Welcome!

My name is Jonathan King and I am a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at Michigan State University. I study American politics and research methods with a focus on the United States federal courts.

Leslie (left) and Jonathan


In my research, I examine three aspects of judicial behavior. My first line of research examines federal judicial nominations. I look into the political conditions and influences on the nominations process. My piece, “Prioritizing Judicial Nominations After Presidential Transitions” is published at Presidential Studies Quarterly. My second line of research focuses on the role of personality in circuit judge decision-making. With funding from a National Sciences Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (Award Number: 2017311), I collect, digitize, and make machine-readable pre-confirmation speeches and texts for nominees to the federal circuit courts from 1981 through the present. Through these texts, I create personality trait estimates for circuit judicial nominees on the popular “Big Five” personality spectrum. These personality estimates are then used to examine the impact of personality on several aspects of circuit judge behavior. More information and updates can be found on my NSF page. Finally, my third line of research uses machine learning on oral argument data. Oral arguments provide a crucial resource to justices at the Supreme Court but updated data is scarce due to the rigors of hand coding. Using recent advances on textual analysis, I create supervised learning models that accurately categorizes several components of oral argument data.

For more on my work, please see my CV or Research page.

Prior to attending MSU for my Ph.D., I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Following graduation, I worked as an academic advisor at UW-Madison for two years. Outside of research, I am a huge sports fan. Being born and raised in Wisconsin, I am an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin Badgers, and Milwaukee sports. I love English soccer and am a die-hard Chelsea fan. I am a martial artist (taekwondo) and have trained/ instructed for over 15 years. I love spending time doing yardwork (when warm) and spending all the time I possibly can with my two golden retrievers, Leslie and Perkins (yes, named after the Parks and Rec characters).

For any questions, please feel free to contact me.