Trusted Media

As part of my class on “Quantitative Analysis in Political Science,” we asked Bowdoin students to list all of the media that they trust to obtain reliable news about current events and politics.  We also asked them to self-identify on an ideology scale of 0 (very liberal) to 100 (very conservative). I counted up the […]

Data on Outside Group Electioneering

As part of my work with the Wesleyan Media Project (WMP), I am helping to prepare a joint report with the Center for Responsive Politics on the linkages between FEC data and the political ad data at the WMP.  The motivating question is this: if an interest group reports pro-candidate electioneering spending to the FEC, […]

Full “Polar Poll 2017” Results

Once again, and in collaboration with students in Gov 2080 (Quantitative Analysis in Political Science), I am happy to release the findings from this year’s poll of Bowdoin students.  You can access the full set of results here.  We ended up with over 300 student responses, which is nearly 1 in every 6 students enrolled at the […]

Polar Poll 2017

Whenever I teach “Quantitative Analysis in Political Science” I administer a poll of Bowdoin students.  The students help me design the survey questions, and we send it to a random sample of 500 Bowdoin student emails.  I’ve taken to calling it the “Polar Poll,” as Bowdoin’s mascot is the Polar Bear. Full results for this […]

Wesleyan Media Project conference

We had a great conference at Wesleyan University earlier this week (12/4 and 12/5).  The line-up of presentations is here.  What a fantastic group of scholars! I presented some summary info on the amount of ads that aired in the 2016 election.  Here is one figure from the presentation, which shows the percentage of outside […]

Election Day 2016

As Election Day draws near (3 days from now as I write), I was thinking of a graph I made for class earlier this semester showing the number of elections we hold across the country in a presidential cycle.  I counted the number of unique House, Senate, and presidential primary dates across the states in 2016, and […]

Trump Ads and more

My colleagues and I have a new data release over at the Wesleyan Media Project.  See here.  Among the more noteworthy findings for ads aired through September 15: the DNC and RNC–the parties’ formal national organizations–have aired 0 ads (!) in the presidential race thus far.  Pro-Trump outside groups are on the sidelines as well.  […]

To the Convention!

I had the great pleasure of presenting on July 27th at the National Democratic Institute’s conference in Philadelphia.  The conference is run in tandem with the Democratic National Convention, and with a little luck on my side I was able to attend the Convention that evening.  See some pics here. And me practicing my serious […]

Interest Group Advertising

My research for the last 15 years has focused on interest group electioneering efforts in federal campaigns.  The latest iteration of this work is to track the type of organizations involved in elections between 2000 and 2016.  By type of organization, I mean the formal tax classifications of the various groups investing in congressional and […]

“Polar Poll” results

In collaboration with students in Gov 2080 (Quantitative Analysis in Political Science), I am happy to report the results of a poll of Bowdoin students from early March 2016.  We designed the survey questions as a class and will for the remainder of the semester analyze the results.  (Full disclosure: I’ve coined the term “Polar […]

Most popular places on campus

As part of my “Quantitative Analysis in Political Science” course, my students and I recently polled 475 Bowdoin students and asked a range of questions about current issues on campus. One question asked students to click on a map and identify their favorite place on campus. Here is the heat map. The quad, Smith Union, […]


The 2016 presidential primary campaigns are now underway.  The state of affairs is interesting as I write, with Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders winning big victories in New Hampshire.  As things unfold, however, my interest lies less in these dynamics and more on some of the fundamentals. For example, the issue of the front-loading of […]


Sarah Palin endorsed Donald Trump on January 19th.  This reminded me of some analysis I did a number of years ago looking at the Palin effect in the 2008 election.  See here.  She is more a caricature of her former self these days, but the estimate of her impact in 2008 is a reminder of […]

New book on political advertising

As part of my continued work with the Wesleyan Media Project, my colleagues and I will publish a new book in February 2016 about trends in political advertising since the late 1990s.  We consider, in particular, the rise of outside spending after Citizens United, along with the effect of digital media on the deployment of […]

Bowdoin Department BBQ

The Department of Government had its BBQ for majors in September.  Here are some of the highlights.  We moved the BBQ from the end of the spring semester to the beginning of the fall semester.  Better weather and everyone is less stressed!

