likely to “match” with them compared to people with discordant opinions. Additionally, people select relationship partners with whom they have a shared level of interest and engagement in politics. We therefore provide the first causal evidence that pre-match political characteristics produce political homophily and potentially political inequality. Our results have important implications for the literatures on social networks and politics, political polarization, homophily, social stratification and inequality, and others.

Links: (Download Paper: Local PDF) (On-Line Appendix)

Note: This paper previously circulated with the title "Political Sorting in Social Relationships."

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, David Doherty, Conor M. Dowling, and Seth Hill. 2012. "The Voting Experience and Beliefs about Ballot Secrecy."

Abstract: The legitimacy of democratic election results rests on the perceived fairness of the rules and procedures for voting. New democracies go to great length to foster electoral institutions, while one of the hallmarks of long-standing democracies is strong institutions protecting the electoral process. 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: 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. More broadly, this evidence suggests that individual beliefs should not be ignored when considering the effects and operation of political institutions.

Links: (Download Paper: Local PDF)

Published/Forthcoming Papers In Peer-Reviewed Journals

Anderson, Ashton, Sharad Goel, Gregory Huber, Neil Malhotra, and Duncan J. Watts. 2015. "Rejoinder to Lewis." Sociological Science, Vol. 2 (Jan.): 32-35.

Abstract: In a response to our article “Political Ideology and Racial Preferences in Online Dating,” Kevin Lewis (2015) has raised concerns about various aspects of our analysis of user behavior on a national online dating site. The core of Lewis’ critique is that we do not report specifics of the sample, the website, and the analysis. Lewis also details numerous smaller points with respect to details of the analysis. The goal of this response is not to reply to every point that Lewis makes. As with any research project, our design decisions require tradeoffs, and readers should evaluate the evidence on their own. Rather, we use this space to make broader points about the general value for sociology of research using online data and how such research should be practiced.

Links: (Download Paper: On-line Journal)

Note: This is a response to Lewis's comment, available here: http://www.sociologicalscience.com/download/volume-2/january/comment-rejoinder/SocSci_v2_20to31.pdf.

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, Marc Meredith, Daniel R. Biggers, and David J. Hendry. "Can Incarcerated Felons Be (Re)integrated into the Political System? Results from a Field Experiment." American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming.

Abstract: How does America’s high rate of incarceration shape political participation? Few studies have examined the direct effects of incarceration on patterns of political engagement. Answering this question is particularly relevant for the 93% of formerly incarcerated individuals who are eligible to vote. Drawing on new administrative data from Connecticut, we present evidence from a field experiment showing that a simple informational outreach campaign to released felons can recover a large proportion of the reduction in participation observed following incarceration. The treatment effect estimates imply that efforts to reintegrate released felons into the political process can substantially reduce the participatory consequences of incarceration.

Links: (Download Paper: On-line Journal)

Note: This paper previously circulated with the title "Felony status, Participation, and Political Reintegration: Results from a field experiment." Awarded the 2014 Best Paper on Public Policy Award by the APSA Public Policy Section.

Dynes, Adam and Gregory A. Huber. 2015. "Partisanship and the allocation of federal spending: Do same-party legislators or voters benefit from shared party affiliation?" American Political Science Review, Vol 109 (1 February): 172-186.

Abstract: Previous research finds House majority members and members in the president’s party garner additional federal spending in their districts. We present new evidence designed to distinguish elected officials enacting policies that benefit likeminded voters--the party in the electorate--from same-party elected officials--the party in government. Using federal spending data in individual districts, we implement two research designs to distinguish these theoretical accounts. We find robust evidence that presidential partisanship is associated with large differences in spending correlated with voter preferences, but little evidence that presidents advantage areas represented by their party in the House. By contrast, control of the House is associated with differences in spending by voter preferences and with modest increases in spending in districts held by members of the majority. These findings have important implications for understanding presidential influence, as well as the role of parties in the House and in coordinating between elected branches.

Links: (Download Paper: On-line Journal) (Replication Archive)

Note: Replication file is for final analysis dataset only. Complete replication archive, include raw FAADS data/etc. is available upon request due to large file sizes.

Dickson, Eric S., Sanford C. Gordon, and Gregory A. Huber. 2015. "Institutional Sources of Legitimate Authority: An Experimental Investigation." American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 59 (1 Jan.): 109-27.

Abstract: Unelected officials with coercive powers (e.g., police, prosecutors, bureaucrats) vary markedly in the extent to which citizens view their actions as legitimate. We explore the institutional determinants of legitimate authority in the context of a public goods laboratory experiment. In the experiment, an “authority” can target one “citizen” for punishment following citizen contribution choices. Untargeted citizens can then choose to help or hinder the authority. This latter choice may be interpreted as a behavioral measure of the authority's legitimacy. We find that legitimacy is affected by how authorities are compensated, the transparency with which their decisions are observed, and an interaction between these. When transparency is high, citizens are more willing to assist authorities who receive fixed salaries than those who personally benefit from collected penalties, even when citizens' material incentives are controlled for. Lower transparency reduces support, but only for salaried enforcers.

Links: (Download Paper: On-line Journal, Local PDF) (On-Line Appendix) (Replication Archive)

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, David Doherty, and Conor M. Dowling. "Why People Vote: Estimating the Social Returns to Voting." British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming.

Abstract: We present evidence that suggests that the social rewards to voting may help explain political participation decisions. A series of survey experiments shows that information about whether a person votes directly affects how favorably that person is viewed. Importantly, we also compare the rewards and sanctions associated with voting to other activities, including the decisions to recycle, volunteer, and return one’s library books on time. We also present a behavioral test of the consequences of non-voting and find that individuals are willing to take costly action in a dictator game to reward political participation. Finally, we show that survey measures of social norms about voting are correlated with county-level voter turnout. Our work adds to the growing literature documenting the important influence of social concerns on turnout and other political choices.

