Hannah Wilson

Hannah Wilson

Fields of Study: American Politics, Comparative Politics



Areas of interest: American political institutions, legislative politics, quantitative methods, network analysis

I’m a Ph.D. candidate in American politics. I work primarily on U.S. state politics, with a substantive focus on legislatures and representation. My other research interests include legislative behavior, quantitative methods, and network analysis – particularly network inference. I am originally from Indianapolis, Indiana and graduated with honors from Indiana University Bloomington in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and French.

While at Notre Dame, I’ve presented my work at conferences around North America, won numerous competitive grants, and most recently taught a course on American state politics during the spring 2020 semester. I’ve also led a variety of introductory classes on American politics, Comparative politics, and International relations and previously served as the teaching assistant for the graduate-level quantitative methods sequences in the Department of Political Science and Keough School of Global Affairs. You can find my published research in the peer-reviewed journal Political Analysis.

My dissertation explores the concepts of influence and informal hierarchy in U.S. state legislatures, a consequence of representatives’ pervasive use of cue-taking as a low-cost source of information. Using temporal cosponsorship data from eight US states, this project comprehensively defines and models this latent hierarchy, aiming to answer three broad questions: 1) what qualities makes a legislator influential in this process, and how does that differ across political context?, 2) how does variation in state-level institutions impact the utility and accuracy of cue-taking as a behavioral heuristic, and to what extent does the widespread indulgence of this process result in policy outcomes at odds with public opinion?, and 3) given that legislators the relative influence of their colleagues as a metric to condition their decisions, to what extent do voters use it their evaluation of political candidates? In other words, do voters prefer candidates who are powerful – even if they incur other representational costs – to those who are not?