U-M Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science Mara Cecilia Ostfeld's article just won the award for the best paper this past year in Political Behavior.

Here's the award citation:

This article extends work focusing on the increasing identification of blacks with the Democratic Party to appeals to Latinos. Mara Cecilia Ostfeld identifies several key mechanisms for the relationship between such appeals and changing white attitudes toward the parties, and then develops experiments to test those mechanisms.

The paper is an excellent example of the kind of normal science work the discipline needs more of, building on existing work but also pushing it in an important and meaningful direction. It was reasonable to imagine that the role of blacks in the Democratic party might be exceptional, or that polarization in general drives these patterns. Mara Cecilia Ostfeld’s contribution helps clarify our understanding of the developing party cleavages.

And here's the abstract of the article, so you can get a fuller sense of her award-winning work:

Ostfeld, M.C. The New White Flight?: The Effects of Political Appeals to Latinos on White Democrats. Polit Behav 41, 561–582 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-018-9462-8

One explanation for the post-1965 shift in the vote choice of White Americans posits that it was driven by a shift in the racial imagery of the two major parties. The growing role of Latinos in the Democratic Party has brought new changes in the racial groups associated with the parties. In this paper, I explore whether the increasing attention to Latinos in Democratic Party politics is having an effect similar to that which followed African-Americans political repositioning 50 years ago, and decreasing support for the Party among White Democrats. Drawing on three survey experiments, from two elections, I demonstrate that as White Democrats learn about Democratic outreach to Latinos, they become less supportive of Democrats. This pattern, I find, is driven by the effects that such information has on the racial prototypes associated with each party. All together, these findings point to a new phase of racial realignment in the American political system.  

Fun Fact: Mara shares this award this year with three Michigan PhDs -- Antoine Banks, Ismail White, and Brian McKenzie -- whose paper, Black Politics: How Anger Influences the Political Actions Blacks Pursue to Reduce Racial Inequalitywas the other recipient of the award this year.