TV ads and Campaign Costs

I’m working on a new project, and one piece includes a discussion of how much campaigns spend on media and advertising.  This is no easy task, since campaign finance reports are itemized in very different ways.  My co-authors and I downloaded FEC data from federal candidates and categorized itemized expenditures into various categories.  We then […]

Courses at Bowdoin

As part of my job as chair of the Department, I keep the stats on who takes our courses.  I suppose that’s not really a requirement of the job, but I think it’s important to know how are classes are filling and whether that helps us better distribute courses across our departmental curriculum.  Below I […]

New Research Presented at APSA

Over the Labor Day weekend, I attended the American Political Science Association meetings in San Francisco.  At the conference I presented two papers (see here and here) on political advertising, both in collaboration with Travis Ridout and Erika Franklin Fowler.  I’m excited about both papers and eager to begin work on revisions to both.

Disclosure and Aaron Schock

This past semester I taught “Money and Politics,” an advanced seminar for Government majors concentrating in American politics.  Not only is the class a joy to teach–with some of the best students a professor could ask for–but it also represents a real chance to dig deep into the campaign finance issues of the day.  Aaron […]

Bates vs. Colby

As part of my Quantitative Analysis in Political Science course, which is really a research design class focused on statistics (as opposed to the other way around), we design a poll that gets administered to a sample of Bowdoin students.  We ask about a whole range of issues important to students on campus, along with […]

As part of my research with the Wesleyan Media Project, we have a new site up:  It takes a look at the research on negative ads and “dark money.”  Check it out.  There is a parody ad that we helped craft and a mini-documentary.  We had a lot of fun putting this together.

Research on Issues in Ads

My neighbor recently asked me how my vacation was going–the implication being that I get summers off.  Oh, I wish.  Summer is when I can crank out a bit more writing.  It’s less stressful, surely, but not a vacation.  My colleagues and I are putting some finishing touches now on a draft paper that looks […]

Fantasy Baseball…

It’s almost here.  And I’m a sucker for it.  I’ve been in the same league for over 10 years with friends from college.  And every year I produce an updated version of the below graph.  It shows the performance of each team in each of the last 11 seasons.  The plots show the final standing […]

Federalist Paper Word Cloud

I’m playing with Voyant to make word clouds and analyze some text.  Here is a simple cloud of all the words in the complete collection of 85 Federalist Papers.  Lots of examples from specific papers are here.  Top words:  state/states, government, power, people.  No surprise.  I didn’t do any cleaning of the data to combine […]

New Research on Federal Election Commission

I have some new work on the Federal Election Commission forthcoming in the UC-Irvine Law Review.  (The paper is not yet published.)  The article focuses on the FEC’s Advisory Opinion process.  Background info on FEC Advisory Opinions is here, but it is basically a formalized way for political actors (candidates, party committees, and interest groups) […]

Intro to American Government

I’m teaching Intro to American Government this semester.  It’s always a fun class to teach, which is an odd thing to say about an Intro lecture course.  But…I like trying different ways of engaging students with American politics.  This semester I’m using the same approach as the last time I taught the class.  I assign […]

New article in The American Interest

I have a new article out in The American Interest that explores the cost of federal elections in a historical perspective.  I show that while 2012 was a VERY expensive election, it wasn’t even close to the cost of elections in the late 19th Century, once you account for cost relative to the size of […]

Monkey Cage Blog post

One of the best political science blogs out there is The Monkey Cage.  I was fortunate to post some of my research there on the effect of campaign ads in the 2012 presidential campaign.  The post is here. I’ve contributed a few ideas to the blog in the past.  Those are here and here.

Next up: Chair of Government Department, 2013-16

Starting July 1, I’ll be chair of the Government Department at Bowdoin College.  It’s a three-year term, and I’m honored to have the confidence of my colleagues.  The task will be challenging, of course, but my colleagues are great!  After all, we are the “best college political science department IN THE WORLD.”  Of course, that […]

Upcoming talk at Fairfield University

I’ll be giving a talk at my alma mater on April 16th.  I’ll be talking to the newly inducted members of the political science honors society, Pi Sigma Alpha.  The tentative title of the talk is “The Consequences of Campus Activism.”  I’ll be discussing this event on campus from 1999; 14 years to the date, […]

Presenting some new research next week

I’ll be at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association next week (April 10-14) in Chicago.  I’ll be presenting with my co-authors (Travis Ridout and Erika Fowler) the latest version of our working paper, “Explaining Interest Group Advertising Strategies: Loose Cannons or Loyal Foot Soldiers.”  The paper looks at the issue content of […]