Sono Shah

Ph.D. Candidate UC Riverside

Teaching | Publications | Working Papers


My name is Sono Shah. I am a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of California Riverside. I also work as a researcher with AAPI Data, where we make data on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders more accessible. I’m interested in race & ethnicity, political participation, and civic engagement in the U.S.

My dissertation focuses on Asian Americans and Latinos and their campaign contribution behavior where I use administrative records from the FEC as well as survey data from the National Asian American Survey.

As part of my work at AAPI Data, I also create tools to increase the accessibility of demographic data, my most recent project was to create a Community Factsheet tool using shiny, check it out here.


sshah018 [at] ucr [dot] edu

Political Science
University of California Riverside

View My CV

Research Interests

- Asian American & Latino Politics

- Civic Engagement

- Campaign Finance

- Race & Ethnicity

- Machine Learning


Race, Place, and Building a Base: Ethnic Change, Perceived Threat, and the Nascent Trump Campaign for President 2018
Ben Newman, Sono Shah, and Loren Collingwood
Public Opinion Quarterly

A prominent feature of Donald Trump’s campaign for president was the use of racially inflammatory rhetoric and fear over immigration—specifically from Mexico—to galvanize the electorate. Despite the commonly accepted assertion that hostility toward Mexican immigrants was an important attractor of core supporters to his base, analysts and academics alike have failed to explore the role that environmental indicators of perceived threat from immigration, such as residing in an area with a growing Latino population, played in generating support for Trump early in his campaign. We demonstrate that residing in a high-Latino-growth area is predictive of support for Trump following, but not before, his utterance of inflammatory and bellicose comments about Mexican immigrants. Our results suggest that, in addition to the importance of racial resentment and economic frustration, support for Trump in the early campaign period represented an adversarial reaction among Americans to Latino-led diversity.

Gaps in Civic Engagement among Latinos and Asian Americans 2016
Karthick Ramakrishnan, and Sono Shah,
In Klofstad, Casey (ed.), Resources, Engagement, and Recruitment: New Advances in the Study of Civic Volunteerism, Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

Unequal Voices Part II: California's Racial Disparities in Political Participation 2017
with Karthick Ramakrishann, John Dobbard, and Kim Engie
Published Report, Advancement Project

Unequal Voices Part I: California's Racial Disparities in Political Participation 2016
with Karthick Ramakrishann, John Dobbard, and Kim Engie
Published Report, Advancement Project

Minority Donors: Exploring Asian American Donor Behavior

My dissertation explores the role race & ethnicity plays in campaign contribution behavior by looking at Asian American donors. Future work will examine how other donors from other marginalized groups such as Latinos and African Americans may also be influenced by race or ethnicity.

The Trump Effect: Experimental Investigation into the Emboldening Effect

with Ben Newman, Jennifer Merolla, Danielle Lemi, Loren Collingwood, and Karthick Ramakrishnan

Asian Americans and Affirmative Action in California

Racial Composition of Congressional Staff

with Erinn Lauterbach