Jaclyn Kettler, Assistant Professor, has received The Christopher Mooney Dissertation Award for her dissertation, titled The Right to Party (Resources): Political Party Networks and Candidate Success. The Christopher Mooney Dissertation Award is a national award given by the American Political Science Association (APSA) State Politics and Policy Section for the best dissertation in American state politics and policy completed during the previous calendar year.
Dr. Kettler’s dissertation focuses on two major questions: How does the electoral organization of political parties vary across states? How does the position of candidates within the party affect their success? Dr. Kettler addresses these questions using social network analysis to study candidates’ relationships and the context around those relationships. She measures party networks with campaign finance transactions in seven states for the 2010 and 2012 state legislative elections. After a case study of Texas parties that establishes the validity of the approach, Dr. Kettler compares the structure of party networks across states. Although the party networks are relatively sparse in general, the results reveal that parties in states with competitive legislative chambers tend to be more connected. Finally, Dr. Kettler’s dissertation explores how the party structure influences candidates. By drawing upon Ronald S. Burt’s (1992, 2005) structural holes theory, she identifies influential actors and examines how their network position impacts their success in legislatures. She finds that influential candidates in the electoral party network are more likely to become a legislative leader in the following session, demonstrating an important link between electoral and legislative politics.