Links: (Download Paper: On-line Journal, Local PDF)

Note: This paper previously circulated with the titles "Social Judgments and Political Participation: Estimating the Consequences of Social Rewards and Sanctions for Voting" and "The Social Benefits of Voting and Co-partisanship: Evidence from Survey Experiments."

Anderson, Ashton, Sharad Goel, Gregory Huber, Neil Malhotra, and Duncan J. Watts. 2014. "Political Ideology and Racial Preferences in Online Dating." Sociological Science, Vol. 1 (Feb.): 28-40.

Abstract: What explains the relative persistence of racial homogamy in romantic relationships? One possibility is structural--these patterns reflect the fact that social interactions are already stratified along racial lines--while another attributes these patterns to individual-level preferences. We present novel evidence from an online dating community involving more than 250,000 people in the United States about the frequency with which individuals both express a preference for same-race romantic partners and act to choose same-race partners. Prior work suggests that political ideology is an important correlate of conservative attitudes about race in the United States, and we find that conservatives, including both men and women and Blacks and Whites, are much more likely than liberals to state a preference for same-race partners. Further, conservatives are not simply more selective in general; they are specifically selective with regard to race. Do these stated preferences predict real behaviors? In general, we find that stated preferences are a strong predictor of a behavioral preference for same-race partners, and that this pattern persists across ideological groups. At the same time, both men and women of all political persuasions act as if they prefer same-race relationships even when they claim not to. As a result, the gap between conservatives and liberals in revealed same-race preferences, while still substantial, is not as pronounced as their stated attitudes would suggest. We conclude by discussing some implications of our findings for the broader issues of racial homogamy and segregation.

Links: (Download Paper: On-line Journal)

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, Daniel R. Biggers, and David J. Hendry. 2014. "Ballot Secrecy Concerns and Voter Mobilization: New Experimental Evidence About Message Source, Context, and the Duration of Mobilization Effects." American Politics Research, Vol 42(5): 896-923.

Abstract: Recent research finds that doubts about the integrity of the secret ballot as an institution persist among the American public. We build on this finding by providing novel field experimental evidence about how information about ballot secrecy protections can increase turnout among registered voters who had not previously voted. First, we show that a private group’s mailing designed to address secrecy concerns modestly increased turnout in the highly contested 2012 Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election. Second, we exploit this and an earlier field experiment conducted in Connecticut during the 2010 congressional midterm election season to identify the persistent effects of such messages from both governmental and non-governmental sources. Together, these results provide new evidence about how message source and campaign context affect efforts to mobilize previous non-voters by addressing secrecy concerns, as well as show that attempting to address these beliefs increases long term participation.

Links: (Download Paper: On-line Journal, Local PDF) (Replication Archive)

Hacker, Jacob S., Gregory A. Huber, Austin Nichols, Philipp Rehm, Mark Schlesinger, Rob Valletta, and Stuart Craig. 2014. "The Economic Security Index: A New Measure for Research and Policy Analysis." Review of Income and Wealth, Vol. 60 (May): S5-S32.

Abstract: This article presents the Economic Security Index (ESI), a new measure of economic insecurity. The ESI assesses the individual-level occurrence of substantial year-to-year declines in available household resources, accounting for fluctuations not only in income but also in out-of-pocket medical expenses. It also assesses whether those experiencing such declines have sufficient liquid financial wealth to buffer against these shocks. We find that insecurity--the share of individuals experiencing substantial resource declines without adequate financial buffers--has risen steadily since the mid-1980s for virtually all subgroups of Americans, albeit with cyclical fluctuation. At the same time, we find that there is substantial disparity in the degree to which different subgroups are exposed to economic risk. As the ESI derives from a data-independent conceptual foundation, it can be measured using different panel datasets. We find that the degree and disparity by which insecurity has risen is robust across the best available sources.

Links: (Download Paper: On-line Journal, Local PDF)

Huber, Gregory A. and Celia Paris. 2013. "Assessing the Programmatic Equivalence Assumption In Question Wording Experiments: Understanding Why Americans like Assistance to the Poor more than Welfare." Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol 77 (1): 385-397.

Abstract: In trying to understand why Americans display relatively high levels of opposition to welfare, analysts have frequently turned to the analysis of a canonical experiment reported in this journal (Smith 1987, Rasinski 1989) in which subjects were asked about their support for either “Welfare” or “Assistance to the poor.” This experiment consistently shows that Americans are substantially less supportive of welfare than assistance to the poor. This difference has been interpreted as evidence that simply describing the same core programs as welfare rather than assistance to the poor depresses support (Bartels 2003; Smith 1987; Will 1993). The key assumption in these analyses is one of programmatic equivalence: relative to the words “assistance to the poor,” the word “welfare” describes the same programs, but differs in which considerations it brings to mind. This research note examines the validity of this key assumption. Analysis of novel experimental data show there appear to be basic differences in which programs Americans consider to be welfare and which they consider to be assistance to the poor. We discuss the implications of our research for interpreting prior studies that rely upon this experiment to test theories of framing, and we suggest broader implications for survey experimental designs.

Links: (Download Paper: On-line Journal, Local PDF) (Replication Archive)

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, David Doherty, Conor M. Dowling, and Seth Hill. 2013. "Who Wants to Discuss Vote Choices with Others? Polarization in Preferences for Deliberation." Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 77 (2): 474-496.

