American Political Economy

Much of my current research, in collaboration with Jacob Hacker and other scholars, focuses on the American political economy. Hacker and I are investigating what we call the “Density Paradox.” As the parties increasingly align with population density the Democrats’ urban-suburban coalition is economically ascendant, but politically disadvantaged by institutional arrangements that amplify the impact of rural votes. Here are two recent papers:

Jacob Hacker, Paul Pierson and Sam Zacher, “Why So Little Sectionalism in the United States? The Under-Representation of Place-Based Interests.” November 2021 Draft.

Jacob Hacker, Amelia Malpass, Paul Pierson, and Sam Zacher, “Bridging the Blue Divide: The Democrats’ Metro coalition and the Unexpected Resilience of Redistribution.” November 2022 Draft.

Polarization and Democratic Backsliding in the United States

With Eric Schickler I am completing a book manuscript, Madison’s Constitution Under Stress: A Developmental Analysis of Political Polarization. We argue that the particular characteristics of contemporary polarization in the United States are quite different from those experienced in earlier polarized periods in American political history. Particularly important has been the nationalization of mediating institutions, including state political parties, organized interests, and the media. This unprecedented configuration, in which polarized parties operate within a nationalized polity, generates acute challenges – ones that the American constitutional system was intended to prevent, and that it is poorly equipped to manage. We lay out the basic argument in a recent article in the Annual Review of Political Science.

“Madison’s Constitution Under Stress: A Developmental Analysis of Political Polarization,” Annual Review of Political Science, 2020 (with Eric Schickler).