Georgia Kernell

Assistant Professor of Political Science


Biography

Georgia Kernell's research spans the areas of comparative politics, quantitative and formal methodology, and American politics. She is currently writing a book about how party organization affects electoral success in parliamentary systems. Kernell is also working on several projects that examine the institutions regulating party diversity, the normative implications of party organizations for representation, strategic party ambiguity, and how political information shapes consumer sentiment.

Current Research

Strategic Party Heterogeneity. Candidates from the same party often adopt different policy positions, yet existing models of electoral competition typically assume that parties are made up of a homogeneous set of like-minded politicians.  Kernell’s research models the strategic decision by political parties to field a more or less heterogeneous set of candidates. She finds that in two-party competition, there is a unique level of party heterogeneity that maximizes a party's chance of winning the election. Parties with platforms positioned closer to the median voter should field a more cohesive set of candidates; those that are farther away should be more heterogeneous. The model has important implications for party discipline in the legislature, polarization, and voter uncertainty. 

A Tale of Two Constituencies: Candidates’ Tradeoffs in Responding to Interests of Party Members and the General Electorate. Drawing on original data collected for her dissertation, Kernell examines various countries’ political parties and their candidates as they compete for a party’s nomination or for a seat in the general election. Acknowledging that politicians face an inherent tradeoff between responding to the interests of their parties' core constituents and appealing to potential new voters, her research argues that candidates are most successful when they adhere more closely to the preferences of their parties' core constituents in parties or electoral systems that institute intraparty competition.

The Macro and Micro Foundations of Economic Monitoring: 1979-2010. Are people more likely to base their predictions for the economy on retrospective evaluations or prospective information? A case for the former emphasizes the high (arguably, prohibitive) costs of prospective information; an argument for the latter asserts simply that rational expectations agents will consume that information that provides them with the most accurate forecasts. Rather than contrasting retrospective with prospective, this project allows for the value and costs of prospective information to vary over time as well as across individuals, with results showing that heterogeneity is preserved and even extended during periods when economic news is plentiful.

Selected Publications

Articles

Kernell, G. 2013. Political party organizations, civic representation, and participation. In Representation: Elections and Beyond, ed. by J. Nagel and R. Smith. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Kernell, G. 2009. Giving orders to districts: Estimating voter distributions with national election returns. Political Analysis 17(3): 215–35.

Kernell, G., with J. Huber and E. Leoni. 2005. Institutional context, cognitive resources and party attachments across democracies. Political Analysis 13(4): 365–86.