Abstract: Should people discuss their vote choices with others? On one hand, many people argue that openly deliberating with others can lead to better decision-making. On the other hand, institutions like the secret ballot imply that keeping these choices secret has value, perhaps as a means of insulating people from unwanted social pressures. This paper examines public attitudes about whether it is best to discuss one’s choices with others or treat them as personal matters. We find that the American public is evenly divided on this issue. We also find that those who are least confident in their political capabilities--those who arguably could benefit most from deliberating their vote choices--are most likely to say that choices should be treated as personal matters. Our findings have implications for understanding the role of political deliberation in the United States.

Links: (Download Paper: On-line Journal, Local PDF) (On-Line Appendix) (Replication Archive)

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, David Doherty, and Conor M. Dowling. 2013. "Assessing the Stability of Psychological and Political Survey Measures." American Politics Research Vol 41: 54-75.

Abstract: Recent research demonstrates growing scholarly interest in the relationship between personality characteristics and political attitudes and behaviors. In this article we present analysis using data from a national panel survey conducted in two waves--the first prior to the 2010 U.S. midterm election, the second after it. We assess the stability of a variety of personality measures and find high correlations between the pre- and postelection measures. We also leverage the fact that Republicans made substantial gains in Congress in the 2010 election to determine whether various personality measures are affected by the intersection of partisan attachments and political events and find little evidence that they are. The findings provide encouraging evidence for those interested in examining the relationship between personality and political attitudes using survey data.

Links: (Download Paper: On-line Journal) (Replication Archive)

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, David Doherty, Conor M. Dowling, and Seth J. Hill. 2013. "Do Perceptions of Ballot Secrecy Influence Turnout? Results from a Field Experiment." American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 57 (3 July): 537-51.

Abstract: Although the secret ballot has been secured as a legal matter in the United States, formal secrecy protections are not equivalent to convincing citizens that they may vote privately and without fear of reprisal. We present survey evidence that those who have not previously voted are particularly likely to voice doubts about the secrecy of the voting process. We then report results from a field experiment where we mailed information about protections of ballot secrecy to registered voters prior to the 2010 general election. Consistent with our survey data, we find that these letters increased turnout for registered citizens without records of previous turnout, but did not appear to influence the behavior of citizens who had previously voted. The increase in turnout of more than three percentage points for those without previous records of voting is notably larger than the effect of a standard get-out-the-vote mailing for this group. Overall, these results suggest that although the secret ballot is a long-standing institution in the United States, beliefs about this institution may not match the legal reality and that providing basic information about ballot secrecy can affect the decision to participate to an important degree.

Links: (Download Paper: JSTOR, On-line Journal) (Replication Archive)

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, David Doherty, Conor M. Dowling, and Costas Panagopoulos. 2013. "Big Five Personality Traits and Responses to Persuasive Appeals: Results from Voter Turnout Experiments." Political Behavior, Vol. 35 (4 Dec.): 687-728.

Abstract: We examine whether differences in scores on Big Five personality traits are associated with heterogeneous responses to commonly used Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) appeals in both a survey and a field experiment. The results suggest that Big Five personality traits affect how people respond to the costs and benefits of voting highlighted in particular GOTV appeals. Our evidence also suggests that one trait--Openness--is associated with broad persausibility. In some cases the conditioning effects of Big Five traits are substantial. For example, in the one voter households included in our field experiment, we find that a mailer that raised the specter of social sanctions increased the likelihood of voting by only 1 percentage point among those low on Openness, but increased turnout by over 20 percentage points among scoring high on this trait. The findings constitute an important step forward in understanding how core personality traits shape responses to various aspects of the act of voting.

Links: (Download Paper: On-line Journal, Local PDF) (Replication Archive)

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, and Seth J. Hill. 2013. "Identifying the Effect of All-Mail Elections on Turnout: Staggered Reform in the Evergreen State." Political Science Research and Methods, Vol. 1 (1 June): 91-116.

Abstract: Election officials across the United States continue to implement convenience voting reforms that increase the times when, and modes by which, citizens may cast ballots. These reforms are thought to increase participation. Some argue that convenience voting increases inequality in political participation because the reforms alleviate barriers to participation for busy higher status citizens while lowering mobilization activity. In this article, we offer an improved design and new estimates of the effects of convenience voting on turnout. Exploiting cross-sectional and temporal variation in county-level implementation of all-mail elections in Washington State, we find a modest two to four point effect of the reform on turnout and some evidence that the effect begins to decay as time passes. Using individual observations from the state voter file, we also find that the reform increases voting by lower-participating registrants and young registrants, suggesting that this convenience reform does improve participation for the less-engaged.

Links: (Download Paper: On-line Journal, Local PDF) (Replication Archive)

Note: Earlier versions of this paper circulated with the title "Identifying the Effects of Elections Held All-Mail on Turnout: Staggered Reform in the Evergreen State."

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, David Doherty, and Conor M. Dowling. 2013. "Is There a Secret Ballot? Ballot Secrecy Perceptions and Their Implications for Voting Behaviour." British Journal of Political Science, Vol. 43 (1 Jan.): 77-102.

Abstract: Do people believe the votes they cast are truly secret? Novel items added to a nationally representative survey show that 25 per cent of respondents report not believing their ballot choices are kept secret and over 70 per cent report sharing their vote choices with others. These findings suggest that standard models of candidate choice should account for the potential effects of doubts about ballot secrecy. Consistent with this view, regression analysis shows that social forces appear to have a greater effect on vote choices among people who doubt the formal secrecy of the ballot. This analysis supports the broader claim that the intended benefits of institutional rules may not be realized if people’s perceptions of these rules differ from their formal characteristics.

