Billboard Voter Mobilization Research

This research presents the design and results of a voter mobilization field-experiment conducted during the 2019 election in conjunction with To test the effect of non-partisan voter mobilization billboards fitted with Election Day information, maps of study areas in four states were overlaid with a grid (or “fishnet”) containing 3-mile by 3-mile cells. Cells were randomly selected to be in the treatment or control group.  All available billboards in the treatment cells that met certain criteria were purchased and fitted with a reminder to vote. Across the four states, 207 billboards were treated and 142 served as control billboards for the weeks leading up to Election Day. Results indicated that registered voters living in treated cells had a probability of voting that was higher than those living in control cells. The effect size was similar in magnitude to comparable mobilization treatments and was strongest among mid-propensity voters.  (Link to Paper)

Proximate Polity

People have the power to change where they live, where they work, where they vote, and where they spend their money.  This geographic uncertainty has important implications for the policies cities pursue as it impacts the relative value of local goods provision.  In this dissertation I examine how the potential movement of people within metropolitan areas influences developmental goods provision and production.

The proximate polity theory begins with the assumption that city officials aim to maximize the economic and political benefits of developmental policies while also minimizing the economic and political risks of policy failure.  Accordingly, local leaders strike this balance by anticipating how their policy choices are likely to influence the movement of people in and out of the jurisdiction.  In order to make this assessment, public officials must be keenly aware of who resides in nearby cities and also which policies nearby cities are engaging.  Because policy consequences do not end at the jurisdiction’s edge, leaders must also pay attention to how their policies will influence the political relationships that exist between themselves and other cities.

Using spatial statistics and network analysis tools, I test the theory on a dataset of 15 metropolitan areas across the United States.  I then focus in Colorado’s Front Range cities for a closer analysis that includes original survey data, time-space models of development policy over a 25 year period, and a dyadic analysis of intergovernmental developmental cooperation.

Papers from this Project: The Proximate Polity (UAR), From Competition to Cooperation (APR)

Neighborhood Spaces & Inequality

The Spaces in Your Neighborhood: Public Goods Quality and the Development of Social Capital | Drawing on a range of different literatures, this article identifies a link between neighborhood public goods context and the development of individual-level social capital.  The study utilizes a 2014 geocoded survey of New York City residents to connect respondent-observed neighborhood attributes to a social capital factor and its component variables.  Social capital and perceived public goods quality are analyzed using spatial analysis and regression models.  Results support a theory that how people evaluate and interact with their neighborhood goods context affects social interactions, behaviors, and attitudes—an effect that appears to be particularly strong among lower-income residents.  The results have implications for how people think about public goods provision: they show that variation in the implementation of local policy can have critical social externalities that play a vital role in civil society.  Read the paper.

Living with Inequality | Income inequality has risen steadily in recent decades, yet Americans’ political attitudes and perceptions of economic factors do not appear to have changed in response.  This raises the question of what drives perceptions and attitudes about inequality?  Jeff Lyons and I are exploring whether the places where people live – and specifically the diversity of incomes where people live – influence views about inequality.  Using my unique geo-coded survey of New York City, we find consistent evidence that attitudes about inequality are influenced by the places where we live – those who are exposed to more income diversity in their place of residence perceive larger gaps between the rich and everybody else and are more likely to believe that the gap should be smaller.  However, these contextual effects appear to be conditional upon racial distributions – as the percentage of non-whites increases, contextual income diversity more weakly informs the attitudes of whites. This work has recently been publish in American Politics Research.

Politics on Display

Political signs are one of the most conspicuous features of American campaigns, yet they have received relatively little scholarly attention. In a recently published book (Politics on Display, Oxford University Press), Todd Makse (Florida International), Anand Sokhey (CU Boulder), and I address a series of important questions about this familiar feature of electoral politics, documenting political life in residential areas with a comprehensive approach that spans multiple elections.  Focusing on diverse areas in battleground states, we combine observational and survey data into a geo-database that also includes demographic data, voter turnout data, and election results; we supplement our (several) community studies with nationally representative data, and other novel surveys of portions of the American public.  Together, we provide an unprecedented view and analysis of political communication and participation as it is tied to the spaces that citizens inhabit. We show that sign displays are fueled by individual and contextual attributes, and find that they exert a number of surprising effects. Against a backdrop of political polarization, our effort advances a new understanding of how everyday citizens actually experience campaigns, and provides important perspective on why many Americans insist on airing their views in public.

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Minkoff, Scott L. and Jeffrey Lyons. 2018. “Living With Inequality: Neighborhood Income Diversity and Perceptions of the Income Gap.” American Politics Research. Forthcoming.

Minkoff, Scott L. 2016. “NYC 311 A Tract-Level Analysis of Citizen–Government Contacting in New York City.” Urban Affairs Review 52.2: 211-246.

