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Christy Cahill


  • Ph.D. Political Science, University of California, Davis
  • (Expected Graduation: June 2017)
  • B.A. Political Science, International Studies, English, University of Iowa, 2010


Primary Field: Comparative Politics
Secondary Field: Political Methodology
PhD expected June 2017

Research Focus

My dissertation focuses on the causes and consequences of party policy ambiguity for European political parties. The first chapter examines the incentives for parties to present ambiguous policy positions to the electorate. I find that worsening economic conditions and institutional factors influence parties to present more ambiguous policy positions to the electorate. I also find evidence that private campaign contributions to political parties incentivize parties to present increasingly ambiguous policy positions. My second chapter focuses on the corresponding electoral consequences of policy ambiguity. I find that parties with ambiguous policy positions are increasingly punished in vote-shares as the effective number of parties in a system increases. Finally, I examine the attributes that affect how individuals evaluate policy ambiguity. In particular, I look at how political sophistication and socioeconomic status affect voters' evaluations of party policy ambiguity. I supplement the three quantitative chapters with a chapter based on interviews with Members of Parliament in England and Germany, in which MPs describe the conditions under which they were strategically ambiguous or clear to voters about their parties' policy positions.

Dissertation: "The Causes and Consequences of Policy Ambiguity for European Political Parties"

Dissertation Committee Composition Jim Adams (Chair), Walt Stone, Matthew Shugart, Ethan Scheiner

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