Links: (Download Paper: JSTOR, On-line Journal) (Replication Archive)

Note: Earlier versions of this paper circulated with the word "Behaviour" in the title spelled "Behavior."

Gregory A. Huber, Seth J. Hill, and Gabriel S. Lenz. 2012. "Sources of Bias in Retrospective Decision-Making: Experimental Evidence on Voters’ Limitations in Controlling Incumbents." American Political Science Review, Vol. 106 (4 November): 720-41.

Abstract: Are citizens competent to assess the performance of incumbent politicians? Observational studies cast doubt on voter competence by documenting several biases in retrospective assessments of performance. However, these studies are open to alternative interpretations because of the complexity of the real world. In this article, we show that these biases in retrospective evaluations occur even in the simplified setting of experimental games. In three experiments, our participants (1) overweighted recent relative to overall incumbent performance when made aware of an election closer rather than more distant from that event, (2) allowed an unrelated lottery that affected their welfare to influence their choices, and (3) were influenced by rhetoric to give more weight to recent rather than overall incumbent performance. These biases were apparent even though we informed and incentivized respondents to weight all performance equally. Our findings suggest key limitations in voters’ abilities to effectively implement a retrospective decision rule.

Links: (Download Paper: On-line Journal, On-line Journal 2) (On-Line Appendix) (Replication Archive)

Berinsky, Adam J. Gregory A. Huber, and Gabriel S. Lenz. 2012. "Evaluating Online Labor Markets for Experimental Research: Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk." Political Analysis, Vol. 20, (3 Summer): 351-368.

Abstract: We examine the trade-offs associated with using Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) interface for subject recruitment. We first describe MTurk and its promise as a vehicle for performing low-cost and easy-to-field experiments. We then assess the internal and external validity of experiments performed using MTurk, employing a framework that can be used to evaluate other subject pools. We first investigate the characteristics of samples drawn from the MTurk population. We show that respondents recruited in this manner are often more representative of the U.S. population than in-person convenience samples--the modal sample in published experimental political science--but less representative than subjects in Internet-based panels or national probability samples. Finally, we replicate important published experimental work using MTurk samples.

Links: (Download Paper: JSTOR, On-line Journal) (On-Line Appendix) (Replication Archive)

Note: Earlier versions of this paper circulated with the title "Using Mechanical Turk as a Subject Recruitment Tool for Experimental Research"

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, David Doherty, and Conor M. Dowling. 2012. "Disagreement and the Avoidance of Political Discussion: Aggregate Relationships and Differences across Personality Traits" American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 56 (4 Oct.): 849-74.

Abstract: Social networks play a prominent role in the explanation of many political phenomena. Using data from a nationally representative survey of registered voters conducted around the 2008 U.S. presidential election, we document three findings. First, we show that during this period, people discussed politics as frequently as (or more frequently than) other topics such as family, work, sports, and entertainment with frequent discussion partners. Second, the frequency with which a topic is discussed is strongly and positively associated with reported agreement on that topic among these same discussion partners. Supplementary experimental evidence suggests this correlation arises because people avoid discussing politics when they anticipate disagreement. Third, we show that Big Five personality traits affect how frequently people discuss a variety of topics, including politics. Some of these traits also alter the relationship between agreement and frequency of discussion in theoretically expected ways. This suggests that certain personality types are more likely to be exposed to divergent political information, and that not everyone is equally likely to experience cross-cutting discourse, even in heterogeneous networks.

Links: (Download Paper: JSTOR, On-line Journal) (On-Line Appendix) (Replication Archive)

Note: Earlier versions of this paper circulated with the title "Personality Traits, Disagreement, and the Avoidance of Political Discussion: Putting Political Discussion Networks in Context"

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, David Doherty, and Conor M. Dowling. 2012. "Personality and the Strength and Direction of Partisan Identification." Political Behavior 34 (4 November): 653-688.

Abstract: We examine the associations between personality traits and the strength and direction of partisan identification using a large national sample. We theorize that the relationships between Big Five personality traits and which party a person affiliates with should mirror those between the Big Five and ideology, which we find to be the case. This suggests that the associations between the Big Five and the direction of partisan identification are largely mediated by ideology. Our more novel finding is that personality traits substantially affect whether individuals affiliate with any party as well as the strength of those affiliations, effects that we theorize stem from affective and cognitive benefits of affiliation. In particular, we find that three personality traits (Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Openness) predict strength of partisan identification (p < 0.05). This result holds even after controlling for ideology and a variety of issue positions. These findings contribute to our understanding of the psychological antecedents of partisan identification.

Links: (Download Paper: JSTOR, On-line Journal) (Replication Archive)

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, David Doherty, and Conor M. Dowling. 2011. "Citizens' Policy Confidence and Electoral Punishment: A Neglected Dimension of Electoral Accountability." The Journal of Politics, 73 (4 Oct.): 1206-1224.

Abstract: If voters punish elected officials who adopt incongruent policy positions, then representatives should take popular positions to avoid electoral sanction. Yet, scholars have noted gaps between citizen preferences and the behavior of elected officials. We argue that one important source of this gap is that individual citizens believe they are sometimes not well qualified to evaluate policy. Our analysis of a series of experiments shows that citizens’ stated confidence in their own ability to evaluate a policy proposal substantially affects their willingness to reward or punish a representative for their votes on that policy. Our results hold both across individuals (within policy areas) and within individuals (across policy areas) and suggest that, rather than a failure of representation, gaps between citizen preferences and policy may reflect citizen deference to “expert” legislators. We also show that understanding differences in policy confidence has important implications for understanding the contours of public opinion.

