Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy Year in Review 2019–20

Facilitating research on critical issues in American democracy and encouraging Notre Dame students’ engagement in civic and political life.

Public Scholarship

Over the past year, Rooney Center faculty shared their research through op-eds and interviews with several major media outlets.


David Cortez, I asked Latinos why they joined immigration law enforcement. Now I'm urging them to leave. USA Today, July 3, 2019.

David Campbell and Christina Wolbrecht, How women candidates are making girls feel better about politics, Washington Post, November 22, 2019.

Christina Wolbrecht and Kevin Corder, Predicting How Women Will Vote Requires Looking Beyond Gender Alone, Newsweek, January 30, 2020.


David Cortez, Understanding the Border Patrol, NPR, July 7, 2019.

Christina Wolbrecht and Kevin Corder, The Authors of 'A Century of Votes for Women' Weigh in on What Kind of Difference the 'Women's Vote' Makes, Newsweek, January 30, 2020.

Christina Wolbrecht, Will Tara Reade’s Accusations Impact The Presidential Race? NPR’s 1A, May 21, 2020.

In the News

Reporters across the country regularly reach out to Rooney Center faculty, highlighting their research and seeking their expertise on stories about all aspects of American politics.

Research Highlights

Christina Wolbrecht and J. Kevin Corder published A Century of Votes for Women: American Elections Since Suffrage (Cambridge University Press, 2020). Christina was also the featured speaker for Women Voters, 1920-2016, a nationally televised event on C-SPAN where she discussed the findings in her book. Watch the event.

David Campbell served on the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Commission for the Practice of Democratic Citizenship, which issued a bipartisan report, Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century, in June 2020. Read the report.

Jeff Harden and colleagues received a RAPID grant from the National Science Foundation to explore the political response to the global pandemic across the American states. Harden and his collaborators seek to understand why states take particular approaches to COVID19 and with what impact on health and economic outcomes. Read about the project.

Recent research articles

Jeffrey J.Harden, Justin H. Kirkland, and Patrick E. Shea, 2020. “Legislative Transparency and Credit Risk.” Legislative Studies Quarterly.

We conclude that while openness in government may be normatively desirable, shielding legislative proceedings from public view may actually be better for states' debt repayment capacity, improving their overall fiscal health.”

Patrick J. Flavin (former graduate student), Alexander Pacek, and Benjamin Radcliff, 2019. “Labour market regulation and subjective well‐being, European Journal of Political Research.” 58(4): 1088-110.

Mark Brockway (former graduate student), Alexander Pacek, Benjamin Radcliff, 2019. "Well-Being and the Democratic State: How the Public Sector Promotes Human Happiness," Social Indicators Research, Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement 143(3):1147-1159.

Focus on Students

Jessala Grijalva

Jessala Grijalva is one of just 11 political science graduate students in the country to win a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in 2020. Her NSF project, “Measuring Prejudice Towards Latinos,” proposes to develop a survey instrument to measure racial resentment towards Latinos, something missing from previous research into Latinx politics.

Nicholas Ottone

The Rooney Center-funded John Roos Prize for best senior thesis went to Nicholas Ottone for his project “Multi-Racial Resentment? The Relationship Between Racial Identity and the Racial Resentment Scale,” advised by David Campbell. Ottone will now pursue a Ph.D. in political science at Yale.

Co-sponsored by the Rooney Center, ND Votes is a nonpartisan campaign to promote voter education, registration, and mobilization. The signature Pizza, Pop & Politics events foster conscientious engagement in political and civic life among students.

September: Reforming the Electoral College: Silver Bullet or Dangerous Gamble? Josh Kaplan, Political Science, University of Notre Dame

November: Untapped Potential: The Power of the Youth Vote and the Keys to Unlocking a Generation. Nancy Thomas, Institute for Democracy and Higher Education, Tufts University

December: High Crimes and Misdemeanors? The Political History of Impeachment. Peri Arnold, Political Science, University of Notre Dame, Jimmy Gurulé, Notre Dame Law School (pictured on left)

February: Girl Power: Examining the Role of Women Voters in Presidential Elections. Christina Wolbrecht, Political Science, University of Notre Dame

The Notre Dame Washington Program hosted 32 students this year in Washington, D.C. The cornerstone of the Washington experience — an internship — placed students in a wide range of organizations, including the House Democratic Cloakroom, the State Department's Office of Global Women's Issues, and think tanks such as the Brookings Institution and the Hudson Institute.

The program's strong enrichment component involves meetings with policy leaders and organizations as well as attending conferences, lectures, and hearings. Students this year went to a conference on free speech hosted by the National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, a talk at the Heritage Foundation on preserving the Electoral College, and a hearing of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs regarding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A few even got to tour the NPR studios.