Skip to main content

Faculty Projects

The Center for American Politics supports research on important issues of the day. These initiatives extend beyond one paper and instead represent broad research agendas that have long lasting impacts on political science and larger policy discussions.  Below are the current research initiatives funded by the center.

Pamela Ban - Gender and Influence in Congressional Politics

Women have made great strides recently towards increasing their representation within the U.S. Congress, making questions about the impact of gender on legislative behavior and congressional outcomes particularly important. Professor Ban's research seeks to understand (1) how a legislator's gender affects their behavior and influence during the policymaking process, (2) how the gender composition of Congress changes legislative outcomes, and (3) how institutional features may moderate or amplify these gender effects. 

Do increasing numbers of women in Congress lead to more representation of women's voices during the legislative process?  How does an individual's gender, in conjunction with the ratio of women in a congressional committee, affect the amount of influence the individual has on bills under consideration?  To what extent is there a gendered confirmation process in the Senate, and how does that affect the pool of judicial nominees?  Underlying this work is a novel approach which takes advantage of recent methods in text analysis to analyze a variety of text-based congressional data sources, including hearing transcripts, committee reports, and records of a bill's language at different points during the legislative process.

[Related Publications]

- Ban, Pamela, Justin Grimmer, Jaclyn Kaslovsky, and Emily West.  "A Woman's Voice in the House: Gender Composition and its Consequences in Committee Hearings."  Working paper.

Dan Butler - Increasing Compromise and Bipartisanship Among Politicians

The increase of gridlock in both Washington and state houses across the country has prevented politicians in both parties from reaching across the aisle and passing legislation. The increased ideological divide between the parties has reduced their effectiveness to represent their constituents and legislate effectively. This has caused them to reject common ground solutions. Professor Butler and his colleagues are working on understanding why gridlock is occurring in both Congress and the state legislatures.

The goal of this initiative is to improve the functioning of representative democracy by getting politicians to work together to solve problems.  The research looks into questions like, what is causing the increased polarization observed today?  Why do politicians sometimes reject common ground solutions that benefit them on policy grounds?  What can be done to increase bipartisanship? Answering these questions would increase the effectiveness of both federal and state government. 

[Related Publications]

- Anderson, Sarah, Daniel M. Butler, and Laurel Harbridge-Yong. 2018. “Closed-Door Compromise—If Politicians Will Show Up.” Democracy Papers Series run by the Social Science Research Council. January 23, 2018.

- Anderson, Sarah, Daniel M. Butler, and Laurel Harbridge-Yong.  Rejecting Compromise: Legislators’ Fear of Primary Voters. Under contract, Cambridge University Press.

Seth Hill - The Politics of Citizen Learning and Misinformation

The information environment in the United States is complex and heterogeneous, making it challenging for citizens to learn about politics and government. Professor Hill and collaborators have investigated how individual citizens learn about politics beyond their own experience. The initiative currently supports research on issues that help answer questions surrounding learning, misinformation, and media consumption. The vision for the initiative is to generate knowledge about how citizens learn that leads to programs to improve this knowledge and create a more representative democracy.

Professor Hill's researches a variety of questions under the initiative. To what degree do individuals set aside their political preferences when confronted with information about government performance, policy consequences, and campaign efforts? How does cognition and perception operate in the realm of political decision making? How engaged are individuals when consuming political information? What do citizens believe about the credibility of different news organizations? How much do opinion survey responses to queries about political beliefs reflect actual belief rather than influences such as partisan cheer leading, shirking, or uncertainty?  What can we as a society do to encourage more careful engagement with politics and evaluation of political issues?

[Related publications]

- Hill, Seth J. and Gregory A. Huber. 2019. "On The Meaning of Survey Reports of Roll Call `Votes'."  American Journal of Political Science Forthcoming.  

- Hill, Seth J. 2017. "Learning Together Slowly: Bayesian Learning About Political Facts." Journal of Politics 79 (4): pp 1403-1418. 

- Bullock, John G., Alan S. Gerber, Seth J. Hill, and Gregory A. Huber. 2015. "Partisan Bias in Factual Beliefs About Politics." Quarterly Journal of Political Science 10 (4): pp 519-578. 

- Hill, Seth J. and Margaret E. Roberts. "Media Informativeness and Credibility in China and the United States." Working paper.

LaGina Gause - The Participation and Representation of Politically Marginalized Communities

Racial and ethnic minorities, the poor, and other marginalized communities face grave barriers to participation and representation. This initiative supports research by Professor Gause that seeks to understand these challenges and identify opportunities for improving the representation of marginalized communities. Professor Gause’s research includes investigations into (1) the influence of protests on legislative behavior, (2) the role of the media in communicating protesters concerns, and (3) the influence of media portrayals on political behavior.  

Professor Gause engages several questions relating to this initiative. Do protests influence legislators’ behavior? Does the race or income of protesters determine whether legislators support protesters concerns? How do media influence participation and representation? When media portrayals of black protests are depicted as violent or illegitimate, how do these portrayals influence the participation of black community members who may or may not identify with the goals of protesters?

[Related publications]

-Gause, LaGina. The Advantage of Disadvantage: Protests, Resources, and Legislative Behavior. Book Manuscript.

-Gause, LaGina, Stephen Moore, and Mara Ostfeldt. “When Protests Become Violent: The Racialization of News Media Coverage of Protest Activity” Working Paper