Links: (Download Paper: JSTOR, On-line Journal) (Replication Archive)

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, David Doherty, Conor M. Dowling, Connor Raso, and Shang E. Ha. 2011. "Personality Traits and Participation in Political Processes." The Journal of Politics 74 (3 July): 692-706.

Abstract: Using data from two recent surveys, we analyze the relationship between Big Five personality traits and political participation. We examine forms of participation that differ in domain (local politics vs. national campaigns) as well as in the amount of conflict involved, whether they are likely to yield instrumental benefits, and whether they are likely to be viewed as a duty--characteristics that may affect the relationships between dispositional personality traits and political activity. We find relationships between personality traits and: (1) both self-reported and actual turnout (measured using administrative records), (2) overreporting of turnout, and (3) a variety of other modes of participation. The effect of personality on political participation is often comparable to the effects of factors that are central in earlier models of turnout, such as education and income. Consistent with our theoretical expectations, these relationships vary depending on personality-relevant characteristics of each participatory act.

Links: (Download Paper: JSTOR, On-line Journal) (On-Line Appendix) (Replication Archive)

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, David Doherty, and Conor M. Dowling. 2011. "Personality Traits and the Consumption of Political Information." American Politics Research 39 (1 January): 32-84.

Abstract: In this article, we examine the relationship between dispositional personality traits (the Big Five) and the consumption of political information. We present detailed hypotheses about the characteristics of the political environment that are likely to affect the appeal of politics and political information in general for individuals with different personalities as well as hypotheses about how personality affects the attractiveness of particular sources of political information. We find that the Big Five traits are significant predictors of political interest and knowledge as well as consumption of different types of political media. Openness (the degree to which a person needs intellectual stimulation and variety) and Emotional Stability (characterized by low levels of anxiety) are associated with a broad range of engagement with political information and political knowledge. The other three Big Five traits, Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, and Extraversion, are associated only with consumption of specific types of political information.

Links: (Download Paper: On-line Journal) (Replication Archive)

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, Ebonya Washington. 2010. "Party Affiliation, Partisanship, and Political Beliefs: A Field Experiment." American Political Science Review 104 (4 November): 720-744.

Abstract: Partisanship is strongly correlated with attitudes and behavior, but it is unclear from this pattern whether partisan identity has a causal effect on political behavior and attitudes. We report the results of a field experiment that investigates the causal effect of party identification. Prior to the February 2008 Connecticut presidential primary, researchers sent a mailing to a random sample of unaffiliated registered voters who, in a pretreatment survey, leaned toward a political party. The mailing informed the subjects that only voters registered with a party were able to participate in the upcoming presidential primary. Subjects were surveyed again in June 2008. Comparing posttreatment survey responses to subjects’ baseline survey responses, we find that those reminded of the need to register with a party were more likely to identify with a party and showed stronger partisanship. Further, we find that the treatment group also demonstrated greater concordance than the control group between their pretreatment latent partisanship and their posttreatment reported voting behavior and intentions and evaluations of partisan figures. Thus, our treatment, which appears to have caused a strengthening of partisan identity, also appears to have caused a shift in subjects’ candidate preferences and evaluations of salient political figures. This finding is consistent with the claim that partisanship is an active force changing how citizens behave in and perceive the political world.

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Note: This paper previously circulated as NBER Working paper #15365. http://www.nber.org/papers/w15365

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, David Doherty, Conor M. Dowling, and Shang E. Ha. 2010. "Personality and Political Attitudes: Relationships Across Issue Domains and Political Contexts." American Political Science Review 104 (1 February): 111-133.

Abstract: Previous research on personality traits and political attitudes has largely focused on the direct relationships between traits and ideological self-placement. There are theoretical reasons, however, to suspect that the relationships between personality traits and political attitudes (1) vary across issue domains and (2) depend on contextual factors that affect the meaning of political stimuli. In this study, we provide an explicit theoretical framework for formulating hypotheses about these differential effects. We then leverage the power of an unusually large national survey of registered voters to examine how the relationships between Big Five personality traits and political attitudes differ across issue domains and social contexts (as defined by racial groups). We confirm some important previous findings regarding personality and political ideology, find clear evidence that Big Five traits affect economic and social attitudes differently, show that the effect of Big Five traits is often as large as that of education or income in predicting ideology, and demonstrate that the relationships between Big Five traits and ideology vary substantially between white and black respondents.

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Note: This paper includes results that were originally presented in two separate papers: Personality Traits and the Dimensions of Political Ideology and Reassessing the Effects of Personality on Political Attitudes and Behaviors: Aggregate Relationships and Subgroup Differences.

Gerber, Alan S. and Gregory A. Huber. 2010. "Partisanship, Political Control, and Economic Assessments." American Journal of Political Science 54 (1 January): 153-73.

Abstract: Previous research shows that partisans rate the economy more favorably when their party holds power. There are several explanations for this association, including use of different evaluative criteria, selective perception, selective exposure to information, correlations between economic experiences and partisanship, and partisan bias in survey responses. We use a panel survey around the November 2006 election to measure changes in economic expectations and behavioral intentions after an unanticipated shift in political power. Using this design, we can observe whether the association between partisanship and economic assessments holds when some leading mechanisms thought to bring it about are excluded. We find that there are large and statistically significant partisan differences in how economic assessments and behavioral intentions are revised immediately following the Democratic takeover of Congress. We conclude that this pattern of partisan response suggests partisan differences in perceptions of the economic competence of the parties, rather than alternative mechanisms.

