Meet Nathan Kalmoe

Posted by on Apr 26, 2016 in Cover Stories | 0 comments



Nathan Kalmoe, will join the Manship School as a tenure-track assistant-professor in political communication. His teaching and research interests are in U.S. politics integrate public opinion, communication, psychology, history and research methods. His work has appeared in Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Communication, Political Psychology, and Political Behavior and Political Research Quarterly. His work often involves communication experiments and innovative measures linking partisanship and aggression in the U.S. and abroad. Kalmoe did his undergraduate work—in journalism and political science—at the University of Wisconsin and earned his master’s and doctorate in political science at the University of Michigan. He also served as a postdoc in the School of Media & Public Affairs at George Washington University.


Q:  Can you tell me a little more about your research (specific areas or issues you’re concerned with)?

A:   I study political behavior with a focus on communication effects, psychology, and history, mostly in the U.S. My experiments, surveys, and media content analysis often examine contingent
effects of messages that depend on audience traits, often partisanship or aggression. Some recent projects include testing violent political metaphor effects on partisan polarization, how
American flag imagery influences vote choice, and the role of the partisan press in mobilizing violence during the American Civil War.

Q:   What drew you to this sort of research?

A:   I’ve always wanted to understand why people think the way they do, and politics has been a passion since middle school, so it’s a natural fit. I like the dynamism of political communication and
the potential it holds for making change in the world. Activism in college helped blend these ideas together to motivate this direction, though I prefer to keep advocacy out of my professional

Q:   What practical and scholarly impact do you foresee your research having in political communication?

A:   For practical influence, I like to investigate subtle, common message forms that have surprising impacts. Mild violent metaphors and American flags are ubiquitous in politics, but they also
have potent effects. My work has been cited recently to help understand how communication relates to bursts of campaign violence. With scholarship, my work brings together disciplines and
methods in new ways, including important human dynamics of conflict and aggression. I prefer to stray from well-worn research paths in pursuit of promising but unusual ideas, though my
goal is always to return to the field with persuasive evidence for novel contributions for others to take up with me.

Q:   What research project are you currently working on?

A:    I literally just finished a book on liberal/conservative identification in public opinion with Don Kinder, and I’m working on a second book about partisanship and violence during the Civil
War, with connections to the present day. Other projects examine online news-seeking behavior in Pakistan and the U.S. about drone strikes, and links between use of violent campaign
metaphors and candidate ideological extremity.

Q:   What drew you to the LSU Manship School and what most excites you about this position?

A:    The people. Manship has an outstanding core of political communication experts, and I like the interdisciplinary element of working with great scholars from many communication fields. The
Political Science department is full of excellent people as well, and I’m looking forward to working with LSU’s strong undergrads and grads. It’s an embarrassment of riches. I’m also excited
about returning to a flagship state school with a vibrant campus (and sports!).

Q:   Are you looking forward to teaching any particular classes at the Manship School? If so, which ones?

A:   Research design is one of my favorite topics. It teaches how to make valid inferences about cause & effect and how one situation generalizes to others. That’s valuable for democratic citizenship
and all professions, not just in scholarly projects. I like the challenge of introducing these ideas to students because of how eye-opening it can be. It’s a whole new way of seeing the world.

Q:   How would you describe your teaching style?

A:   Low-key, casual, occasionally dead-pan humor if you’re paying attention. I like variety and interactivity, so I rotate through different learning modes — lecture, discussions, games, videos,
student presentations. Even I get bored if I just talk the whole time! My goal is to reach students at all interest levels and ability, which I think about in terms of providing layers of knowledge
and skill-building.

Q:   Did you always plan to pursue a career in academia? Tell me a little about your career trajectory.

A:    I enjoy trying to figure things out, so something intellectual was always in the cards for me. I knew I wanted to be an academic about half way through college, when I learned researchers
could predict who voters were going to choose even better than the voters themselves. I went straight into grad school, took a great post-doc out in DC, taught for two years at a Midwestern
liberal arts college, and here I am.

Q:   What is your favorite television show, movie, etc. about politics or political campaigns?

A:    Game of Thrones is pretty good politics, with shifting checks and balances on each character’s ambitions. Veep is hilarious. For movies, lots: Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln,’ ‘Being There,’ ‘Doctor
Strangelove,’ ‘Battle of Algiers,’ ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ Ian McKellen’s ‘Richard III.’ For media politics, ‘Good Night & Good Luck’ and ‘All the President’s Men.’

Q:   What is currently the most played song on your phone/favorite playlist? (No judgment so be honest!)

A:   Since I often employ quantitative methods, I pulled up my iTunes to give you a better measure. Pixies “Where is My Mind” (86 plays), followed by “London Calling” by The Clash (66 plays). I
like to play guitar or bass along with my favorite bands, so that partly explains the frequency. (And they’re just great.)