American Politics

Political Institutions, Legislative Politics, Political Communication,

Policy Process, Representation, Social Media in Congress

Public Policy

Agenda-setting, Policy Process, Policy Outcomes, Decision-Making

Political Communication

Social Media, Agenda-setting, Political Journalism, Strategic Communication,

Text-as-data Analysis, Content Analysis



              My dissertation, “The Politics of Prioritization: How Twitter Reflects Senators’ Attention,” offers a new framework for explaining how politicians prioritize attention and make trade offs among those priorities. Just as a legislature will choose to address some issues and ignore others, individual politicians make similar calculations that have implications on representation and the policy process. I explain patterns in senators’ issue attention by linking their relationships with their party, their constituency, and the institution to the attention they divide and trade-off among their many priorities. I test the empirical implications of this model using original data from senators’ Twitter communications. By building a complex understanding of what influences the attention trade-offs senators make between politics and representation, I discover two findings.  First, policy priorities are both a function of institutional roles — such as committee leadership — and the trade-off in constituent priorities.  Committee leaders who prioritize policy have less time and attention to spend on constituent issues. Second, the heightened partisan climate produces asymmetrical patterns of partisan priorities.  Republican senators are more likely than Democrats to prioritize politics and more likely to use negative, attack-oriented rhetoric on Twitter.  



“The Politics of Prioritization:  Senators’ Attention in 140 Characters” Forthcoming. The Forum. 

“U.S. Senators on Twitter: Asymmetric Party Rhetoric in 140 Characters” (forthcoming). American Politics Research.

“New Avenues for the Study of Agenda Setting.” 2014. Policy Studies Journal. 42: 71-86. (With Bryan Jones and Rebecca Eissler)



“The Media and Policy” (forthcoming). Ed. John Hird. Policy Analysis in the U.S. (with Maxwell McCombs)

“The Policy Agendas Project.” 2016. American Governance. (with Rebecca Eissler)

“On Punctuated Equilibrium Approaches” 2016. Contemporary Approaches to Public Policy. Ed. Philippe Zittoun and B. Guy Peters (with Bryan Jones and Rebecca Eissler)

“Local Government Agenda Setting” 2016. Handbook on Agenda Setting. Ed. Nikolaos Zahariadis. (with Peter Mortensen and Rebecca Eissler)

"From Crisis to Stasis: Media Dynamics and Issue Attention in the News” 2016. Ed. Shanto Iyengar. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. (with Amber Boydstun)

“Media and the Policy Agenda.” 2016. Ed. Shanto Iyengar. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. (with Bryan Jones and Maraam Dwidar)



“The Politics of Prioritization: Party Influence on Senators’ Attention”

“Valence of Attributes in News and the Effect on Public Opinion” (with Max McCombs and Shuning Lu)

“When and why do MPs ask questions to the minister? A study of opposition behavior in the Danish parliament” (with Christoffer Green-Pedersen, Peter Mortensen and Rebecca Eissler)

"Minority Representation and Minority Health" (with Rebecca Eissler and Eric McDaniel)

“The Electoral Affect: A Time-Series Cross-Section of Elite Policy Attention on Twitter.”



Graduate Director
Policy Agendas Project
University of Texas

Director of Undergraduate Research
Policy Agendas Project
University of Texas

Graduate Research Assistant
Professor Rhonda Evans
University of Texas

Visiting Researcher
Political Parties and Issue Strategies
Causes and Policy Consequences in Agenda Setting
Aarhus University

Graduate Research Assistant
Center for Applied Social Research
University of Oklahoma