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Note: Earlier versions of this paper circulated with the subtitle "Results from a natural experiment."

Dickson, Eric S., Sanford C. Gordon, and Gregory A. Huber. 2009. "Enforcement and Compliance in an Uncertain World: An Experimental Investigation." The Journal of Politics 71 (4 October): 1357-1378.

Abstract: Governments are charged with monitoring citizens’ compliance with prescribed behavioral standards and punishing noncompliance. Flaws in information available to enforcing agents, however, may lead to subsequent enforcement errors, eroding government authority and undermining incentives for compliance. We explore these concepts in a laboratory experiment. A “monitor” player makes punishment decisions after receiving noisy signals about other players’ choices to contribute to a public good. We find that the possibility of wrongly accusatory signals has a more deleterious effect on contribution levels than the possibility of wrongly exculpatory signals. We trace this across-treatment difference to a “false positives trap”: when members of a largely compliant population are sometimes incorrectly accused, some will be unjustly punished if enforcement power is employed, but non-compliant individuals will escape punishment if that power is abdicated. Either kind of error discourages compliance. An additional treatment demonstrates that the functioning of a given enforcement institution may vary, depending on its origins. We consider implications of our findings for theories of deterrence, fairness, and institutional legitimacy.

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Gerber, Alan S. and Gregory A. Huber. 2009. "Partisanship and Economic Behavior: Do Partisan Differences in Economic Forecasts Predict Real Economic Behavior?" American Political Science Review 103 (3 August): 407-26.

Abstract: Survey data regularly show that assessments of current and expected future economic performance are more positive when a respondent's partisanship matches that of the president. To determine if this is a survey artifact or something deeper, we investigate whether partisanship is associated with behavioral differences in economic decisions. We construct a new data set of county-level quarterly taxable sales to examine the effect of partisanship on consumption. Consumption change following a presidential election is correlated with a county's partisan complexion, a result consistent with partisans acting outside the domain of politics in accordance with the opinions they express in surveys. These results support an expansive view of the role of partisanship in mass politics and help validate surveys as a method for studying political behavior.

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Gordon, Sanford Clark, Gregory Alain Huber, and Dimitri Landa. 2009. "Voter responses to Challenger Opportunity Costs." Electoral Studies 28 (1 March): 79-93.

Abstract: How do voters evaluate candidates in competitive elections? Gordon et al. (2007) present a model in which the fact of a serious electoral challenge conveys information about the relative competence of the candidates, over and above that conveyed by observable measures of candidate quality. The model predicts differences in voters' responses to candidates depending on challenger opportunity costs. Taken together, these predictions diverge from those associated with an alternative theoretical account. We take advantage of the variation in challenger opportunity costs afforded by state legislative term limits to evaluate the model's predictions. State legislators frequently challenge sitting members of the U.S. House. Those who are term-limited have less to lose from running, whereas those who are not must often risk their current position in pursuit of higher office. Using data on voter attitudes and knowledge about House elections involving state legislators, we find compelling evidence that voters respond to variation in challenger opportunity costs in a manner consistent with the model's predictions.

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Note: This paper previously circulated as "Do Costly Challenges Make Voters Believe?"

Huber, Gregory A. and John S. Lapinski. 2008. "Testing the Implicit-Explicit Model of Racialized Political Communication." Perspectives on Politics 6 (1 March): 125-134.

Abstract: The Implicit-Explicit (IE) model of racial priming posits that implicitly racial messages will be more effective than explicitly racial ones in priming racial predispositions in opinion formation. Is the Implicit-Explicit model supported by existing data? In "Racial Priming Revived," Mendelberg responds to our analysis of a pair of experiments in which we found that "that implicit appeals are no more effective than explicit ones in priming racial resentment in opinion formation." In this note we demonstrate that the concerns raised about our experiments are unfounded. Further, we show that the existing work supporting the IE model suffers from serious limitations of experimental design and implementation. Cumulatively, we find that the evidence questioning the IE model is far stronger than the evidence that supports it.

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Huber, Gregory A. and Kevin Arceneaux. 2007. "Identifying the Persuasive Effects of Presidential Advertising." American Journal of Political Science 51 (4 October): 957-977.

Abstract: Do presidential campaign advertisements mobilize, inform, or persuade citizens? To answer this question we exploit a natural experiment, the accidental treatment of some individuals living in nonbattleground states during the 2000 presidential election to either high levels or one-sided barrages of campaign advertisements simply because they resided in a media market adjoining a competitive state. We isolate the effects of advertising by matching records of locally broadcast presidential advertising with the opinions of National Annenberg Election Survey respondents living in these uncontested states. This approach remedies the observed correlation between advertising and both other campaign activities and previous election outcomes. In contrast to previous research, we find little evidence that citizens are mobilized by or learn from presidential advertisements, but strong evidence that they are persuaded by them. We also consider the causal mechanisms that facilitate persuasion and investigate whether some individuals are more susceptible to persuasion than others.

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Note: This paper previously circulated as "Uncovering the Persuasive Effects of Presidential Advertising."

Huber, Gregory A. and Sanford C. Gordon. 2007. "Directing Retribution: On the Political Control of Lower Court Judges." Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization 23 (2 June): 386-420.

Abstract: The sentencing decisions of trial judges are constrained by statutory limits imposed by legislatures. At the same time, judges in many states face periodic review, often by the electorate. We develop a model in which the effects of these features of a judge's political landscape on judicial behavior interact. The model yields several intriguing results: First, if legislators care about the proportionality of punishment, judicial discretion increases with their punitiveness. Second, voters are limited by two factors in their ability to make inferences about judicial preferences based on observed sentences: the extent to which judges are willing to pander to retain office and the range of judicial discretion mandated by the legislature. Finally, legislators can sometimes manipulate judicial discretion to aid sufficiently like-minded voters in their efforts to replace ideologically dissimilar judges.

