Nathan Morse

Political Science Ph.D. Student Pennsylvania State University


I am a graduate student at Penn State specializing political methodology and American politics. I study the relationships between political, racial, and economic inequality. In particular, my research centers around political economy, police violence, and voting rights. My methodological focus is event history modeling, time series, and other time-related methods.

Aside from my research, I am the Website Editor for the Society for Political Methodology. I manage the Polmeth Paper Archive and the Society's Twitter account. I am also a TA for Quantitative Political Analysis (PLSC309H), an undergraduate methods course at Penn State.


Current Projects

Police, Violence, and Public Opinion: Linking Polling Practices to Current Events Ray Block Jr., and Nathan Morse 2020 Working paper available upon request

Recent media coverage of lethal confrontations between White police officers and unarmed African Americans inspires heated conversations about the state of race relations and criminal justice in the United States, and these conversations often influence the content of polling items. Unlike conventional public opinion research on racial differences in law enforcement practices, we are concerned not only with people’s perceptions but also with the processes by which investigators design surveys. Our fascination with polling practices and current events motivates the following research question: do the ways in which pollsters ask questions reflect public discourse? Drawing upon the research on newsworthiness and the allocation of media coverage, we address these questions by employing computer-assisted content analyses of survey “toplines” (summary documents of polling results). This novel source of data allows us to examine dynamics in the link between violent encounters between officers and civilians, media coverage of such events, and the inclusion of items about this violence in public opinion surveys.

Education Policy and Food Inequality Rhianna Franchini, Nathan Morse, Alexander Wu, and Christopher Zorn 2020

We know that poverty can lead to lower quality education, but is the opposite true as well? In this project, we are examining how education policy shapes food deserts as a gauge of economic inequality.

What Types of Political Systems Have Been More Effective at Containing the Spread of COVID-19? Nathan Morse May 2020 Working paper available upon request

In this paper, I theorize that the United States' slow response to the COVID-19 outbreak is a result of structural issues that transcend the current administration. I expected a combination of federalism, democracy, and public distrust of scientists to create a recipe for disaster in the United States. However, I found that federalism had the opposite effect in most countries and usually led to more effective containment of the virus. Infection rates in the United States were nearly twice as high as we would expect given its federalism, democracy, urban density, and elderly population. Because the high infection rates in the United States cannot be explained by structural or demographic characteristics, they are likely due to either poor leadership, a misinformed public, or both.

Curriculum Vitae

Download CV May 13, 2020


M.A., Political Science Pennsylvania State University Expected: 2021

Fields: American politics, political methodology, comparative politics
Advisor: Chris Zorn

B.A., Statistics & Political Science University of Florida 2019

Focuses: election data science, applied statistical methods, political theory
Final project: "Voter Registration Rates: Identifying Where People Are Not Registered and Why"