University of Michigan professor of political science, Nicholas Valentino, and University of Michigan doctoral student, Kirill Zhirkov, received the Midwest Political Science Association award for Best Paper in Political Behavior for, "The Images in Our Heads: Race, Partisanship and Affective Polarization."

Professor Valentino's research interests are within the areas of American politics and methodology while Zhirkov's research interests include universal aspects of political behavior that connect American and comparative subfields.

Commendation from the Committee: Valentino and Zhirkov build on the insightful work by Lilliana Mason that affective polarization is driven by the increasing alignment of voters’ social identities with the partisan identity. This paper argues that the main driver of this process is the racial component of both social and partisan identity. The paper offers multiple tests and pushes forward the increasingly important literature on affective polarization.