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Political polarization and dysfunction often occur together, but questions remain about the causal relationship between these phenomena. Does polarization produce government dysfunction, or do impediments to lawmaking propagate political extremism? This project will connect political scientists and computer scientists to evaluate and refine the understanding of this relationship through empirical investigations. Topics of interest include instances where the capacity of the state or a state office experience a sudden, exogenous shift in the ability to meet a policy challenge, and the downstream electoral consequences of changes in the constitutional design of an entire system of government. The research will also use natural language processing techniques to build new measures of candidate policy positions and speech. Results will help democratic reformers determine the most effective path to protect against political extremism and impediments to government action.


William Howell

Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, Professor in the Department of Political Science and the College, and Director of the Center for Effective Government

Chenhao Tan

Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Data Science