- Political Communication
- News Media
- Public Opinion
- Presidential Discourse
- Religion and American Politics
My research focuses on political communication. It is anchored within the political communication, mass communication, and rhetoric traditions of the Communication discipline but draws widely from related literatures in political science, psychology, and history. Political communication—as a major subfield of Communication and an interdisciplinary subfield of Communication and Political Science—generally focuses on some combination of three key components of the political sphere: political elites, media, and the public. My three-part research program explores each of these components. Specifically, I employ methods ranging from quantitative content analysis and experiments to qualitative textual and rhetorical analysis to examine (a) how political elites communicate strategically to influence media coverage and public perceptions; (b) how news media cover political issues and transmit political messages; and (c) how public discourse and perceptions reflect political considerations. Thus far my examination of these issues has focused largely on various aspects of U.S. identity (e.g., national identity in times of war/crisis, religious identity, gender identity, racial identity) and/or on the quality of public discourse (e.g., on the focus of news coverage, on the presence of incivility in the public sphere). Whatever the topical focus, my work aims to make meaningful contributions to theory and to help audiences within and outside academe make sense of political issues central to the maintenance of democracy.