Daniel Simmons Assistant Professor of Political Science



Ph.D. & M.A. – University of California, Davis
B.S. – Weber State University

Areas of Expertise

Policing, state & local politics, public opinion, public policy, political behavior, political psychology, political communication, experimental methods, and social network analysis.

Courses I Teach:

Introduction to American National Government
American Constitutional Law
Civil Liberties
Criminal Justice

From Professor Simmons

I’ve been a political nerd since the summer of the 2000 election. Even as a kid, I consumed as much information as I could about the nomination process, how elections function, and the legal arguments made to justify how Florida’s contested votes should be counted. After the election, I continued to be intensely curious about how the “rules of the game” could influence political decision-making. What I came to understand is that the best policy doesn’t usually win out; rather, the politician with the greatest knowledge and mastery of the rules can bend the political process to their preferences.

My goal as a professor is to instruct my students on the rules that govern the political process in the United States, empowering them be able to function within those rules to accomplish their political goals. Additionally, I seek to challenge my students to be creative in how they approach politics, aiming to instill in them the recognition that politics permeates every aspect of our collective lives. If my students leave my class equipped with the knowledge of the rules, and inspired to consider creative solutions to political problems, I believe they will succeed in achieving the transformative change in society they and their generation desire.


My primary research uses experimental methods to explore how police shootings influence the public’s political behavior. I examine how police shootings affect who the public determines is to blame for these incidents, how the public votes in local elections after a shooting, how police unions influence the public’s political behavior, and how police shootings affect public preferences for policing policy reforms.

I also use experimental methods to examine varied aspects of political behavior, such as how religion can influence the public’s foreign intervention policy preferences, how local election results can affect a political party’s national prospects, the role of partisanship and ideology in shaping the public’s support for democratic reforms, and how shocks to political systems can affect network formation and behavior.

Recent News

Daniel Simmons of the political science faculty joined a Saint Michael’s community Zoom conversation about the crisis in Ukraine in February sponsored by the College’s new Center for Global Engagement, illustrating the important practical utility of such a Center to help people understand and process world issues affecting their lives. President Lorraine Sterritt joined scores of students, college leaders, faculty and staff tuning in by Zoom to hear a panel consisting of Trish and other Saint Michael’s faculty from Political Science and International Relations, who took turns describing important insights, nuances and undercurrents that might escape Americans who only superficially are following news about Ukraine. The other contributing faculty experts were Professors Shefali Misra, Michael Bosia, Patricia Siplon and the event’s host, Jeffrey Ayres (top right), director of the Center for Global Engagement.
(posted July 2022)

Daniel Simmons of the political science faculty was co-author of a publication for a major outlet this summer. He writes: “This article published in the Washington Post [August 25] summarizes research my co-author and I have been working on. We tested how various incentive programs effect vaccination likelihood. Our findings showed that as little as a $20 cash payment can increase vaccination likelihood significantly, even among the most hesitant groups. Punitive measures like employer mandates, however, harden resistance to vaccination.” Dan also organized a scavenger hunt on campus for students to celebrate Constitution Day in September.
(posted February 2022)

Daniel Simmons, assistant professor of political science, this spring virtually attended the virtual Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meeting. He chaired a panel on Policy in the Criminal Justice System, serving as a panelist on two roundtable discussions sharing advice with grad students, one on the do’s and don’ts of academic job talks, and the other on interviewing at a teaching school, and also presenting research with his co-author Carlos Algara (University of Texas El Paso) examining how elite endorsements and vaccine attributes affect the U.S. mass public’s likelihood of agreeing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
(posted July 2021)

Daniel Simmons of the Saint Michael’s political science faculty gave two interviews in early fall semester to greater Burlington local television news reporters to discuss what to expect from the first presidential debate. One was with reporter Jolie Sherman from Local 22/44, the ABC and Fox affiliate; the other was with reporter Liz Strzepa from NBC5for a September 29 report.
(posted February 2021)