Jake Grumbach

Ph.D. candidate
"Upside Down Federalism: The Nationalization of State Politics"
Political Science

In 2012 President Obama won a virtually identical proportion of the electorates of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan—but red Wisconsin and Michigan have cut taxes dramatically, limited union activity, and restricted access to abortion services while blue Minnesota implemented its largest tax increase in history. What explains significant differences in policy outcomes in states with such similar residents?

Scholars have investigated the causes and consequences of polarization at the federal level, but polarization has not led to gridlock everywhere. While the federal government has been mostly gridlocked in recent years, state governments have been highly productive in passing significant polices. Policy outcomes have diverged by party control and become more homogeneous across states controlled by the same party, and variation in significant policy outcomes across states has expanded. Although scholars have increased our understanding of the origins of polarization at the federal level, there has been little investigation of the resurgence of significant state governmental policymaking. This project aims to investigate the causes and consequences of this shift in American federalism—a return to state dominance in policy production not seen since the pre-New Deal era—for democratic representation.