About me (and my work)

I am an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I received my PhD from Columbia University and taught at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas in Mexico City before coming to UNC.

My main research interest is the study of executive politics including the process of government formation and change, and the dynamics of executive approval. Although I am mainly interested in presidential systems, I have also written work comparing the determinants of ministerial turnover and the dynamics of approval in parliamentary and presidential systems. My current projects on these topics are described below.

First, I am interested in the dynamics of executive approval and what they tell us about the prospects for accountability and governability in different contexts. Currently, I am working with Ryan Carlin, Matthew Singer, Timothy Hellwig, Greg Love, and Jonathan Hartlyn on several related projects that explore how accountability works in the presidential systems of Latin America, and across different constitutional regimes. One of the big challenges to date in this area has been that data on executive approval across a wide cross-section of presidential systems has been unavailable. For this project we have gathered comprehensive comparative data on executive approval in 18 Latin American countries (the Executive Approval Dataset).

Using this data we first tested the effect of economic performance on patterns of accountability for scandals. We also have work in which we offer an argument about how institutional clarity of responsibility affects the prospects for accountability across different policy areas. We test our argument by looking at the difference in patterns of accountability in economic and security policy. In 2018 we published an article that explores the dynamics of presidential approval in Latin America and finds it follows a cycle very similar to the one found in other presidential systems. Our latest published articles (2021) are on inequality and executive approval, and on the importance of the information context for the connection between economic conditions and expectations.

In 2021 we received a grant from the National Science Foundation to work on the impact of economic, security, natural disaster, and public health crises on public support for political leaders in contemporary democracies.

Second, I coordinate (with Jonathan Hartlyn and Nicolas de la Cerda) the Chapel Hill Expert Survey – Latin America (CHES-LA). The survey measures party positioning on policy issues for political parties across Latin America and is part of the long-running CHES-Europe. The first version of the survey was in the field from July to October 2020 and will be publicly available on the CHES website by the summer of 2022. The survey records the input of 160 experts and places 112 political parties and 13 presidents on an extensive set of issues and dimensions across 12 Latin American countries.

I also coordinate, with Marcelo Camerlo, a collaborative project that gathers detailed data on portfolio allocation across the Americas, the Presidential Cabinets Project. This project brings together country experts to explore variation in three main dimensions of portfolio allocation in presidential systems: cabinet design, government formation and portfolio re-allocation. The first outcome of this project is an edited volume, Government Formation and Ministerial turnover in Presidential Cabinets (Routledge, 2018), that includes eight country chapters that follow a common theoretical framework, a comparative chapter, and a comprehensive dataset that provides information on the three dimensions of portfolio allocation for each of the countries in the book. The first version of the dataset will be publicly available soon on our website.

For more details, navigate to the Publications and More Work Projects pages on this website.