Award Recipients - 2016

MPSA Award Recipients - 2016

The MPSA sponsors many awards for outstanding research presented at the MPSA Conference and one award for the best article published in each volume of the American Journal of Political Science (AJPS). Nominations are made by conference chairs, discussants, and section heads after the conference. Award committees select the winning papers. Awards are announced at the MPSA business meeting during the conference the following year.

The following awards were presented at the 2016 conference for research presented at the 2015 conference:

Best Paper by an Emerging Scholar

A $250 award for the best paper, regardless of field or topic, by a scholar or scholars who has or have received the terminal degree(s) within six years of the year in which the paper was presented.

Informed Preferences: the Impact of Unions on Worker’s Policy Views

Sung Eun Kim, Columbia University

Yotam Margalit, Tel Aviv University

Award Committee: Michael Berkman, The Pennsylvania State University (Chair); Eric McDaniel, University of Texas at Austin; Gabriel Sanchez, University of New Mexico

Committee Commendation: In this paper, Sung Eun Kim and Yotam Margalit offer a creative and compelling answer to an important and unresolved question in political socialization: Is the relationship between union membership and political behavior driven by self‐selection into labor organizations or exposure to the organizations’ political positions? Taking advantage of the different self‐selection mechanisms in states with and without right‐to‐work laws, original coding of issue positions in multiple labor unions, and a survey of American workers, the authors find that self‐selection into unions of workers with particular attitudes is important, but there is as well a strong and independent effect for union membership. This work advances our understanding of labor unions and political socialization more generally.

Best Paper in Comparative Policy Award

A $500 award sponsored by the Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice (JCPA) and International Comparative Policy Analysis Forum for the best paper in comparative policy. The winner(s) may submit their paper to JCPA for an expedited triple blind-fold review process.

Mass Administrative Reorganization, Media Attention, and the Paradox of Information

Anthony M. Bertelli, New York University

J. Andrew Sinclair,  New York University

Award Committee: Charles Blake, James Madison University (Chair); Christoffer Green-Pedersen, Aarhus University; Klaus Schubert, University of Muenster

Committee Commendation: The bulk of the literature on comparative public policy focuses on the dynamics of agenda setting, policy formulation, and policy adoption. Policy termination receives considerably less examination. In this stimulating paper, Professors Bertelli and Sinclair combine insights from multiple literatures to analyze the reorganization and termination of independent public agencies in the United Kingdom during the first David Cameron government. […] Their work provides a model that can be used to study policy termination and agency reorganization in countries around the world. We congratulate the authors on this paper and look forward to their future research on this important and oft-neglected topic.


Best Paper in International Relations

A $250 award for the best paper on the topic of international relations.

Heeding to the Losers from Trade. Evidence from Legislators’ Trade Policy Preferences and Legislative Behavior

M. Victoria Murillo, Columbia University

Pablo Pinto, University of Houston

Award Committee: Tim Buthe, Duke University (Chair); Navin Bapat, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; S. Laurel Weldon, Purdue University

Committee Commendation: Trade policy preferences are a big topic in IPE, which has attracted prolific attention in recent years. Murillo and Pinto nonetheless manage to make a significant contribution to this literature through an analysis of trade policy preferences among Argentine legislators, using a combination of roll call voting analysis and survey experiments. This allows them to show that Argentinian legislators differ in their trade policy preferences at the individual level, even within the same party, and in particular that they differ in the responsiveness to various trade policy frames, in ways that are substantially attributable to the economic interests of the socio-economic consequences of trade for the local communities in which they live (rather than their electoral districts, suggesting a broader socio-economic logic of preference than "just" the electoral logic). This is an important and quite novel insight in a literature that, despite its size and explosive growth in recent year is still very short on analyses of policy preference formation by actual political elites, which recent research strongly suggests is quite distinct from mass trade policy preference formation among the mass public.


Best Paper Presented in a Poster Format

A $250 award for the best paper presented in a poster format.

