Conor M. Dowling

Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Mississippi

About Conor

Dowling's broad research interests are in American Politics, where he studies both mass and elite political behavior with a substantive focus on issues of electoral competition, representation, and public policy, campaign finance law and health policy in particular. He is also interested in how party elites shape candidacies and election outcomes, how voters process political information, the experience of and reaction to women as candidates, and the manner in which people evaluate politicians involved in political scandals. 


In the News

"Will Hillary Clinton's Flip-Flops Hurt Her? Maybe Not," Conor M. Dowling (with David Doherty and Michael G. Miller), The Washington Post, October 15, 2017.
Conor M. Dowling quoted by Henry Farrell, "We Know That Evidence-Based Medicine Works. So Why Don't Politicians Support it?" The Washington Post, October 3, 2017.
Conor M. Dowling quoted by Laura Reston, "Does Hillary Clinton Know How to Attack Donald Trump?" New Republic, May 20, 2016.
"Should We be Told Who Funds Political Attack Ads?," Conor M. Dowling, Pacific Standard, September 29, 2014.
Conor M. Dowling quoted by Dylan Matthews, "We Asked Science if Eliot Spitzer Could Win. It Said Yes." The Washington Post, July 8, 2013.
Conor M. Dowling quoted by Costas Panagopoulos, "Elections Test; The Supreme Court Should Rule That Clean Election Laws Don't Have a Chilling Effect" Los Angeles Times, March 28, 2011.


"Do Party Chairs Think Women and Minority Candidates Can Win? Evidence from a Conjoint Experiment," (with David Doherty and Michael G. Miller), forthcoming.

An experiment on a national sample of local party chairs shows that while they do not downgrade the electoral chances of women candidates, they do view black and Latina/o candidates more negatively, and this penalty cannot be easily explained by other factors such as local conditions. 

"Attacks without Consequence? Anonymity, Disclosure, and the Effectiveness of Negative Advertising" (with Amber Wichowsky). American Journal of Political Science 59, no. 1 (2015): 19-36.

Evidence from three experiments demonstrates that candidates can benefit from having a party or group “do their dirty work” of airing negative ads, but particularly if a group does, and that the most likely explanation for why this is the case is that many voters simply do not connect candidates to the ads sponsored by parties and groups. 

"Unhealthy Politics: The Battle over Evidence-Based Medicine" (with Eric M. Patashnik and Alan S. Gerber) (Princeton University Press, 2017).

Draws on public opinion surveys, physician surveys, case studies, and political science models to explain how political incentives, polarization, and the misuse of professional authority have undermined efforts to tackle the medical evidence problem and curb wasteful spending. It also proposes sensible solutions that can lead to better, more efficient health care for all of us.

"Can Information Alter Perceptions about Women's Chances of Winning Office? Evidence from a Panel Study" Politics and Gender 11, no. 1 (2015): 55-88.

While a large majority of voters believe (incorrectly) that women are less likely than men to win elections, providing voters with information about women’s success as candidates can shift their views—and for most, the effect endured well beyond immediate receipt of the information. 

"Does Public Financing Chill Political Speech? Exploiting a Court Injunction as a Natural Experiment" (with Ryan D. Enos, Anthony Fowler, and Costas Panagopoulos). Election Law Journal 11, no. 3 (2012): 302-315.

Contrary to the view of the Supreme Court in its McComish (2011) ruling, we find no empirical evidence that campaign finance laws chill private political speech. More generally, our analysis demonstrates the value of exploiting court injunctions as natural experiments to assess the causal effects of laws.

"Are Financial or Moral Scandals Worse? It Depends" (with David Doherty and Michael G. Miller). Political Science and Politics 44, no. 4 (2011): 749-757.

Exposure to information about fictitious scandals suggests that all else equal, voters view politicians embroiled in financial scandals more harshly than those caught up in sex scandals, and an abuse of power by the politician amplifies the effect of both.