B. Dan Wood

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Professor and Cornerstone Fellow of

RECENT RESEARCH

Party Polarization in America —A book on this topic is currently forthcoming with Cambridge University Press. I am currently in the process of extending this work by focusing on how presidents have affected modern polarization. Most past research has focused on Congress and the political parties, basically ignoring the presidency. Yet, my ongoing work suggests that presidents are integral to the evolution of polarization, both between the political parties in government and among partisans in the electorate.

 

Presidential Saber Rattling —This large-scale project constructed measures of hostile presidential rhetoric directed toward other countries using both electronic and human coding.These data form the basis for a book with Cambridge University Press entitled Presidential Saber Rattling: Causes and Consequences (2012). This book evaluates the nature of presidential foreign policy representation using presidential saber rattling as an object of scientific analysis. It also evaluates the consequences of presidential saber rattling for both domestic and foreign audiences. The "take-away" themes from the book are the following. 1) Modern presidents are not the pure “statesmen” representatives envisioned by the Founders, but are driven by a variety of domestic factors, including reelection, partisanship, and media frenzies. 2) Presidents benefit domestically from their threats through increased approval ratings, especially among independents and opposing partisans. However, presidential threats also adversely affect the economy. 3) Presidential threats toward other nations are largely ineffective in producing compliance with U.S. interests, and often have the undesirable effect of provoking foreign adversaries.