Iowans on Governor Ray

July 11, 2018 0 Comments

Former Iowa Governor Robert D. Ray will lie in state tomorrow at the Iowa Capitol.  Much has already been said and written about the tenure of Governor Ray, most notably his outreach to refugees from Vietnam in 1975.  Linh Ta, a columnist for the Des Moines Register, provides a particularly moving account of how Governor […]

Continue Reading »

Understanding change on the Supreme Court

June 28, 2018 0 Comments

The political world is on fire following the surprising announcement from Justice Anthony Kennedy that he will retire at the end of July.  While I’m not an expert on the Supreme Court (for that, you should talk to my colleague, Scott Peters), I’ve tried to compile some useful resources to help understand the implications of […]

Continue Reading »


June 27, 2018 0 Comments

The Cook Political Report recently moved the governor’s race in Iowa into the “toss-up” column.  This was a significant change as the race had previously been rated as “likely Republican,” meaning the folks at Cook skipped right over “lean Republican” with their new rating. As I discussed with Ben Kieffer on Iowa Public Radio last […]

Continue Reading »

Thinking about the future

June 15, 2018 0 Comments

Fast forward five months to a post-2018 election world.  If I were to tell you Governor Reynolds was (re)elected as governor, what do you think would be the reasons for her victory?  This is a good thought exercise for thinking about what to expect over the course of the campaign from now until Election Day. […]

Continue Reading »

What will the primary tell us?

June 5, 2018 0 Comments

What will today’s primary election in Iowa tell us? Here are a few questions I hope to have answered (or at least start to answer): Are Democrats enthusiastic about this election?  If turnout exceeds 30 percent of active registered Democrats, then I think the answer is “yes.”  Republican turnout in the competitive 2014 U.S. Senate […]

Continue Reading »

Campaigns again using social pressure to drive voter turnout

May 26, 2018 0 Comments

Another election cycle and once again campaigns are using what are known as “social pressure tactics” to drive voter turnout.  These tactics are based on research Alan Gerber, Donald Green, and I conducted twelve years ago in Michigan. In our study, 80,000 households were sent one of four types of mailers prior to the 2006 […]

Continue Reading »

Is the Iowa legislature becoming more polarized?

May 15, 2018 0 Comments
Is the Iowa legislature becoming more polarized?

Is the Iowa legislature becoming more polarized?  Thanks to fantastic work by Boris Shor and Nolan McCarty we can now empirically answer this question. Shor and McCarty just released an updated data file based on their original work examining survey responses from state legislators across all states.  The survey was administered by Project Vote Smart […]

Continue Reading »

Does unified control make it easier or harder to govern?

May 3, 2018 0 Comments

Contentious battles in the Iowa legislature this week over taxes and abortion once again demonstrate that unified control of state government is not always the blessing many assume it will be. For the casual observer of politics, having your party control both chambers of the legislature, as well as the governor’s office, might seem like […]

Continue Reading »

Fenno’s paradox reminder

April 26, 2018 0 Comments

Will this be a Republican wave year like in 2010 or 2014?  Given that a Republican occupies the White House and that that person is historically unpopular, 2018 is unlikely to be repeat of 2010 or 2014. Will it be a Democratic wave year like in 2006 or 2008?  Turnout patterns in recent midterm elections […]

Continue Reading »

More evidence that voters are not persuadable

April 18, 2018 0 Comments

The notion of voters as persuadable beings in the context of political campaigns has long been questioned by political science.  Our partisan attachments are quite strong and not only affect how we process political information but also, as some scholars have shown, are part of our “social identity.” Two recently published studies cast even further […]

Continue Reading »