Research projects


Sexuality and and electoral behaviour

Voting like their rights depended on it. Sexuality and turnout in Western Europe. (with Joshua Townsley)

Abstract: In this paper, we provide the first empirical assessment of the effect of sexuality on electoral participation and political interest across twelve Western European countries. Empirically, we employ a recently applied method of identifying lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) individuals using data on the gender composition of cohabiting partner households from the European Social Survey. We theorise that LGBs are incentivised to be more politically engaged because the political process allows them to expand their in-group welfare. Our findings show that there is a “sexuality gap” in turnout in Western Europe and a similar effect is observed on political interest, one of the primary predictors of individual-level turnout. Testing the conditionality of the gap reveals that leftist party mobilisation and within-group interactions likely explain LGBs “over participation” in electoral competitions. LGB individuals’ increased likelihood of voting makes this group a prime target for political persuasion.

Multidimensional issue preferences of the European lavender vote

Abstract: Are lesbian, gay and bisexual voters in Western Europe europhile globalists or eurosceptic nativists? The recently established ‘sexuality gap’ between lavender voters and heterosexuals in Western Europe shows that LGBs are more likely to support left-leaning parties and identify ideologically with the left than their heterosexual peers. We know very little, however, about how this gap plays out in the multidimensional space in Europe where cultural concerns from over issues like immigration and EU integration are increasingly important when it comes to voters deciding how to vote in elections. In this paper, I use data from eight rounds of the European Social Survey (2002-2017) to investigate the impact of LGB status on support for EU integration and immigration. The results show that, despite claims that LGBs may be opposed to immigration that they view as inimical to their liberal values, lavender voters in Western Europe are significantly more pro-integrationist and pro-immigration than comparable heterosexuals.

EU intervention

EU intervention, economic perceptions & satisfaction with democracy. (with Dan Devine) – accepted for presentation at EPSA 2020

Abstract: The dramatic decline in political support in the aftermath of the Eurozone crisis has sparked a debate regarding the role of the European Union’s intervention into a small collection of its member states and the negative consequences this intervention signals for representative democracy. Primarily, there are two arguments made to explain the decline of political trust within the intervened-in states. One argument is that EU intervention undermines representative democracy as it ties the hands of political parties, castrating the room for manoeuvre of governments which reduces the ability of voters to choose between demarcated political alternatives. This reduced room for manoeuvre or “democracy without choice” engenders dissatisfaction with the democratic system as voters become aware of their inability to shape the policies of those who seek to govern them. A different argument suggests that EU intervention serves as an information cue  that signals to citizens that their government is unable to provide competent economic governance. As a result, a decline in political support in the intervened-in economies is brought about by citizens’ updating their subjective evaluations of economic performance. In this paper we ask what effect do economic interventions have on satisfaction with democracy, economic perceptions, and the mechanisms that are at play between these three variables.

Electoral campaigns & Voter Mobilisation

Mobilising voters to lobby their MPs on Brexit. Field experiment evidence from the UK.
(with Joshua TownsleyFlorian Foos and Denise Baron) – accepted for presentation at EPSA 2020

Abstract: Mass emails are a common tactic by which advocacy groups try to mobilise like-minded others to lobby political representatives. This paper assesses whether a large-scale campaign conducted by the UK’s main anti- Brexit advocacy group effectively induced constituent-to-legislator lobbying. The organisation conducted a large-scale field experiment in which 119,332 supporters were randomly assigned to receive one of four email messages, or to a control group. The emails urged supporters to lobby their local MP to support a second Brexit referendum, randomly varying whether or not they informed recipients of: i) their MP’s opposition to a second referendum, and ii) the urgency of the issue. We find that this email campaign generated around 3,247 individual emails to 346 non-aligned MPs, corresponding to an increase in emails of 3.4 percentage-points over the control group. We find no differential effect of revealing an MP’s incongruent Brexit position or of emphasising urgency. These results suggest that in high-stakes contexts, mass emails can be highly effective at mobilising supporters of a cause.
[pre-reg] [paper] 

Brexit identities and campaign framing experiment.
(with Katharina Lawall, Joshua Townsley and Florian Foos) – accepted for presentation at EPSA 2020

Over recent years, there has been an increase in negative partisanship across Western democracies, as well as an emergence of new political identities structured around the liberal-authoritarian dimension. Emerging issue-based identities compete with traditional party identities and politics is increasingly characterised by strong feelings towards outgroups. In times of such political turmoil, how can political parties use salient political identities to mobilise supporters? We conducted a large-scale pre-registered randomized field experiment in collaboration with a major political party in the UK. We test whether supporters of the party were more likely to donate and volunteer if they were exposed to negative rather than positive political identity cues, and whether the effect of these cues varied depending on whether they primed traditional party identities or salient issue identities. Party supporters either received an email invoking a positive party identity (helping the in-party win), an email invoking negative party identity (stopping the out-party from winning), an email invoking positive Brexit identities (supporting Remain), and an email invoking negative Brexit identities (stopping Brexit). We expect that negative political identities are more powerful in encouraging costly political behaviour than positive ones, and that negative cues should be more effective when paired with traditional party identities.


Other projects

Polarised and mobilised: EU determinants of voter participation in the 2019 European Parliament election (with Cal Le Gall and  Joshua Townsley)   submitted Feb 2020

Voting for VOX in the 2019 Spanish general selection (with José Rama and Andrés Santana).   submitted Feb 2020

VOX: The Rise of the Spanish Radical Right (with José Rama, Lisa Zanoletti, and Andrés Santana) – under contract with Routledge