Sharif Amlani

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Position Title
Ph.D. Candidate

661 Kerr Hall

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Davis. I am also a Graduate Student Researcher at the UC Center Sacramento.

My dissertation focuses on the influence of money in politics. It explores whether out-of-district contributors distort representation between U.S. House members and their constituents.

My current work also examines the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the 2020 election and vote-by-mail liberalization on turnout in the 2020 election. My past work explores gender in politics, cosponsorship, and congressional elections.

I use a variety of tools in my scholarship including R, causal inference, network analysis, and web scraping. I received my B.A. in political science from the University of New Mexico in 2015 and expect to graduate with my Ph.D. in 2022.

Research Focus

Congressional campaigns raised 8.7 billion dollars in the 2020 election – the most in American history. Further, campaign contributions increased almost 200 percent between 2008 and 2020. Even more compelling, eight out of every 10 dollars members of Congress receive originates from outside their congressional district. These statistics raise alarms about the state of American politics. Members rely on out-of-district donors (not their constituents) to meet the rising cost of political campaigns. Yet, they rely exclusively on their in-district constituency to vote them into office. If members cannot win an election without both money and votes, then which constituency do they serve?

My dissertation argues that members’ reelection fortunes are no longer dictated solely (or even primarily) by their territorial constituency. Instead, members appeal to a donor constituency composed of a broad network of out-of-district donors – the main financiers of congressional campaigns. In signaling these donors, I find evidence that out-of-district contributors distort representation between members and their constituents.

Education and Degree(s)
  • PhD, Political Science, University of California, Davis (expected June 2022)
  • BA, Political Science, University of New Mexico (2015)
  • Amlani, Sharif, and Carlos Algara. “Partisanship & Nationalization in American Elections: Evidence from Presidential, Senatorial, & Gubernatorial Elections in the U.S. Counties, 1872–2020.” Electoral Studies 73 (October 1, 2021): 102387.