I am an Assistant Professor of Political Science at SUNY New Paltz where I teach classes on a range of topics in American politics and public policy as well as social science research methods.  I serve as an Associate Editor at Urban Affairs Review where I edit the Urban Affairs Forum -- a website that publishes accessible articles on urban affairs research. I am also a contributing author to Ed Greenberg and Benjamin Page’s introductory American politics textbook The Struggle for Democracy.

My research broadly revolves around ideas related to the geography of American politics with an emphasis on local government, budgetary politics, public policy, public goods, and social behavior.  Most of my work involves the use of geographic information systems (GIS), mapping, point pattern analysis, and other spatial and non-spatial statistical methods.  I have published on a range of topics including the spatial relationships that exist between cities and how they impact budgetary decisions, 311 programs, and use of spatially-weighted survey metrics (Full CV). You can find my work in American Politics Research, Political Geography, Urban Affairs Review, and Social Science Quarterly.

I currently have three ongoing projects:

  • Teachers, Trees, and Trash. This project is focused on better understanding the spatial dynamics of goods distribution in cities. In particular, I am interested in how goods distribution impacts neighborhoods and the people who live in them.
  • Living with Inequality. Jeff Lyons (Boise State) and I are trying to better understand what drives perceptions and attitudes about income inequality. Unlike other research, our focus is on how spatial context (e.g. neighborhood income and racial-diversity) impacts these perceptions and attitudes.
  • Politics on Display. Anand Sokhey (CU Boulder), Todd Makse (Florida International), and I have completed a book manuscript that examines the causes and effects of campaign yard sign display.

I can be reached at sminkoff@gmail.com.

Updates & Notes

Research Guide Update

I have updated my Guide to Writing Research Papers in Political Science.  The guide addresses a range of topics. After summarizing the six parts of a research paper, I offer some suggestions on how one goes about selecting and refining a research question. I then discuss the development and writing of each of the sections of the research paper (including sections on variables and the data matrix) and conclude with a section on sourcing. Along the way I discuss common problems that students face when writing a research paper and offer some suggestions about how to overcome them.

You can download the newest version here.

Living With Inequality

Jeff Lyons and I have published “Living with Inequality: Neighborhood Income Diversity and Perceptions of the Income Gap” in the journal American Politics Research.  Here is the abstract:

This article explores whether the places where people live—and specifically the diversity of incomes where people live—influence views about income inequality. Using a unique survey of New York City that contains geographic identifiers and questions about attitudes toward inequality, coupled with a rich array of Census data, we assess the degree to which the income diversity within spatially customized neighborhood boundaries influences beliefs about inequality. We find consistent evidence that attitudes about inequality are influenced by the places where people live—those who are exposed to more income diversity near their homes perceive larger gaps between the rich and everybody else, and are more likely to believe that the gap should be smaller. Moreover, this effect appears to be especially pronounced among those with lower educational attainment and at either end of the income spectrum.