C-SoDA Postdoctoral Fellows Present at State Politics and Policy Conference

C-SoDA Postdoctoral Fellows Present at State Politics and Policy Conference

The Center for Social Data Analytics Postdoctoral Fellows, Isaac Pollert and Yuehong Cassandra Tai presented their current research at 2023 State Politics and Policy conference in Pittsburgh, PA.

Isaac presented two pieces at the conference. Their abstracts are as follows: the first is a paper on interstate compacts. We use an event history model to test how policy moves between states when they are members of the same group or compact. Our cases are the “governor's” compacts that happened during the pandemic. These groups formed to combat covid 19, and there was an abnormal amount of policy activity during this time allowing us to use these groups as “lab rats” with unusually high levels of policy output to test our theories. We find that compact membership speeds up the adoption process within the group. If one state in a compact adopts a policy, other states are more likely to do so and faster if they find it useful for their own purposes. We also find, however, that compact membership does not lead to uniform policy platforms. A group that contains seven states will not have seven identical sets of policy, but will pick and choose what works presumably using their group members as information. This is the first work we are aware of to demonstrate this relationship.

The second piece is on "Stop the Steal" protests and their causes. There are competing possibilities for why these protests occur, and we try to focus them into three categories. First, there is the possibility that StS activities are a manifestation of substantive policy preferences, and that protestors are unhappy with the voting laws in their states. We test for this with standard measures of voting costs within states. Second, we use traditional measure of white racial policy preference formation to see if this is a group identity-based activity. These tend to include racial resentment measures and economic threat indicators. Finally, building on some more recent literature, we use census data to test group threat hypotheses related to in-migration at the county and state level. We find that StS protests are not associated with states that have lax voting laws, and on the contrary, are more likely to occur in states with strict voting laws. We also find some indicators of group threat, as states and counties with high levels of in-migration are more likely to have StS protests, but this effect decreases as the white population increases. 

Yuehong Cassandra Tai present her paper coauthored with C-SoDA Director, Bruce Desmarais and Yu-ru Lin (University of Pitts). Her abstract is as follows: Public officials stand to lead constructive online dialogue, but they also hold the potential to accelerate the dissemination of harmful content, including misinformation. In this study, we explore and explain the sharing of harmful online content on Facebook by U.S. state legislators between 2020 and 2021. We find that dissemination of misinformation is relatively rare, but differs considerably by party and states. In general, Republican legislators share more misinformation. We also find that legislators who are in states with ideologically similar citizen bodies are more likely to share misinformation than are those legislators who are ideological minorities in their states.

Great work Isaac and Cassandra!