In January 2001, Matt was writing a paper about the “rally-'round- theflag” phenomenon and came across an intriguing paradox: presidents seem to enjoy larger rallies in public support during crises when their political enemies (the opposing party) control the legislature. As it turned out, Tim's recently completed dissertation provided a theoretical argument that predicted exactly that outcome, and a citation was born. Later that year, we first broached the possibility of expanding our brief discussions to collaborate on a paper at some future date.
After we met Lori Cox Han and Diane Heith at the 2002 Western Political Science Association Conference, they approached us independently about contributing to an edited volume they were putting together on the president in the public domain. As newly minted assistant professors, we were both keenly aware of the ticking tenure clock and worried whether devoting time to an edited volume would “pay off” at tenure time. Cox Han and Heith eased our concern by suggesting that if we did not have enough time to write separate chapters, we could collaborate on one in order to divide the work. This proved to be the nudge we needed to turn our sketchy conversations into a tangible research program.
Although we had been friends in the same graduate program, shared an adviser (Sam Kernell) and research interests, and been hired into the same department at UCLA, in the decade we had known each other we had never worked together on a research project. In late 2002, we decided to meld our respective work on public opinion during foreign policy rally events, partisan communication, and the news, for what we thought would be a one- shot book chapter. Fortunately, combining Matt's research on public opinion and foreign policy with Tim's work on partisan communication produced what we later concluded was a conceptual framework that exceeded the sum of its theoretical parts. Building on this integrated framework, we soon had plotted out the structure of a much more ambitious study. Even as Matt relocated twice (to UCSD and Harvard) over the next few years, the book continued to develop during numerous trips to the Van Nuys Metrolink station, more than 10,000 separate e-mail messages, and countless minutes' worth of cell phone overage charges. While the geographic distance of our collaboration has presented some obstacles, it has allowed a near- seamless workflow in which the combination of time zones and odd sleeping patterns allowed each of us to hand off work before retiring for the night, only to be greeted with an