John J. Cho

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Pre-Doctoral Fellow

Center for the Study of American Politics (CSAP)/Tobin Center for Economic Policy

Yale University

Curriculum Vitae

Google Scholar


Published Works

  1. "The Importance of Breaking Even: How Local and Aggregate Returns Make Politically Feasible Policies." (with Alan S. Gerber, Gregory A. Huber, and Patrick D. Tucker). 2023. British Journal of Political Science, pp. 1-18.

    Policies that promote the common good may be politically infeasible if legislators representing ‘losing’ constituencies are punished for failing to promote their district's welfare. We investigate how varying the local and aggregate returns to a policy affects voter support for their incumbent. In our first study, we find that an incumbent who favours a welfare-enhancing policy enjoys a discontinuous jump in support when their district moves from losing to at least breaking even, while the additional incremental political returns for the district doing better than breaking even are modest. This feature of voter response, which we replicate, has significant implications for legislative politics generally and, in particular, how to construct politically feasible social welfare-enhancing policies. In a second study, we investigate the robustness of this finding in a competitive environment in which a challenger can call attention to a legislator's absolute and relative performance in delivering resources to their district.

  2. "Do Elite Appeals to Negative Partisanship Stimulate Citizen Engagement?" (with Mia Costa and Dartmouth undergraduate students). 2022. The Forum 20(1): 135–153.

    Scholars have extensively studied whether campaign attack advertisements—messages that attack individual candidates—mobilize or demobilize voters with mixed results. We argue that group-oriented partisan affect in campaigns—messages about the parties in general—is just as important given increasing trends of affective polarization. We use two survey experiments, one right before the 2020 presidential election and the other before the subsequent Georgia Senate runoff election, to examine the effects of partisan rhetoric on several measures of civic engagement. In the presidential election, neither positive partisan, negative partisan, nor personal apartisan appeals had a statistically significant effect on voters’ enthusiasm, likelihood to volunteer, or likelihood to seek out more information about engaging in the election. In the second study, negative partisan appeals led registered voters in Georgia to report much higher levels of enthusiasm about their preferred candidate, but this result was driven by Republicans only. The findings contribute new insights about electoral context and asymmetric affective polarization to the literature documenting the mobilizing effects of negativity in campaigns.

Under Review

  1. "Descriptive Representation or Partisan Representation? Examining Trade-Offs among Asian Americans." (First author, with Mia Costa and Yusaku Horiuchi). [Presentation at 2022 MPSA]

    Do voters want representatives who share their race, ethnicity, or partisanship? We examine this question with a focus on Asian Americans who face trade-offs between descriptive (i.e., Asian American or “pan-ethnic”) and partisan representation, as well as trade-offs involving “co-ethnic” (e.g., Korean for Korean) and “cross-ethnic” (e.g., Indian for Korean) descriptive representation. We find that when Asian Americans are asked about collective representation in Congress, they prioritize increased co- ethnic and pan-ethnic legislators over co-partisan legislators. However, in a competitive electoral setting, they often trade off race/ethnicity for partisanship. Further analysis shows that Asian Americans are sometimes willing to cross party lines to vote for a co-ethnic candidate but never for a cross- or pan-ethnic candidate. These findings shed light on the importance of considering heterogeneous preferences along ethnicities within the same racial "in-groups," such as Asian Americans, a heavily understudied and heterogeneous group in American politics.

  2. "Fact-Value Disagreements about Threats to Electoral Integrity: Beliefs about Importance and Prevalence of Fraudulent, Uncounted, and Foregone Votes in the 2020 Election." (Second author, with Gregory A. Huber, Scott E. Bokemper, Alan S. Gerber, William Brady, Killian McLoughlin, Molly J. Crockett). [Presentation at 2023 APSA]

    In three survey experiments conducted before, during, and after the 2020 Election, we investigated subject beliefs about the frequency of different threats to election integrity and their emotional reactions to these problems. In these studies, we assessed beliefs about and reactions to counting fraudulent votes (fraudulent), failing to count legitimately cast ballots (uncounted), and causing those who were eligible to vote to forgo doing so (foregone). On average, Republicans believe the first two types of errors are both more frequent and more troublesome than do Democrats, with the opposite pattern for forgone votes. Over time, these partisan gaps in beliefs grow only for frequency of fraudulently counted ballots, while Republicans becoming relatively more concerned about the seriousness of all types of errors. These results hold in a vignette describing the same errors with multiple features (Study 2) and when respondents had to choose ex ante between election rules (Study 3). Overall, these three studies contribute to a better understanding of voter beliefs about and reactions to potential threats to election security.

Works in Progress

  1. "Gloating Villain: Two Field Experiments of the Effect of Anger on Turnout" (with Al Fang, Greg A. Huber, and Alan S. Gerber).

  2. "Who Stands Next to Whom? Voting Lines and Political Polarization." (First author, with Michael Herron and Daniel Smith). [Presentation at 2023 CSAP Summer Workshop]

    We study voting lines in Florida during early in-person voting and on Election Day, focusing on who stands next to whom at the polls using voter check-in data. The extent of geographic sorting and political polarization in the United States means that voters who cast their ballots on Election Day likely stand next to individuals who have similar partisanship. That is not as true of early voters, though, as they can choose from among the early voting polling location in their counties. This provides us with an opportunity to investigate the consequences of partisan polarization for possible political dialogue by voters standing in line to vote. We consider whether lines reinforce polarization or provide an opportunity for discussion of partisans with different opinions.

  3. "Evaluating Asian American Candidates: The Effect of Ethnicity on Stereotypes" (First author, with Yusaku Horiuchi and Mia Costa).

    As Asian Americans have become the fastest growing racial group in the United States, political candidates of Asian descent have also become increasingly common. I investigate how perceptions of Asian-ethnic American candidate’s characteristics and stereotypes change depending on the race or ethnicity of the respondent or candidate. I find that certain characteristics, like gender and partisan strength, are associated with Indian American candidates, while other characteristics, like partisanship and ideology, are associated with Vietnamese American candidates. Additionally, I find that co-ethnicity between the candidate and the respondent also plays an important role in determining certain characteristic expectations, such as education or strength of partisanship. Furthermore, stereotypes commonly associated with Asian Americans such as the model minority, forever foreigner, or apolitical, also change dependent on the respondent and candidate race and ethnicity. This provides mixed evidence for continuing to use non-specific models such as the Stereotype Content Model in evaluating Asian American candidate stereotypes.

About this website: This website uses the "minimal theme" by Steve Smith. The design for this website is heavily inspired by and uses code from Shiro Kuriwaki and Jeremiah Cha.