Political Science Now

Kenneth Greene–2017 Franklin L. Burdette Award Recipient

The Franklin L. Burdette/Pi Sigma Alpha prize is awarded annually for the best paper presented at the previous year’s annual meeting. The award is supported by Pi Sigma Alpha. It carries a prize of $750.

Kenneth F. Greene is an Associate Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin.  His research focuses on authoritarian regimes and political competition in new democracies, with a particular emphasis on Mexico.

His first book, Why Dominant Parties Lose: Mexico’s Democratization in Comparative Perspective (2007), argues that economic privatization threatens the hyper-incumbency advantages dominant parties derive from politicizing public resources.  This project and related papers won the 2008 Best Book Award and the 2007 and 2015 Best Paper Awards from the Comparative Democratization Section of the American Political Science Association.

Current research centers on vote buying and the quality of elections, arguing that democratic competition undermines political machines’ ability to buy support.

He was Principal Investigator on the Mexico 2012 Panel Study of voters and co-editor of Mexico’s Evolving Democracy (2015).  His articles have appeared in Political Analysis, the American Journal of Political Science, World Politics, Comparative Political Studies, PS: Political Science and Politics, Foreign Affairs en Español, and other outlets.  Recently, he spent a year as Santander Chair of Excellence at the Carlos III University and Juan March Institute in Madrid.

He teaches on research methods, political parties, Mexico’s politics, and US-Mexico relations.  Despite assigning a “too much reading!”, he has been recognized with a 2011 Raymond Dickson Teaching Award and a 2009 Liberal Arts Council Teaching Award for undergraduate education at UT-Austin.

He lives in Austin TX with his family, relies excessively on his smarter friends, and takes off Thursday evenings to compete in a weekly bike race.

“We are pleased to announce “”Why Vote Buying Fails: Campaign Effects and the Elusive Swing Voter”” by Kenneth F. Greene of the University of Texas at Austin as our selection as this year’s winner.

In the paper, Professor Greene challenges the conventional wisdom about the power of vote buying and clientelism in Latin American politics, arguing that modern campaigns undercut the utility of vote-buying. When candidates run legitimate democratic campaigns, it makes voters less predictable to vote-buyers, and increases the risks that vote buying will be ineffective. Greene explores whether campaign issues or vote-selling dominates among those who change their mind over the course of the campaign, and finds that vote-buying is far less effective than previously thought. This is good news for democracy.

The committee was impressed by the paper’s methodological sophistication and how the author uses survey experiments to deliver new insights about a topic of enduring interest among those who study elections in emerging democracies. The paper is well-argued and the methods are well-deployed. We believe this paper is well-deserving of the distinction of being this year’s winner of the Franklin L. Burdette/Pi Sigma Alpha Award.”

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