Working Papers

Essig, J. (2023) There's The Party: Preferences & Party Influence in The U.S House of Representatives.  Working Paper - LINK TO PDF (see below for abstract)

Published & Under Review

Essig, J., Xu, P., Garand, J. C., & Keser, C. (2021). The “Trump” effect: political elite and support for free trade in America. American Politics Research, 49(3), 328-342.

Keser, C., Garand, J. C., Xu, P., & Essig, J. (2023). Partisanship, Trump Favorability, and Changes in Support for Trade. Revise & Resubmit at Presidential Studies Quarterly

Works in Progress

"Ideological Mapping of Federal Regulations" (with Tony Molino)

"Extreme Weather Events & Climate Policy Attitudes" (with Larry Rothenberg & Tony Molino)

Dissertation Summary

My dissertation contributes to our knowledge of preference formation, public opinion, legislator behavior, and political institutions within the field of American politics. My research employs a combination of  theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of politics, from observational data, to political-psychological theory, to new survey experimental designs. On a broader level, it prompts communication between the behavioral and institutional subfields of American politics. 


The U.S. Congress is today almost unimaginable without parties, yet evidence that parties influence votes remains limited. Without direct evidence of party discipline, the literature has studied roll call votes themselves in search of party effects. Using individual responses to Democratic whip counts in the House from 1955 to 1987, I reassess the evidence for party influence and reflect on the consequences of relying on roll call votes to capture preferences. Such a strategy cannot distinguish initial positions from final votes, which overstates members' natural party loyalty, shifts ideology estimates to the extremes, and distorts the relationship between preferences and votes. Even in this less polarized historical period, members do change their positions in patterns consistent with party persuasion, and those vote-switches are driven by both ideological and electoral concerns. Roll call scores like DW-NOMINATE remain key tools, but the distinction between preferences and votes cannot be ignored.


Despite its prominence in the framing literature, the expectancy value model has received little empirical attention from scholars. I argue that this model is useful as more than a conceptual tool: it can help close the gap between theory and empirical results in framing research. Surprisingly, no studies to date have compared observable within-subject changes in certain key correlates of the framing process before and after frame exposure. In developing and extending an expectancy value theory of emphasis framing, I argue that these important theoretical quantities are observable but often go unmeasured in standard experimental designs. Theoretically, I show that importance framing effects can appear arbitrarily small depending on the sample distribution of attitudes, regardless of the magnitude of change to the structure of individual preferences. Embedding a novel pre-post repeated measure design in a replication study of a canonical framing effect, I find strong support for the predictions of my theory. And, contrary to conventional wisdom, framing results do not appear to be sensitive to repeated measures. I also demonstrate a simple procedure to detect importance framing effects independent of the Average Treatment Effect on an attitudinal outcome, requiring fewer assumptions than traditional path analytic approaches in post-treatment measurement designs. I close by encouraging continued focus on the expectancy value model of opinion formation, explicitly challenging the notion of an "end of framing."