Works in Progress

"Where and When to Use Areal Interpolation Matching Relative to Spatial Audits" with John Curiel. (Revise and resubmit at State Politics and Policy Quarterly)


Amos and McDonald (2020) demonstrate the process of conducting spatial audits of residential addresses using hierarchical geocoding to match individual voters to legislative districts. Hierarchically geocoding residential addresses is the ideal method for matching purposes. However, cost constraints can limit its applicability for many researchers. In this letter, we make use of the data produced by Amos and McDonald to measure the extent to which one can correctly assign individuals to their state legislative districts using areal interpolation matching methods–centroid, geographic overlap, and population overlap matching. We test the accuracy of these three matching methods using the smallest unit of geography publicly available–the ZIP Code. We find that when predicting onto hierarchically geocoded data, these matching methods can ensure 90 percent accuracy of assignment when an individual’s ZIP code is split between fewer than 1.3 effective districts. This is most true when using population overlap matching. These results indicate that researchers can more efficiently conduct similar analyses by first using areal interpolation, reserving hierarchical geocoding for observations located within areas where districts divide lower-level geographic units. Our results extend the work of Amos and McDonald by identifying where shortcuts to hierarchical geocoding can be made while maintaining accurate data.

“Redistricting out Descriptive Representation: The Harmful Effects of Splitting ZIP codes on the Constituent-Representative Link” with John Curiel. (Revise and resubmit at the Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics).


Redistricting poses a potential harm to American voters in limiting choice and accountability at the polls. Although voters still technically retain their right to contact their representatives, research shows that the confusion created when redistricting divides ZIP codes confounds the constituent-representative link. We build on existing research that shows splitting ZIP codes across multiple congressional districts leads to harms in representation. Specifically, we examine the role of splitting ZIP codes on the recognition of the racial group membership of one's member of Congress—a foundation of the descriptive representation of racial minority voters via majority-minority districts in the U.S. We find that citizens living in split ZIP codes are significantly less likely to know the race of their member of Congress. This occurs even when controlling for a host of factors including the race and partisanship of the constituent, the tenure of the member, and the amount of time a constituent has lived in their congressional district. Our work provides further evidence of the democratic harms experienced by American citizens living in ZIP codes that are split by multiple congressional districts. This work also points to the representational harms produced by poor district design on the representation of American voters.

"Surrogate Representation in the United States House of Representatives." (Under review)


While geographic-based representation for members of the U.S. House of Representatives is constitutionally mandated, the "lines" of American politics have become blurred. Citizens contact, volunteer, and donate to members of Congress from across the country despite having no territorial relationship with them. Surrogate representation—the representation of Americans by legislators outside their legislative district—is an understudied phenomenon that offers insights into how, and why, these relationships form. In this paper, I offer a psychological theory of representation where legislators make group-based representative claims that are accepted by citizens across political boundaries—thus facilitating surrogate representation. Using campaign contributions to U.S. House members from 2012-2018, I demonstrate that surrogate representatives see a significantly larger percentage of their total constituencies comes from outside their congressional district. The evidence presented here challenges the standard account of representation in American politics and calls for a more robust examination of surrogate representation in contemporary politics.