The question that lies at the center of most of my research is what effect do changes in a political party’s coalition have on that party’s subsequent behavior?

My dissertation and book project looks at the effect of the partisan realignment of college-educated voters to the Democratic Party and non-college-educated voters to the Republican Party on both parties’ positions on three issue areas: (1) LGBTQ+ rights; (2) environmental protection; and (3) economic regulation. This mixed-methods study finds that the education realignment has increased polarization and internal party agreement on LGBTQ+ rights and environmental protection by removing outliers in both parties on these issue areas; but has had less of a pronounced effect on position taking on economic regulation among both parties in Congress in recent decades.

In addition to my dissertation project, I am also interested in examining the effects of this realignment beyond the American Congress. I would like to see how this realignment has affected party position taking in American state legislatures.


Kersting, Joel B. 2021. “Schooling the Parties: The Effect of the Education Realignment on LGBTQ+ Party Position Taking in the U.S. House of Representatives.” Politics, Groups, and Identities.

Working Papers

“An Environmental Education: How the Education Realignment Polarized Congress on the Environment”

“Blue Dogs to New Dogs: The Transformation of Congressional Economic Moderates in the Democratic Party”

“Queer Friends and Foes: LGBTQ+ Interest Group Advocacy Under the Obama and Trump Administrations” with Maraam A. Dwidar & Nicholas C. D’Amico

“The Education Realignment in U.S. State Legislatures”