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Gordon, Sanford C., Gregory A. Huber, and Dimitri Landa. 2007. "Challenger Entry and Voter Learning." American Political Science Review 101 (2 May): 303-320.

Abstract: We develop a model of strategic interaction between voters and potential electoral challengers to sitting incumbents, in which the very fact of a costly challenge conveys relevant information to voters. Given incumbent failure in office, challenger entry is more likely, but the threat of entry by inferior challengers creates an incentive for citizens to become more politically informed. At the same time, challenges to incumbents who perform well can neutralize a voter's positive assessment of incumbent qualifications. How a voter becomes politically informed can in turn deter challengers of different levels of competence from running, depending on the electoral environment. The model permits us to sharpen our understanding of retrospective voting, the incumbency advantage, and the relationship between electoral competition and voter welfare, while pointing to new interpretations of, and future avenues for, empirical research on elections.

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Note: This paper previously circulated as "The Informational Value of Challengers."

Gordon, Sanford C. and Gregory A. Huber. 2007. "The Effect of Electoral Competitiveness on Incumbent Behavior." Quarterly Journal of Political Science 2 (2 May): 107-138.

Abstract: What is the marginal effect of competitiveness on the power of electoral incentives? Addressing this question empirically is difficult because challenges to incumbents are endogenous to their behavior in office. To overcome this obstacle, we exploit a unique feature of Kansas courts: 14 districts employ partisan elections to select judges, while 17 employ noncompetitive retention elections. In the latter, therefore, challengers are ruled out. We find judges in partisan systems sentence more severely than those in retention systems. Additional tests attribute this to the incentive effects of potential competition, rather than the selection of more punitive judges in partisan districts.

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Arceneaux, Kevin and Gregory A. Huber. 2007. "What to Do (and Not Do) with Multicollinearity in State Politics Research." State Politics and Policy Quarterly 7 (1 Spring): 81-101.

Abstract: State politics scholars often confront data situations where the explanatory variables in a model are highly related to each other. Such multicollinearity ("MC") makes it difficult to identify the independent effect that each of these variables has on the outcome of interest. In an effort to circumvent MC, researchers sometimes drop collinear variables from the regression model. Using simulated data, we demonstrate the implications that MC has for statistical estimation and the potential for introducing bias that the omitting-variables approach generates. We also discuss MC in the context of multiplicative interaction models, using research on the influence of the initiative on policy responsiveness as an applied example. We conclude with advice for researchers faced with MC in their datasets.

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Huber, Gregory A. and John S. Lapinski. 2006. "The "Race Card" Revisited: Assessing Racial Priming in Policy Contests." American Journal of Political Science 50 (2 April): 421-440.

Abstract: In The Race Card (2001), Mendelberg finds support for her theory that implicit racial appeals, but not explicit ones, prime racial resentment in opinion formation. She argues that citizens reject explicit appeals, rendering them ineffective, because they violate widespread egalitarian norms. Mendelberg's innovative research, however, suffers from several limitations. We remedy these deficiencies using two randomized experiments with over 6,300 respondents. We confirm that individuals do tend to reject explicit appeals outright, but find that implicit appeals are no more effective than explicit ones in priming racial resentment in opinion formation. In accounting for the differences between previous research and our own, we show that education moderates both the accessibility of racial predispositions and message acceptance. This suggests that the necessary assumptions of Mendelberg's theory hold only for different and exclusive subsets of the general population.

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Huber, Gregory A. and Sanford C. Gordon. 2004. "Accountability and Coercion: Is Justice Blind when It Runs for Office?" American Journal of Political Science 48 (2 April): 247-263.

Abstract: Through their power to sentence, trial judges exercise enormous authority in the criminal justice system. In 39 American states, these judges stand periodically for reelection. Do elections degrade their impartiality? We develop a dynamic theory of sentencing and electoral control. Judges discount the future value of retaining office relative to implementing preferred sentences. Voters are largely uninformed about judicial behavior, so even the outcome of a single publicized case can be decisive in their evaluations. Further, voters are more likely to perceive instances of underpunishment than overpunishment. Our theory predicts that elected judges will consequently become more punitive as standing for reelection approaches. Using sentencing data from 22,095 Pennsylvania criminal cases in the 1990s, we find strong evidence for this effect. Additional tests confirm the validity of our theory over alternatives. For the cases we examine, we attribute at least 1,818 to 2,705 years of incarceration to the electoral dynamic.

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Reprinted in The Economics of Judicial Behavior. 2013. Ed. Lee Epstein. Edward Elgar: Northampton, MA.

Gordon, Sanford C. and Gregory A. Huber. 2002. "Citizen Oversight and the Electoral Incentives of Criminal Prosecutors." American Journal of Political Science 46 (2 April): 334-351.

Abstract: Popular wisdom suggests that only by securing convictions can elected prosecutors cultivate the perception that they are tough on crime. This article considers why voters might use conviction rates to evaluate prosecutors and whether justice is subverted as a consequence. Citizens lack information about individual cases and prosecutor behavior. We model voter oversight of prosecutors in light of these difficulties. Voters use the promise of reelection given observed outputs to induce prosecutors to reduce uncertainty through investigation and subsequently to punish the guilty and free the innocent. The model demonstrates that an optimal voter strategy is always to reelect prosecutors who obtain convictions. Most importantly, even voters who most fear wrongful convictions should reward success at trial. Voter attitudes and beliefs instead influence rewards for cases concluded out of court, including plea bargains. Finally, we derive sanctions necessary to prevent prosecutors from suppressing evidence when doing so is politically tempting.

