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Erin Cassese - University of Delaware. Newark, DE, US

Erin Cassese

Professor, Political Science and International Relations | University of Delaware


Dr. Cassese explores the behavior of women as voters and candidates for political office in the United States.



Dr. Erin C. Cassese is a Professor in the Political Science Department at the University of Delaware. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Stony Brook University in 2007. Her dissertation project, Culture Wars as Identity Politics, won the American Political Science Association’s Political Psychology Section Best Dissertation Award. Her current research examines voter psychology, with an emphasis on the role of gender in American political campaigns and elections. This work has appeared in Political Behavior, Political Research Quarterly, Political Psychology, Politics & Gender and a number of other scholarly journals. Cassese’s scholarship has been cited by national media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vox, and FiveThirtyEight. Cassese also studies partisan conflict, with an emphasis on psychological processes such as affective polarization and dehumanization.

Industry Expertise (2)


Political Organization

Areas of Expertise (6)

Women Voters


Gender Stereotypes

Political Psychology

Public Opinion

Religion and Politics

Media Appearances (5)

The depressing reality of Republican campaigns and domestic violence

NBC News  online


More troubling, there’s been no corresponding backlash from GOP voters, not even from Republican women, Erin C. Cassese, a professor of political science at the University of Delaware, told The Times: "The #MeToo movement and the current debate over transgender rights and education are only widening the gap between Republican women and women who identify as Democrats and independents," Prof. Cassese said.

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As G.O.P. Candidates Face Accusations, Rivals Tread Carefully

The New York Times  online


But in 2016, 88 percent of Republican women voted for Mr. Trump, just a percentage point below the share of Republican men who did. Even in 2018, when women were widely seen as having delivered the House to Democrats in response to the Trump presidency, Republican women were no more likely to vote for Democrats than they had been two years before, said Erin C. Cassese, a professor of political science at the University of Delaware who studies women’s voting patterns.

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Opinion | What We Know About the Women Who Vote for Republicans and the Men Who Do Not

The New York Times  online


[no abstract available]

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White women backed Glenn Youngkin for Virginia governor. That shouldn’t have come as a surprise, experts say.

The Washington Post  online


“Mobilization in rural communities in [Virginia] was very high, which could help explain the strong showing for Youngkin among White women without a college degree,” Erin Cassese, an associate professor of political science at the University of Delaware, said in an email. “These women seem to be shifting to the Republican Party while White, college educated women are driving a suburban shift toward the Democratic Party.”

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How Voters Feel About Josh Hawley’s ‘Attack on Men’

The Atlantic  online


Apprehension about new dynamics in both race and gender “are correlated,” Erin Cassese, a University of Delaware political scientist who has studied gender and politics, told me in an email. “Essentially it’s a preference for the status quo in all things—gender relations, race relations, political and economic systems.”

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Articles (5)

Hostile Sexism, Racial Resentment, and Political Mobilization

Political Behavior

2022 We argue that hostile sexism and racial resentment play an important and somewhat underappreciated role in American elections through their influence on voter turnout and engagement with political campaigns. The effects of these attitudes are not straightforward but depend on partisanship. We evaluate whether high levels of racial resentment and hostile sexism cross-pressure Democratic partisans, resulting in lower levels of political participation. We further consider whether high levels of racial resentment and hostile sexism bolster participation among Republicans. We find evidence of these divergent effects on the political mobilization of white voters using the 2016 American National Election Study. The results support our expectations and suggest that cuing resentment-based attitudes was an important strategy for engaging voters in the 2016 presidential campaign and will likely play an important role in future campaigns as well.

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American Party Women Redux: Stability in Partisan Gender Gaps

PS: Political Science & Politics

2021 Recent research in American politics demonstrates that despite gender-based partisan sorting, gender gaps in policy preferences persist within political parties—particularly among Republicans. Republican women report significantly more moderate views than their male counterparts across a range of policy areas. These gaps are largely attributable to gender differences in beliefs about the appropriate scope of government and attitudes toward gender-based inequality. Arguably, gender has become a more salient feature of American elections in recent years, and this heightened salience raises questions about whether these within-party gender gaps are stable over time or vary across campaign contexts. We use survey data from the 2012 and 2016 American National Election Study to evaluate whether gender gaps in policy preferences are stable across elections or if the 2016 election context affected the magnitude of gender differences in policy preferences. We find that gender gaps in policy preferences within political parties are fairly stable across the two electoral periods.

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Gender Differences in COVID-19 Conspiracy Theory Beliefs

Politics & Gender

2020 In this article, we evaluate gender differences in COVID-19 conspiracy theory beliefs. We find that women are significantly less likely than men to endorse COVID-19 conspiracy theories and that this gender difference cuts across party lines. Our analysis suggests that this gender gap is partially explained by two dispositional factors: learned helplessness and conspiratorial thinking. Our findings qualify past work on the antecedents of conspiracy theory beliefs, which does not uncover robust and significant gender differences. The results highlight the need for work in this area to better theorize about the significance of gender.

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Straying from the Flock? A Look at How Americans’ Gender and Religious Identities Cross-Pressure Partisanship

Political Research Quarterly

2019 White evangelicals–both men and women–are a mainstay of the Republican Party. What accounts for their ongoing loyalty, particularly when Republican candidates and leaders fail to embody closely held moral standards around sexual monogamy and propriety, as Donald Trump did in 2016? To answer this question, I draw on research about social sorting and polarization, as well as gender and religion gaps in public opinion, to theorize about the nature of the cross-pressures partisans may experience as a result of the religious and gender identifications they hold. Using data from the 2016 American National Election Study, I evaluate whether cross-cutting identities have a moderating effect on partisans’ thinking about gender issues, their evaluations of the presidential candidates, and their relationship to the parties. I find only modest evidence that gender and evangelical identification impact political thinking among white Republicans, including their reactions to the Access Hollywood tape. Other groups, however, experienced more significant cross-pressures in 2016. Both evangelical Democrats and secular Republicans reported less polarized affective reactions to the presidential candidates and the parties. The results highlight the contingent role that gender and religious identities play in the United States’ highly polarized political climate.

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Dehumanization of the Opposition in Political Campaigns

Social Science Quarterly

2019 Objective This article documents dehumanization in the 2016 presidential contest. Methods Using a mixed-method approach, I analyze dehumanized portrayals of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in visual campaign rhetoric and on common survey measures of dehumanization. Results Images from the campaign discourse reflect animalistic and mechanistic dehumanization of the presidential candidates. The survey data reveal that voters dehumanize opposition candidates and party members in both subtle and blatant ways that also reflect this animalistic–mechanistic distinction.

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Accomplishments (5)

PRQ Best Paper Award, Political Research Quarterly (professional)


New Research on Gender and Political Psychology Teaching Innovation Award, Social Movements in Fiction & Film (professional)


Elsie Hillman Prize (professional)


Marion Irish Award, Southern Political Science Association Annual Meeting (professional)


Carrie Chapman Catt Prize for Research on Women and Politics (professional)


Education (3)

Stony Brook University: PhD, Political Science 2007

Stony Brook University: MA, Political Science 2005

Canisius College: BA, Psychology 2002

Event Appearances (4)

“White Evangelical Women Voters in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Race”

2019, University of Minnesota  Minneapolis, MN

“Intersectional Motherhood: Investigating Public Support for Child Care Subsidies”

2017, Simon Fraser University  Vancouver, Canada

“Monstrosity and Dehumanization in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Contest”

2017, University of Hartford  Hartford, CT

“Not a Team Player? Communal Challenges to Female Candidates”

2016, College of Wooster  Wooster, OH