Plutocrats with Pitchforks: The Political Economy of Right-Wing Populism in the United States

Political Science


This project will explore the role of rising inequality in transforming the Republican Party and laying the groundwork for Donald Trump. One set of examinations will look at the pressures for conservative economic policies emerging out of deep-pocketed donors, business lobbying groups, and activist policy organizations. A second will look at the forces radicalizing the Republican "base" and how they are related to the former pressures. Key topics will include: the changing character of American electoral geography, the role of money in politics, governance under Trump, and historical and cross-national precursors.

The research partner will prepare background memos on particular topics, as well as help with sourcing and quotations. In addition, some basic statistical skills will be required (nothing more advanced than the capacity to collect and record economic data in a spreadsheet and do basic analytic tasks, such as calculating means). Student should have a good understanding of American politics and some background in economics (micro and macro), familiarity with American history, and, above all, a passion for a deeper understanding of contemporary American politics.

The research partner will provide important research assistance that can fill gaps in my coauthor’s and my knowledge (coauthor is Paul Pierson), collect and organize relevant data, and help find useful narrative accounts in contemporary journalism and other sources. Research partner will have a chance to work closely with senior scholars working a book with cross-over potential and learn important research skills, as well as have a chance to look deeply at the transformation of the GOP and one of the most fascinating (and fraught) presidencies in American history.