The Center on American Politics fosters research on issues of contemporary concern in American politics, including representation, democratic engagement, electoral behavior and the health of governing institutions. The Center on American Politics supports postdoctoral and scholarly research with the following recent examples.

  • In Her Own Name: The Politics of Women’s Rights Before Suffrage
    Sara Chatfield

    In Her Own Name: The Politics of Women’s Rights Before Suffrage.

    By Assistant Professor, Sara Chatfield; Columbia University Press 2023.

    When we think about women’s history, the suffrage movement is often one of the first topics that comes to mind. But individual states, largely before women had the right to vote, enacted reforms that significantly expanded the economic rights of married women. Beginning in 1835 and continuing through 1920, U.S. states passed laws that granted married women new rights to own and control property. As I discuss in my forthcoming book In Her Own Name: The Politics of Women’s Rights Before Suffrage, these new laws were used by male politicians for a wide variety of purposes. One of the main takeaways of the book is that male elites were able to use these reforms to achieve goals that often had little or nothing to do with women’s empowerment, and those goals varied a lot depending on both the region and time period.

  • Campaign Finance Regulations and Public Policy
    American Political Science Review

    Campaign Finance Regulations and Public Policy

    By Martin Gilens, Shawn Patterson, and Pavielle Haines
    American Political Science Review 115 (3): 1074–81; 2021

    Despite a century of efforts to constrain money in American elections, there is little consensus on whether campaign finance regulations make any appreciable difference. Here we take advantage of a change in the campaign finance regulations of half of the U.S. states mandated by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. This exogenously imposed change in the regulation of independent expenditures provides an advance over the identification strategies used in most previous studies. Using a generalized synthetic control method, we find that after Citizens United, states that had previously banned independent corporate expenditures (and thus were “treated” by the decision) adopted more “corporate-friendly” policies on issues with broad effects on corporations’ welfare; we find no evidence of shifts on policies with little or no effect on corporate welfare. We conclude that even relatively narrow changes in campaign finance regulations can have a substantively meaningful influence on government policy making.

  • Learning From Loss: The Democrats 2016-2020
    Learning from Loss, The Democrats

    Learning From Loss: The Democrats 2016-2020

    By Professor Seth Masket; Cambridge University Press; 2020

    The Democrats' decision to nominate Joe Biden for 2020 was hardly a fluke but rather a strategic choice by a party that had elevated electability above all other concerns. In Learning from Loss, one of the nation's leading political analysts offers unique insight into the Democratic Party at a moment of uncertainty. Between 2017 and 2020, Seth Masket spoke with Democratic Party activists and followed the behavior of party leaders and donors to learn how the party was interpreting the 2016 election and thinking about a nominee for 2020. Masket traces the persistence of party factions and shows how interpretations of 2016 shaped strategic choices for 2020. Although diverse narratives emerged to explain defeat in 2016 - ranging from a focus on 'identity politics' to concerns about Clinton as a flawed candidate - these narratives collectively cleared the path for Biden.

  • Concealed Carry Weapons License Database

    Concealed Carry Weapons License Database

    By Trent Steidley
    Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2021-10-09

    The Concealed Carry Weapons License Database (CCWLD) is a longitudinal collection of state and county-level data on concealed carry weapons licenses (CCWs).

    Data were collected from a series of internet searches and freedom of information requests sent to state governments during the fall of 2019 and winter of 2020. Data cleaning was conducted by research assistants and by Trent Steidley in the winter of 2021.

    Documentation memos for each state are provided in the archived files. Along with raw data files, Stata syntax for cleaning, and the final cleaned database.

    This database was supported with funding from the Center on American Politics at the University of Denver and a Professional Research Opportunity for Faculty (PROF) grant from the University of Denver.


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