Application Materials

I employ advanced computational methods to answer important questions about American political institutions, with a particular interest in Congress, political parties, and primary elections. More specifically, my research agenda focuses on how institutions: (1) influence political discourse and (2) impact electoral success. In my dissertation, I address a critical assumption about the state of modern congressional campaigns. Politicians are increasingly presumed to run on the same party-driven platforms, offering voters the same choices throughout the country. However, I argue that this understanding of campaigns misses the mark. I demonstrate that—even though contemporary House elections attend more to national issues than before—candidates still often ``go local.” To that end, I also show that existing theories on campaign behavior must be updated to better reflect what locally-oriented campaigning looks like in today’s elections. I am eager and able to teach classes on quantitative methods and American politics.

Please find application materials, including a research statement, CV, teaching statement, and complete student evaluations via the links below. If you have any questions about these materials, please contact me at rachsur@live.unc.edu

Research Statement

My research employs advanced quantitative methods and original data collections to offer new perspectives on established theories about American political institutions. In single-authored and collaborative work, I explore candidate emergence, success, and campaign behavior in congressional elections. My dissertation extends this research agenda by assessing whether candidates still run on locally-oriented issues in today’s ``nationalized” campaign environment. Most recently, I have taken an interest in understanding how shifts in electoral trends impact legislative outcomes.