Dissertation: Trading Liberty for Security: Repression and Reelection in Democracies

How does repression influence democratic leaders’ likelihood of winning reelection? How can the international community intervene to protect the rights of vulnerable groups? Research on the security-civil liberties trade-off reveals that voters are often willing to trade individual rights for collective security. In my three-paper dissertation, I draw from this literature to argue that voters are likely to reward repression at the ballot box when they believe the security value of repression outweighs the ideal of protecting civil liberties. Yet, I also argue that international human rights organizations (HROs) can shift voters’ perceptions of the threat posed by the targets of rights abuses, thus increasing the public constraint against state repression. To test my argument, I first use events data to analyze the relationship between targeted repression and incumbent reelection rates in free and fair elections from 1995 to 2019. I then an original conjoint experiment in the United States to evaluate the causal effect of repression on vote share. Finally, I use text analysis of social media data and vignette experiments to evaluate the effectiveness of HROs’ public information campaigns. Together, the three papers of my dissertation provide important insight into the limitations of democratic institutions for curtailing state repression and the methods by which the international community can intervene to safeguard human rights.  

Book Chapter

2020. “Comparative Political Science Research on Diversity.” In Diversity Across the Disciplines: Research on People, Policy, Process, and Paradigm, ed. Audrey J. Murrell, Jennifer L. Petrie-Wyman, and Abdesalam Soudi. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc. (with Scott Morgenstern)

Work in Progress

“Not All Elections Are Created Equal: Election Quality and Civil Conflict” (with Daniela Donno and Burcu Savun, Revise and Resubmit)

Time and Compliance with International Rulings: The Case of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights” (with Aníbal Pérez-Liñán and Luis Schenoni)

“Challenging Voter Suppression: How the Judiciary Influences Attitudes toward Voting Rights” (with Jabari Cook)

“Addressing Conceptual Challenges: Compliance and Impact” (with Aníbal Pérez-Liñán and Luis Schenoni, book chapter Under Review)