A Portrait of Politics: The Wholesale Marketing of the Chicago Neighborhood of Pilsen

Scott Braam, University of Illinois, Chicago

Award Committee: Kyle Saunders, Colorado State University (Chair); Natalie Masuoka, Tufts University; Efrén Pérez, Vanderbilt University

Committee Commendation: The Braam poster/paper is an interesting exploration of Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood that analyzes changing art in the area over time as well as interviews conducted with local activists/artists. Scott develops a narrative about the tradeoffs of urban revitalization and its effects on political and social identity over time, also touching on timely topics of interest such as racial contact and neighborhood gentrification. The committee commends Scott and wish him much future success.


Best Undergraduate Poster Award

A $250 award for the best paper presented in a poster format by an undergraduate.

The Calculus of Vote-Selling: Electoral Trust and the Value of a Vote

Eli Rau, Yale University

Award Committee: Jessica Carew, Elon University (Chair); Anne Boxberger Flaherty, Merrimack College; Joely  Proudfit, California State University San Marcos

Committee Commendation: This paper builds a strong conceptual and theoretical foundation through a solid examination of the relevant extant literature. Rau explains and applies appropriate methodology for examining clientelism in Argentina, which leads to his insightful analysis regarding expected and unexpected results concerning how one’s trust in government influences decision-making regarding vote-selling.

Herbert A. Simon Award 

A $500 award for a scholar who has made a significant contribution to the scientific study of bureaucracy. Submissions are handled by the Midwest Caucus on Policy Administration. 

Mathew D. McCubbins

Award Committee: Midwest Caucus for Public Administration

Kellogg/Notre Dame Award (co-winners)

A $250 award for the best paper in comparative politics.

Clerics and Scriptures: Experimentally Disentangling the Influence of Religious Authority in Afghanistan

Luke N. Condra, University of Pittsburgh

Mohammad Isaqzadeh, American University of Afghanistan

Sera Linardi, University of Pittsburgh

Committee Commendation: The Condra, Isaqzadeh and Linardi paper addresses a fundamentally important question—what is the influence of religious authority on social and political mobilization? What motivates individuals more, the status of the “messenger” (i.e the religious authority) or the message itself?  Using a unique experimental design in Afghanistan, that examines monetary contributions after sermons, they find that while the presence of a cleric increases propensity to give, it also reduces the amount given.  On the other hand, the authority of scripture increases the amounts that subjects give while not affecting the propensity to give relative to the Cleric condition.  They contend that the cueing of the supernatural (regardless of the messenger) acts as a reminder for other motivations to give. Finally, their results demonstrate that religious authority has the greatest effect on those who feel relatively insecure socioeconomically. In general, their findings have very important implications for the role that religious authority plays in social and political mobilization, not only in Afghanistan, but beyond.


Information acquisition, local media, and electoral Accountability: when do Mexican voters punish Incumbents for high homicide rates?

John Marshall, Harvard University

Award Committee: John Ishiyama, University of North Texas (Chair); Sarah Brooks, Ohio State University; Carol Mershon, University of Virginia

Committee Commendation: The Marshall paper is very detailed work that examines the impact of violence on voters’ assessments of incumbent politicians in Mexico. The paper demonstrates that salient short-term performance indicators—such as recent local homicides—revealed just before an election can be major determinant of voting in Mexico. This is because voters who have weak priors over a candidate will only acquire information around election time. Thus the level of violence just before an election, and the media coverage of such violence,  will decisively affect an incumbent’s electoral prospects. The paper is theoretically well developed and empirically very sophisticated. Marshall convincingly shows that violence and media coverage just prior to elections has a major impact on the electoral prospects of incumbents. The paper not only has implications for Mexican politics in the era of widespread drug war violence, but for elections in other conflict ridden countries as well.


Kenneth J. Meier Award

A $250 award for the best paper in bureaucratic politics, public administration, or public policy.

Politics or Performance in Regulatory Personnel Turnover

Kathleen M. Doherty, University of Southern California

David E. Lewis, Vanderbilt University

Scott Limbocker, Vanderbilt University

Award Committee: Patricia F. Freeland, University of Tennessee (Chair); Mary Guy, University of Colorado, Denver; Erin Melton, University of Connecticut, Hartford

Committee Commendation: This examination of the conditions under which turnover in federal regulatory positions is likely to occur illuminates the opaque junction of politics, management, and the regulatory process. Conclusions regarding the actions of key regulatory officials engaged in major rule-making contributes significantly to our understanding of the regulatory process.


