Alex Garlick, PhD – University of Pennsylvania
Alex Garlick received his PhD in political science at the University of Pennsylvania. His dissertation, Interest Groups, Lobbying and Polarization in the United States highlights the differences between lobbyists that represent businesses and citizen-based advocacy groups, like the Sierra Club, National Rifle Association, or NARAL. He finds that advocacy groups encourage legislators to vote on party lines on roll call votes, and since advocacy lobbyists are increasingly prevalent, his work helps explain high levels of party polarization in Congress and an uneven pattern of polarization in the state legislatures.
Party polarization has consequences, and Dr. Garlick has found that national interest groups are pursuing their goals in the states. He finds that issues that were previously debated in Congress, like abortion, gun control and gender rights, tend to be more polarized by party in the states. Therefore, to understand why some states are more polarized than others, he suggests a closer examination of the policy agendas of different states.
Previously, he has published research on the impact of ballot design on voter behavior. In an article in State Politics and Policy Quarterly, he found that when Virginia added party labels to its ballots in 2000 it increased voter participation, especially amongst African-Americans. He has also published commentary in the US News and World Report. He is from Needham, Massachusetts where he was elected as a Town Meeting Member at the age of 18, and was an undergraduate at Middlebury College in Vermont.
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