Makse, Todd, Scott L. Minkoff, and Anand E. Sokhey. 2014. “Networks, Context, and the Use of Spatially-Weighted Survey Metrics.” Political Geography 42: 79-91.

Minkoff, Scott L. 2013. “From Competition to Cooperation: A Dyadic Approach to Interlocal Agreements.” American Politics Research 41: 261-297.

Minkoff, Scott L. 2012. “The Proximate Polity: Spatial Context and Political Risk in Local Developmental Goods Provision.” Urban Affairs Review 48 (3): 354-388.

Minkoff, Scott L. 2009. “Minding Your Neighborhood: The Spatial Context of Local Redistribution.” Social Science Quarterly 90 (3): 516-37.


Makse, Todd, Scott L. Minkoff, and Anand E. Sokhey. 2019.  Politics on Display: Yard Signs and Politicization of Social Spaces. Oxford University Press.

Conference Papers and Papers Not Currently Under Review

Minkoff, Scott L. “The Spaces in Your Neighborhood: Linking Public Goods Provision with the Development of Social Capital”.  Paper presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association (Chicago, IL, April 16-19).

Makse, Todd, Scott L. Minkoff, and Anand E. Sokhey. “Putting Politics in Place: Defining the Neighborhood in Public Opinion Research.” Paper presented at 2015 Annual Meeting of American Political Science Association (San Franciscio, CA: September 2015).

Allen, Kristen, Adam Clayton, Seth Masket, Scott L. Minkoff, and Anand E. Sokhey.  “Office Space: A Geo-Spatial Analysis of the Effects of Field Offices on Voter Turnout.” Presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association. (Expanded version to be presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association).

Minkoff, Scott L. “The Effect of Neighborhood Conditions on Local Election Turnout.”  Presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association. (Expanded version to be presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association).

Minkoff, Scott L. 2013. “Gotham 311: Equitability, Representation, and Public Goods Quality in New York City.” Presented at the 2013 American Political Science Association Annual Meetings (Chicago, IL: August 29 – September 1, 2013).

Minkoff, Scott L. 2013. “Who Cares? Public Goods and Public Attention.”  Invited Talk: Florida State University’s School of Public Administration and Policy: April 26, 2013.

Minkoff, Scott L. 2013. “The Public Goods Shuffle: Policy Improvement and Intra-Metropolitan Migration Flows.”  Presented to the Columbia University American Politics Workshop: February 11, 2013.

Makse, Todd, Scott L. Minkoff, and Anand E. Sokhey.  2012. “Spatial Processes, Network Dynamics and the Use of Spatial Sampling Frames.”  Presented at the 5th Annual Political Networks Conference and Workshops: June 13-15, 2012. *Winner of Best Poster.

Ryan, Josh and Scott L. Minkoff. 2012.  “The Appropriations Process as Policy Tool.”  Presented at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association.

Minkoff, Scott L. and Jeffrey Lyons. 2012. “Voting with Your (Fill in the Blank): The Effect of Exit Options on Mayoral Election Turnout.” Presented at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association.

Makse, Todd, Anand E. Sokhey, and Scott L. Minkoff. 2011. “Modeling Yard Sign ‘Wars’ with the Spatial Probit Model.” 28th Annual Summer Meeting, Society for Political Methodology, Princeton, NJ.

Minkoff, Scott L. 2011. “The Proximate Polity: Interlocal Development Cooperation in Colorado.”  Prepared for the 2011 Meeting of the Southern Political Science Association (New Orleans, LA: January 5-8).

Minkoff, Scott L. 2010. “The Proximate Polity: The Spatial Context of the Local Developmental Goods Provision.” Prepared for the 2010 American Political Science Association Annual Meetings (Washington, D.C.: September 2-5).

Makse, Todd, Anand Edward Sokhey, and Scott L. Minkoff. 2010. “Understanding Visible Political Participation: An Analysis of Yard Sign-Displays during the 2008 Presidential Election.” Prepared for the 2010 Western Political Science Association Annual Meetings and Exhibition (San Francisco, California: April 1-3) and the 2010 Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meetings (Chicago, Illinois: April 22-25).

Adler, E. Scott, Charles Cameron, and Scott L. Minkoff 2009. “Bill Support Rates: What Do They Tell Us about Theories of US Lawmaking.” Prepared for the 2009 American Political Science Association Annual Meetings (Toronto, Canada: September 3-6).

Minkoff, Scott L. “Minding Your Neighborhood: The Spatial Context of Local Redistribution.”  Prepared for the 2008 Western Political Science Association Annual Meetings (San Diego, California: March 20-22) and the 2008 Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meetings (Chicago, Illinois: April 3-6).