Lucius Barker Award

A $250 award for the best paper on a topic investigating race or ethnicity and politics and honoring the spirit and work of Professor Barker.

Racial Resentment and Whites’ Gun Policy Preferences in Contemporary America

Alexandra Filindra, University of Illinois at Chicago

Noah Kaplan, University of Illinois at Chicago 

Award Committee: Andra Gillespie, Emory  University (Chair); Andrew Aoki, Augsburg College; Karen Kaufmann, University of California, Los Angeles

Committee Commendation: In their paper, Drs. Filindra and Kaplan test the relationship between priming, racial resentment and support for gun control.  Using an experimental protocol and implicit attitude testing, they find that racially resentful whites who are exposed to implicit primes of black faces are more likely to oppose gun control.  This in and of itself is notable and timely.  However, Drs. Filindra and Kaplan supplement the experimental data with an excellent historical analysis about the origins of resistance to gun control measures and the connection between opposition to civil rights and opposition to gun control.  It was this methodological pluralism that made the paper stand out from its peers.  As one of the committee members described it, “this paper is running on all cylinders.”  For this, we congratulate Drs. Filindra and Kaplan and encourage everyone to read it in Political Behavior.


Patrick J. Fett Award

A $250 award for the best paper on the scientific study of Congress and the presidency.

Veto Rhetoric and Presidents’ Legislative Influence: Authorization Legislation, 1985-2008

Scott Guenther, University of California- San Diego

Samuel Kernell, University of California-San Diego

Award Committee: Lawrence Dodd, University of Florida (Chair); Jennifer Lawless, American University; Kenny Whitby, University of South Carolina

Committee Commendation: The Guenther and Kernell article addresses an important question that is paramount to an understanding of the relationship between Congress and the presidency. That is, do veto threats influence legislation? In this well written, carefully researched, and innovative paper, the authors challenge the conventional view that presidential veto threats have minimal effects on congressional decisionmaking. One of the many attractive features of their study is the utilization of a new measure of a presidential veto threat to pending legislation derived from the Office of Management and Budget. Their rigorous research design, methods, and sophisticated analysis of legislation over an extended period of time (1985-2008), convincingly demonstrates that presidential veto threats do matter. This paper has important implications for our understanding of lawmaking and will be a major contribution to the study of legislative-executive relations.


Pi Sigma Alpha Award

A $250 award for the best paper presented at the MPSA Annual National Conference. Sponsored by Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society.

The Company You Keep: How Voters Infer Party Positions on European Integration from Governing Coalition Arrangements

James Adams, UC Davis

Lawrence Ezrow, University of Essex

Christopher Wlezien, University of Texas at Austin

Award Committee: L. Sandy Maisel, Colby College (Chair); Tasha Philpot, University of Texas at Austin; Rogers Smith, University of Pennsylvania

Committee Commendation: The Adams, Ezrow, and Wlezian paper extends our understanding of voter perceptions and decisions by demonstrating that European voters use coalition-based heuristics to infer party positions, that is, that as a Prime Minister and his party shift positions, voters infer that junior coalition parties are shifting positions as well.  They further demonstrate that these coalition-based heuristic matter, as they prompt party sorting, and that voters employ these heuristics more effectively than more nuanced factors such as party manifestos or expert judgments. 


Review of Politics Award

A $250 award for the best paper in normative political theory.

