Alexander’s research uses state-of-the-art quantitative techniques to find ways of how we can counter recent trends of citizen political alienation. His PSI project addresses the question: What can mainstream political parties do to win back voters who have turned their back on them and now support populist parties and politicians?
As illustrated by Donald Trump’s upset win of the 2016 US presidential election or the 2016 UK referendum vote to leave the European Union, populism has been on the rise in Western democracies. While mainstream politicians increasingly struggle to get their message across to voters who are fed up with the political elite, we lack an understanding of what mainstream parties and politicians can do to counteract this recent trend and reduce the appeal of populism. Using state-of-the-art survey experimentation, my doctoral research systematically tests the persuasive appeal of campaign messages on alienated voters. Findings from this research could inform future election campaigns of mainstream political parties in Western democracies and help them win back alienated voters.
What does being a Public Scholar mean to you?
It means being an engaged scholar who strives to marry research excellence with public service.
In what ways do you think the PhD experience can be re-imagined with the Public Scholars Initiative?
One of the crucial benefits of the Public Scholars Initiative is that it supports networking between like-minded individuals at UBC and with non-academic partners outside of UBC. By providing the necessary support to reach out to others, the Public Scholars Initiative allows students to find innovative ways how they can combine academic excellence with a meaningful contribution to the public good.
How do you envision connecting your PhD work with broader career possibilities?
Political parties and politicians are increasingly relying on opinion research to guide their policy decisions and election strategies. My goal is to contribute to this trend by producing cutting-edge academic research that is of direct benefit to political parties.
How does your research engage with the larger community and social partners?
My research findings can readily be used by mainstream political parties and politicians to more effectively reach out to alienated voters.
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
A graduate degree offers me the opportunity to investigate questions of societal relevance that I care about and to help devise new and better ways to answer them. Also, I enjoy the intellectual exchange with people who are experts in my discipline and from whom I can learn.
Why did you choose to come to British Columbia and study at UBC?
The UBC Graduate Program in Political Science is one of the best in Canada. It offers a unique combination of faculty expertise both in my substantive areas of interest (comparative politics, political behaviour) and in quantitative research methods.
While mainstream politicians increasingly struggle to get their message across to voters who are fed up with the political elite, we lack an understanding of what mainstream parties and politicians can do to counteract this recent trend and reduce the appeal of populism. Using state-of-the-art survey experimentation, my doctoral research systematically tests the persuasive appeal of campaign messages on alienated voters.