Earlier this month, I attended the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association (one of my fixtures, having attended it more or less every year for five years or so).
A trio of highlights–one thing I did, a couple of things I attended, and one thing I did not attend but later caught up on.
First, doing–I had the pleasure of presenting some work in progress by Cristian Vaccari and myself, where we ask “What Drives Politicians’ Online Popularity?” (the paper opens as a .doc here) on the basis of the same dataset underlying this previous paper. The panel, entitled “Campaigns, Elections & Technology” was one of those rare conference panels that had actual intellectual coherence to both the line-up of presenters and the discussion itself. Ben Epstein, Sounman Hong, and Christine B. Williams and Jeff Gulati all presented interesting papers. Betsy Sinclair did a great job as our respondent, and there was a good discussion with people in the audience afterwards, including Dave Karpf, Kevin Wallsten and others.
Second, attending–A couple of other panels I enjoyed were (1) “Mass Media and the Policy Process” were John Lovett and Frank Baumgartner presented a very strong paper asking when there is a single media agende, analyzing data over time, across issues, and between different outlets to show how media attention goes in and out of focus and (2) “Congressional Campaign Advertising” where a strong line-up examined various forms of strategic positioning vis-a-vis party brands, and the ways in which candidates and campaigns think about these choices and execute them.
Third, not doing, but catching up–I missed the presentation of a very interesting paper on “Career Concerns and the Behavior of Political Consultants in Congressional Elections” by Gregory J.Martin and Zachary Peskowitz from Stanford, but the paper can be downloaded here and it is a really neat piece of work that help advance our understanding of political consultants and the work they do.