Augustine, the Wise Man, and the Myth of Self-Sufficiency: Contextualizing City of God 19

Veronica Roberts, Princeton University

Award Committee: Lawrie Balfour, University of Virginia (Chair); Alexander Kirshner, Duke University; Melvin Rogers, University of California, Los Angeles

Committee Commendation: Roberts offers a compelling and novel interpretation of Augustine’s City of God. Focusing on Augustine's treatment of the philosophical Wise Man, Roberts’ finely-honed essay considers how Augustine distinguished himself from his influences, including the Stoics, the Peripatetics, and the Platonists. Augustine, on Robert’s account, uses the image of the Wise Man to mark out the insufficiency of mere philosophy for sustaining virtue and happiness. Roberts expertly uses the past several decades’ scholarship on Augustine alongside very recent work in Roman philosophy to offer a richer picture of the philosophical world to which Augustine was responding and in terms of which his thought makes the most sense. Her analysis of the debate over the “philosopher’s wise man” vividly contextualizes Augustine’s otherwise deceptively sui generis-seeming thought and humanizes a writer whom we too often approach as simply a Great Book. And it yields a distinctively Christian conception of solidarity, forged in and through suffering that departs from the Stoic understanding of detachment as the basis of public service.


Robert H. Durr Award

A $250 award for the best paper applying quantitative methods to a substantive problem.

An Exploration of Multiple Systems Estimation for Empirical Research With Violent Deaths

Jule Krüger, University of Michigan and Human Rights Data Analysis Group -  

Kristian Lum, Virginia Tech

Award Committee: D. Sunshine Hillygus, Duke University (Chair); Monique Lyle, University of South Carolina; John Transue, University of Illinois Springfield

Committee Commendation: Previous empirical research on political violence has been hindered by inaccurate death count statistics. Directly addressing this measurement challenge, Kruger and Lum offer a compelling validation of the multiple systems estimation approach to estimating violent deaths in Kosovo, with important implications for future human rights research and policy-making.


Sophonisba Breckinridge Award

A $250 award for the best paper on the topic of women and politics.

Complex Interactions:  Candidate Race, Sex, Electoral Institutions, and Voter Choice

Melody Crowder-Meyer, University of the South 

Shana Kushner Gadarian, Syracuse University

Jessica Trounstine, University of California, Merced

Kau Vue, University of the California-Merced

Award Committee: Sherri Wallace, University of Louisville (Chair); Niambi Carter, Howard  University; Dara Z. Strolovitch, Princeton University

Committee Commendation: The committee has selected this research by Melody Crowder-Meyer, University of the South, Shana Kushner Gadarian, Syracuse University, and Jessica Trounstine, University of California, Merced for its direct confrontation with intersectionality in an attempt to complicate theories of electoral institutions by incorporating gender and race into an analysis of American elections.


Westview Press Award

A $250 award sponsored by Westview Press for best paper by delivered by a graduate student.

(Un)Natural Disasters: Distributive Politics in Northeast Brazil

Alicia D. Cooperman, Columbia University

Award Committee: James Garand, Louisiana State University (Chair); Todd Bradley, Indiana University, Kokomo; Marcela Garcia-Castañon, San Francisco State

Committee Commendation: Cooperman explores an interesting and important research question relating to how disaster relief is distributed by incumbent mayors in Northeast Brazil. The politicization of disaster relief throughout the world has drawn the attention of political scientists, and Cooperman uses the exogeneity of the rainfall to explore the effects of political variables on drought declarations. She finds that during mayoral election years mayors from the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) exhibit a greater propensity to declare a drought declaration under both high rainfall and drought conditions, but the opposite pattern is exhibited during state or federal election years. Although this paper is on one region in Brazil, it has important implications for how political scientists study the effects of political variables on disaster relief in other political contexts. We congratulate Alicia Dailey Cooperman for her outstanding work.


AJPS Award - Best Paper

A $1,000 award for the best article appearing in the volume of the American Journal of Political Science published in the year preceding the conference.

Policy-Induced Risk and Responsive Participation: The Effect of a Son¹s Conscription Risk on the Voting Behavior of His Parents

Tiffany C. Davenport, United States Naval Academy

Award Committee: Tracy Osborn, University of Iowa (Chair); James Druckman, Northwestern University; Jana Morgan, University of Tennessee

Committee Commendation: Davenport’s work is significant and important. The paper makes a potentially seminal contribution to our understanding of political participation. It leverages a naturally occurring event to make clear causal inferences, adding understanding to individual resource‐related and campaign stimulus explanations for turnout. Within studies on political participation, she moves beyond prior work by offering a clear psychological theory about how risk assessment and context influence individual decisions to vote.