Term Limits, Polarization, and Party Leaders

I recently published an article about the effects of US state legislative term limits on legislators’ behavior. The findings of the article suggest that in the presence of term limits, state legislators in more professionalized legislatures spend less time on constituency service and more time fundraising with their caucus. In the article, I argued that since term limited legislators do not rely on their constituents to maintain a long term career in politics, they are less likely to spend time on constituency service than their peers in non-term limited legislatures. Instead, term limited legislators spend more time on fundraising since it helps them get Continue reading

Recent Lessons from Games for Political Science


The board and video game world this past week have at least two compelling reports that offer some lessons for political science. First, David Hill did both a write up for Grantland and a segment on This American Life about the Diplomacy (the game) world championships. Players in this game have to focus on territorial control and creating/maintaining alliances. This strategic game from the 1950s lacks a true randomization component (dice, coin flips, etc.). However, the game is not Chess either.  Instead, the components that makes the interaction dynamic from game to game are the relationships between the players (up to seven) and the Continue reading

Gay Marriage, Abortion and the Moral Foundations of Political Issues

Americans are becoming progressively more accepting of gays and lesbians.  According to polling from Pew Research, a majority of Americans now support legalizing same sex marriages.  This is a dramatic reversal from the public’s attitudes towards gay marriage just 15 years earlier, where a solid majority (57 percent) of Americans opposed same sex unions.  On the surface, this shift in public attitudes regarding whether homosexuals have a legitimate place in society seems to provide evidence that Americans are becoming increasingly socially liberal.  This view is bolstered when you look at Americans’ attitudes towards the legalization of marijuana, which like same Continue reading

Cantor’s Trojan Horse?

I have a question for someone who is an expert in election law in Virginia. Eric Cantor announced that he will be stepping down from his Congressional seat on August 18. He asked Governor McAuliffe to hold a special election in November so that the candidate who wins his seat will automatically be able to fill the seat. Cantor stated that he wants the special election so his constituents have a representative they want in Congress. My question: Due to Virginia’s sore loser law, Cantor cannot officially run for re-election because he lost his party’s primary election. More specifically, his Continue reading

So You’re on the Job Market, Part III: Coping

In two previous posts (see here and here) I’ve discussed some issues related to being on the political science job market. In the first installment I wrote about some basic organizational steps graduate students can take to prepare for being on the market. The second installment dealt with how graduate students can attempt to evaluate their prospects for getting a job. In this entry I’ll focus more on how you can cope with the stresses of the job market. Again, I’ll stress up front that these posts are written primarily on the basis of my own personal experiences, and are Continue reading

Fictional Political Scientists

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Carla Martinez Machain. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Kansas State University. In having a recent conversation with one of my colleagues in the English department, she noted (with much regret), that the most common characteristic of English professors in fiction is a wish (fulfilled or not) to sleep with their students.  I ran through a few examples in my head (here and here, just to name two); she clearly had a point.  Soon after that, I spoke with someone in the Anthropology department, who decried the Continue reading

Data Collection Project: Songs that Mention Being a Specific Age

This complicated and strange project began innocently enough when I decided to make a mix CD for my friend’s birthday and went searching for relevant songs. But ‘songs about being xx’ turns out not to be a very straightforward thing to search for and so after burning the CD I was left with a burning question: why had I found so few songs? In this blog post, I look at which ages get sung about and which don’t, and I present a comprehensive list of 189 songs that mention being a specific age. You can download the list here, and Continue reading

Reducing Infant Mortality Rates

 Infant Mortality Rates in the United States In 2010, the US had an infant mortality rate of 6.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. This was the third largest infant mortality rate among OECD countries, only less than Mexico and Turkey. In contrast, Finland had the second lowest infant mortality rate among OECD countries, with an average of 2.3 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. However, Finland did not always have a low infant mortality rate. Back in the 1930s, it was relatively high. As a result, the government created a program, the maternity box, in order help reduce infant Continue reading

So You’re on the Job Market, Part II: Expectations

In a previous post I outlined some of the steps graduate students can take to prepare for their time on the job market. I want to emphasize again that much of this really reflects my own set of experiences and training (i.e. three years applying for tenure track jobs at research universities). Much of what I’ve written is also the product of spending time on a search committee myself, but also speaking to several other people with much more experience on search committees than I have. That said, I suspect teaching programs and smaller liberal arts colleges are often looking Continue reading