Research

My research investigates how people think about politics as well as how thoughts and preferences are translated into political activity.


I focus primarily on understanding the political psychological foundations of geographic polarization (including especially the urban-rural divide). In related research, I study the relationship between political communication, nationalization, and partisan polarization. My research focuses overwhelmingly on the United States, but I have related projects investigating regional resentment (e.g., the “North vs. South Divide”) in the United Kingdom.


My work has been published in Political Behavior(x3), Political Geography, Political Research Quarterly(x2), Legislative Studies Quarterly, American Politics Research, Prevention Science, and Publius: The Journal of Federalism, and featured by the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Fox News, News Nation, The National Review, New York Magazine, and Slate Magazine.


I have also contributed commentary to The Hill, The Washington Post, The Brookings Institute, The Niskanen Center, Democracy Journal, Washington Monthly, The U.S. Centre at the London School of Economics, and National Public Radio.


Peer-Reviewed Articles


2023. "Place, Race, and the Geographic Politics of White Grievance," with Ryan Dawkins, Zoe Nemerever, and Francesca Verville, Political Behavior


2023. Of Rural Resentment and Storming Capitols: An Investigation of the Geographic Contours of Support for Political Violence in the United States,with Arif Memovic and Olyvia Christley, Political Behavior


2023. “Talk Local to Me: Assessing the Heterogeneous Effects of Localistic Appeals," with Richard Burke, American Politics Research


2022. “Place-based Resentment in Contemporary U.S. Elections: The Individual Sources of America's Urban-Rural Divide," with Nicholas F. Jacobs, Political Research Quarterly


2021. “Promoting Voter Turnout: an Unanticipated Impact of Early-Childhood Preventive Interventions," with John Holbein, Catherine Bradshaw, Nicholas Ialongo, and Jill Rabinowitz, Prevention Science

2021. “Place, Candidate Roots, and Voter Preferences in an Age of Partisan Polarization: Observational and Experimental Evidence," Political Geography


2020. “Staying in Place: Federalism and the Political Economy of Place Attachment," with Nicholas F. Jacobs, Publius: The Journal of Federalism


2020. “Us Over Here Versus Them Over There … Literally: Measuring Place Resentment in American Politics,” Political Behavior


2020. “Information Valence and Evaluations of Congress and Individual Legislators: Experimental Evidence Regarding Negativity Bias in Politics” with H. Benjamin Ashton, Legislative Studies Quarterly


2019. “Experimental Evidence on the Relationship Between Place-based Appeals and Voter Evaluations," with Nicholas F. Jacobs, Political Research Quarterly


White Papers


2024. "Voter Access and Ballot Security in Utah," UVU Gary R. Herbert Institute for Public Policy, with Mikelle Dahl.


2023. “Faction is the (Only Viable) Future for the Democratic Party,” The Niskanen Center, with Robert P. Saldin.


2023. “American Electoral Politics is Dominated by the Rural-Urban Divide. What Factors Explain It? And Can Policy Intervention Ameliorate It?,” UVU Gary R. Herbert Institute for Public Policy.


2021. “Local Beats, National Consequences: The Link Between Local News And American Democratic Health,” The Niskanen Center, with Robert P. Saldin and Richard Burke.


2021. “Understanding Strategic Capacity in Constituency-Based Organizations”, SNF Agora Institute/Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, with Lynsy Smithson-Stanley, Jane Booth-Tobin, and Hahrie Han


2021. “Gone Country: Why Democrats Need to Play in Rural America, and How They Can Do It Again,” The Niskanen Center, with Robert P. Saldin.



Selected Works In Progress


“The (Asymmetric) Performativity of Geographic Polarization”


“Rural Resentment and Attitudes Toward Public Land Management"


"Place Resentment in the United Kingdom”


"What Matters for Americans' Evaluations of Acts of Political Violence?"


"Competitiveness, Resentment, and Polarization"


Dissertation (defended 2020)


DIVIDED BY PLACE: THE ENDURING GEOGRAPHIC FAULT LINES OF AMERICAN POLITICS

Committee: Nicholas Winter (UVa), Paul Freedman (UVa), Justin Kirkland (UVa), Katherine Cramer (Wisconsin-Madison)


My dissertation project builds upon social identity theory and other group-based models of social behavior to demonstrate the continued relevance of geographic identities in American electoral politics. To this end, I argue that powerful emotional attachments to geographic sites can serve as the basis for social identity, or how we understand ourselves and our place in society. These place-based identities are important politically as they easily serve as a conduit to political action, in large part due to the fundamentally geographic nature of American representational and governmental systems. In this dissertation, I develop a unified theory of place and political behavior, while focusing empirically on the role of place in American electoral politics and representation. I show that politicians appeal to place frequently in the form of political advertising on the campaign trails, as well as when cultivating their “digital homestyles” online once in office. Furthermore, I provide evidence that these appeals are effective, that voters report having place-based preferences regarding their representatives, and that these preferences are moderated by the strength of individual voters’ sense of place. Finally, using nationally representative survey data, I provide evidence that place consciousness (aka “place resentment”) explains attitudes toward President Trump and vote choice in the 2018 midterm elections, even after accounting for the impacts of other attitudes (including racial attitudes) and demographic criteria (such as ideological and partisan identity).



Data


Replication data for much of my published research is available on the Harvard Dataverse (please search there, if interested). For data pertaining to any of my other published research, please shoot me and email and I will happily provide it: kalmunis@live.com