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Huber, Gregory A. and Thomas J. Espenshade. 1997. "Neo-Isolationism, Balanced-Budget Conservatism, and the Fiscal Impacts of Immigrants." International Migration Review 31 (4 Winter): 1031-1054.

Abstract: A rise in neo-isolationism in the United States has given encouragement to a new fiscal politics of immigration. Growing anti-immigrant sentiment has coalesced with forces of fiscal conservatism to make immigrants an easy target of budget cuts. Limits on legal alien access to social welfare programs that are contained in the 1996 welfare and immigration reform acts seem motivated not so much by a guiding philosophy of what it means to be a member of American society as by a desire to shrink the size of the federal government and to produce a balanced budget. Even more than in the past, the consequence of a shrinking welfare state is to metamorphose legal immigrants from public charges to windfall gains for the federal treasury.

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Espenshade, Thomas J., Jessica L. Baraka and Gregory A. Huber. 1997. "Implications of the 1996 Welfare and Immigration Reform Acts for US Immigration." Population and Development Review 23 (4 December): 769-801.

Abstract: Major changes in noncitizen eligibility for welfare and in US immigration policy are contained in two pieces of federal legislation signed into law in 1996. The first, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, reforms the entitlement policy for poor families and imposes new limits on alien access to welfare benefits and other social services. The second, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, strengthens efforts to combat illegal immigration and creates higher standards of financial self-sufficiency for the admission of sponsored legal immigrants. The authors suggest that these reforms will produce unintended, and possibly undesirable, consequences. They argue in particular that the 1996 reform measures, instead of preserving legal immigration and discouraging illegal immigration, are more likely to reduce the former and expand incentives for the latter. In addition, the Personal Responsibility Act creates added pressures for eligible legal immigrants to apply for US citizenship. To the extent that higher rates of naturalization were unanticipated by reformers of welfare policy, the actual cost savings attributable to reduced benefits for noncitizens will be smaller than expected.

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Book

Huber, Gregory A. 2007. The Craft of Bureaucratic Neutrality: Interests and Influence in Governmental Regulation of Occupational Safety. Cambridge University Press.

The Craft of Bureaucratic Neutrality

Are political understandings of bureaucracy incompatible with Weberian features of administrative neutrality? In examining the question of whether interest groups and elected officials are able to influence how government agencies implement the law, this book identifies the political origins of bureaucratic neutrality. In bridging the traditional gap between questions of internal management (public administration) and external politics (political science), Huber argues that 'strategic neutrality' allows bureaucratic leaders to both manage their subordinates and sustain political support. By analyzing the OSH Act of 1970, Huber demonstrates the political origins and benefits of administrative neutrality, and contrasts it with apolitical and unconstrained administrative implementation. Historical analysis, interviews with field-level bureaucrats and their supervisors, and quantitative analysis provide a rich understanding of the twin difficulties agency leaders face as political actors and personnel managers.

Other Published/Forthcoming Papers/Chapters

Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, David Doherty, and Conor M. Dowling. 2011. "The Big Five Personality Traits in the Political Arena." Annual Review of Political Science Vol. 14: 265-287.

Abstract: Recent political science research on the effects of core personality traits--the Big Five--contributes to our understanding of how people interact with their political environments. This research examines how individual-level variations in broad, stable psychological characteristics affect individual-level political outcomes. In this article, we review recent work that uses the Big Five to predict political attitudes and behavior. We also replicate some of these analyses using new data to examine the possibility that prior findings stem from sampling error or unique political contexts. Finally, we discuss several of the challenges faced by scholars who are currently pursuing or are interested in pursuing this line of inquiry. These challenges include refining theoretical explanations of how the Big Five shape political outcomes, addressing important measurement concerns, and resolving inconsistencies across studies.

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Gordon, Sanford C. and Gregory A. Huber. 2009. "The Political Economy of Prosecution." Annual Review of Law and Social Science 5: 135-156.

Abstract: Contemporary advances in the field of political economy, particularly those concerning the subject of delegated authority, can provide a unifying framework for analyzing the behavior and political context of criminal prosecutors in the United States. This perspective, which focuses on the extent of conflict between an official's motives and those of other actors, and the degree to which information is unevenly distributed among those actors, is well suited for studying prosecutors--the vast majority of whom are elected but whose accountability is frequently called into question. We apply this perspective to three areas in the existing literature on prosecutors: plea bargaining, courtroom communities, and public corruption prosecution.

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Huber, Gregory A. 2007. "Contingency, Politics, and the Nature of Inquiry: Why Non-events Matter." In Political Contingency: Studying the Unexpected, the Accidental, and the Unforeseen, eds. Ian Shapiro and Sonu Bedi. New York: NYU Press

Abstract: Contingent events are probabilistic. Acknowledging that realized contingencies alter observed political outcomes, however, does little to advance the systematic study of politics. This paper suggests that political science should focus on understanding how foreseeable contingencies, rather than truly “exogenous” unforeseeable events, alter political behavior. The most useful tool for understanding the effects of these foreseeable contingencies on political interactions is the formal and informal analysis of strategic behavior in the face of uncertainty through the use of game theory. This paper identifies the limitations of using observed contingent events to understand the role of contingencies in politics. More broadly, it suggests that the proper analysis of anticipatory strategic behavior has implications for the allocation of research resources across many topics of interest to political science.

Links: (Download Paper: Local PDF, NYU Press)