My research broadly deals with electoral accountability and political polarization. I have been involved in a number of projects that seek to determine how citizens react to the actions of elected officials in an environment where political attitudes are increasingly influenced by overlapping social identities.

My dissertation, "Empathy and Electoral Accountability," addresses the topic of political compassion. I argue that prior scholarship has not paid enough attention to perceptions that a politician truly cares for others, which are of particular importance to crucial swing voters. I also develop a classification scheme for the sources of commonality between citizens and politicians, including shared experience, shared emotion, and shared identity. These connections are critical in proving to citizens that a politician is truly empathetic and deserving of support.

Beyond my dissertation research, I have been involved in research projects seeking to understand how Americans respond to a president who backs down from a foreign adversary. I have published two articles on this topic in The Journal of Politics. I am also working with Dr. Lilliana Mason on a paper that argues transitory self-esteem (such as a sudden drop or increase) is linked directly with the strength of one’s social identities.

Finally, I am working on a number of projects in the field of survey methodology. Working with Zack Scott and Mike Hanmer, we developed an honesty pledge that significantly reduced vote overreporting in the 2014 election (published in Electoral Studies). I also worked as the Research Methodology Fellow with the Washington Post’s Polling Division in 2018 and am currently working with them on a paper that identifies the most accurate likely voter models. Furthermore, drawing from my experience working in electoral accountability, I am developing research that examines the impact of using hypothetical politicians as opposed to real ones in survey vignettes. I argue that prior scholarship has not adequately balanced the advantages of these competing approaches, potentially limiting the scope of inference one can draw from these studies. A manuscript from this research was recently published in the International Journal of Public Opinion Research.

For more information, visit my personal website:


Croco, Sarah, Michael Hanmer, and Jared McDonald. 2019. “At What Cost? Reexamining Audience Costs in Realistic Settings.” (Forthcoming at The Journal of Politics).

McDonald, Jared. “Avoiding the Hypothetical: Why ‘Mirror Experiments’ are an Essential Part of Survey Research.” (Online in the International Journal of Public Opinion Research).

McDonald, Jared, David Karol, and Lilliana Mason. 2019. “‘An Inherited Money Dude from Queens County’: How Unseen Candidate Characteristics Affect Voter Perceptions.” (Online in Political Behavior).

McDonald, Jared, Sarah Croco, and Candace Turitto. 2019. “Teflon Don or Politics as Usual? An Examination of Foreign Policy Flip-Flops in the Age of Trump.” The Journal of Politics 81(2): 757-766.

McDonald, Jared, Zachary Scott, and Michael Hanmer. 2017. “Using Self-Prophecy to Combat Vote Overreporting on Public Opinion Surveys.” Electoral Studies 50: 137-141.

McDonald, Jared. “Who Cares? Exploring Candidate Compassion in the Eyes of Voters.” (Under revise and resubmit at Political Behavior).

Croco, Sarah, Jared McDonald, and Candace Turitto. “Making them Pay: Using the Norm of Honesty to Generate Costs for Political Lies.” (Under review).

Bryant, Lisa, Michael Hanmer, Alauna Safarpour and Jared McDonald. “Statewide Field Experiments Examining Efforts to Increase Registration and Turnout.” (Under review)


“Barriers facing youth political participation in America” (with Michael Hanmer). Workshop on Data-Driven Strategies to Promote Youth Turnout. Cambridge, MA. August 29, 2018.  

“Examining the Accuracy of Likely Voter Models” (with Scott Clement, Emily Guskin, Mark Blumenthal, Seth Brohinsky, and Dean Williams). American Association of Public Opinion Research Annual Conference. May 17, 2018.

“Hi, My Name Is…Examining the impact of sponsorship on public opinion surveys” (with Scott Clement, Emily Guskin, Seth Brohinsky, Raphael Nishimura, and Dean Williams). American Association of Public Opinion Research Annual Conference. May 17, 2018.

“Stagnant America: Self-Esteem, Downward Mobility, and Social Polarization” (with Lilliana Mason). Midwest Political Science Association Annual Conference. April 6, 2017.


Spring 2019 (Professor Richard Engstrom): Seminar in American Politics: Local Politics and Government

Spring 2017 - Fall 2018: Research Methods for Undergraduate Research Assistants.

Fall 2016 (Professor Stella Rouse): Introduction to American Government.

Areas of Interest

  • Political participation
  • Linkages between public opinion and public policy
  • Survey methodology
  • Quantitative analysis


  • Degree Type
    Degree Details
    Government and Politics, University of Maryland, 2019
  • Degree Type
    Degree Details
    Government and Politics, University of Maryland, 2015
  • Degree Type
    Degree Details
    Political Science, The George Washington University, 2009

Research Topics

  • American Politics
  • Methodology
Mentor, 2014-2017, Undergraduate - Graduate Mentoring Program, BSOS, University of Maryland
Community Outreach Coordinator, 2013-2015, GVPT Graduate Student Association
Jared McDonald
1147 Tydings
Government and Politics Department
jared87 [at]
Office Hours
By appointment