About Me

Welcome! I am a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I earned my M.A. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2018 and my B.A. in Political Science and International Affairs from the University of Georgia in 2016. My work employs advanced computational methods to answer important questions about American political institutions, with a particular emphasis on Congress, political parties, and elite behavior. More specifically, my research seeks to understand how electoral dynamics impact policymaking in the U.S. House of Representatives. Most recently, my research has focused on how differences in gender and political experience affect candidate self-presentation in primary elections. This work is forthcoming in Political Research Quarterly.

In my dissertation, I investigate if and how candidates discuss important issues-of-the-day like the Opioid Epidemic and the #MeToo movement in terms of their local constituency. To assess this association, I employ an original data set of text on campaign position taking. This collection of over 29,000 policy positions from nearly 4,000 candidate websites constitutes the first comprehensive data set of congressional campaign text on issue positions. My dissertarion research is supported by the Social Science Research Council’s Social Data Dissertation Fellowship, which funds projects that make creative use of social data and employ cutting edge methods to investigate democracy.

I am on the 2020-2021 academic job market. Feel free to contact me at rachsur@live.unc.edu