Book Projects: 

A first project, co-edited with Eric Patashnik (UVA), considers legislation to be a living, breathing force in American politics: laws shape the growth of the state, animate the bureaucracy, and determine what policy ideas are translated into action.  Laws have a life before adoption, when they are merely proposals advancing on the agenda, as well as after enactment, when they may generate durable legacies that channel the political possibilities of the future.  Yet many scholars treat legislation as a static factor in American politics, restricting attention to the initial moment when bills are signed. This volume adopts a developmental view of legislation to produce fresh insights into contemporary American politics.  Ranging from inquiries into Congress, the presidency, the bureaucracy, and the courts, the contributors show how laws are born, mutate, and die, as well as explore how laws emerge from and remake coalitional structures, mediate partisan conflicts, and interact with broader shifts in the political environment.  The title of the book is Living Legislation: Durability, Change, and the Politics of American Law Making, and it was published by the University of Chicago Press (2012).  Here is a link to the book’s Amazon page. 

A second project, co-authored with Charles Stewart (MIT), examines the rise of mass parties and the institutionalization of the House organization across time.  In particular, we examine how the majority party in the House came to consolidate its hold on the nodes of power in the chamber, specifically the Speakership.  We take it for granted today that the majority party organizes the House, but this was not always so.  Lengthy battles over the Houses organization occurred in the antebellum era, with speakership fights sometimes raging for months.  On occasion the majority party would lose the speakership, or another valuable House office, to a minority-based coalition.  Only with the Civil War and the rise of congressional party caucuses did the majority party develop a stranglehold on the organization of the House.  The title of the book is Fighting for the Speakership: The House and Rise of Party Government, and it was published by Princeton University Press (2013).  Here is a link to the book’s Amazon page. 

A third project, co-edited with Sidney Milkis (UVA), examines the politics of major policy reform in the post-World War II United States.  Although the volume does not presume to cover all important policy arenas, it includes discussion of nine critical issues, spanning civil rights, social welfare, trade, immigration, and national security, that offer a comprehensive understanding of how major breakthroughs are achieved, stifled, or compromised in a political system conventionally understood as resistant to major changes.  The title of the book is The Politics of Major Policy Reform in Postwar America, and it was published by Cambridge University Press (2014).  Here is a link to the book’s Amazon page. 

A fourth project, co-edited with Eric Patashnik (UVA), examines the policy making process in the contemporary Congress.  Motivating the volume are the following questions: Congress is frequently said to be “broken,” “dysfunctional,” and “weak,” but how does the contemporary Congress really work? Does Congress have the capacity to solve major policy problems? Can it check an aggrandizing executive, oversee a powerful Federal Reserve, and represent the American people? Can Congress cope with vast changes in the American political economy, including rising income inequality?  The volume’s authors take a fresh look at congressional performance in the domestic arena, focusing on issues such as immigration, health care, and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and examine how Congress tackles – and fails to tackle – key policy challenges in an era of growing social diversity and ideological polarization.  The title of the book is Congress and Policy Making in the 21st Century, and it is forthcoming at Cambridge University Press.  Here is a link to the book’s Amazon page.


A fifth project is a book in the New Institutionalism in American Politics series, on W. W. Norton Press, edited by Kenneth A. Shepsle.  The book is entitled Analyzing Parties, which will stand alongside other books in the series like Analyzing Congress (by Charles Stewart of MIT), Analyzing Policy (by Michael Munger of Duke University), Analyzing Interest Groups (by Scott Ainsworth of the University of Georgia), and Analyzing Elections (by Rebecca Morton of NYU).  Here is a general outline of the chapters. 

A sixth project, co-authored with Boris Heersink (UVA), examines the history of Republican Party politics and the American South between the end of Reconstruction and the implementation of the “Southern strategy” under Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan in the second half of the 20th century. Political scientists (as well as historians) have largely ignored the Republican Party’s activities in the South during this period. However, the ongoing presence of a substantial number of Southern Republicans at national conventions, and the intense conflict over local party organizations in the South, presents a puzzle: why were Southern Republicans given considerable weight in deciding crucial party matters (including presidential and vice-presidential nominations, platforms, and the location of national conventions), even as the GOP was increasingly unlikely to win elections in the South? And why did local political actors compete so vigorously for control of a party that did not produce electoral success?  The title of the book is Republican Party Politics and the American South, 1865-1968, and it is under contract at Cambridge University Press.  Here is a general outline of the chapters.

A seventh project, co-authored with Justin Peck (San Francisco State University), examines how the issue of civil rights for black Americans has been dealt with in the U.S. Congress from the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 through the present day.  The book will take a historical approach and detail how the U.S. Congress has struggled with civil rights issues across different eras in the Nations history: from Reconstruction through Redemption, when blacks were first empowered and then reduced to second-class citizens; across the bleak period of the late-19th and early-20th centuries, when Congress was almost wholly unreceptive to black Americans plight and civil rights policy reached a post-1863 low point; through different phases of the post-World War I era, when blacks made slow and steady progress in generating a civil rights agenda in Congress, culminating in the landmark Acts of 1964 and 1965 (and their subsequent Extensions and Amendments).  The title of the book is Congress and Civil Rights: A Political-Economic History, and it is under contract at Princeton University Press.  Here is the book proposal, complete with a chapter outline.

Finally, an eighth project deals with the subject of party effects and the American Civil War, which is an extension of some of my early articles-based research.  This is on the back burner right now, while I finish other projects, but the book will be entitled Investigating the Effects of Party: Congressional Politics and the American Civil War.  It will tackle the question that has vexed the Congress literature over the last decade and a half:  do parties matter in the internal politics of Congress?  I will argue that Civil War politics provides a perfect natural experiment to test for party effects, because the Confederacy was nearly identical to the United States in all institutional facets, except that a strong two-party system flourished in the U.S. while a party system did not exist in the Confederacy.  Thus, the effects of party on congressional decision making can be isolated and assessed.  In addition to revisiting some of my earlier work on the subject, I will conduct a new set of analyses and develop some comprehensive case studies.  Here is a general outline of the chapters.