Matt Grossmann

Associate Professor
Office: 321 Berkey Hall
Phone: 517-355-7655

Matt Grossmann is Director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (home of the Michigan Political Leadership Program and policy and survey research programs). He is also Associate Professor of Political Science. His research concerns American politics and policymaking, especially interest groups, public policy, political parties, and campaigns.

His new book (with David Hopkins), Asymmetric Politics, argues that the Republican Party is an agent of an ideological movement whereas the Democratic Party is a coalition of social groups. It uses this asymmetry to explain differences in the parties’ behavior in policy debates, campaigns, and government.

His last book, Artists of the Possible: Governing Networks and American Policy Change Since 1945 (Oxford University Press),analyzes sixty years of domestic policy history to provide a new understanding of what drives policymaking in all three branches of government. The results are surprising: public policy does not address the public’s largest concerns. The amount of policy–and its liberal or conservative direction–emerges instead from coalition building and compromises among political elites. Elections, public opinion, and media coverage have little impact, no matter the issue area. Even changes in Washington’s partisan balance and ideological divides fail to reliably produce shifts in policy direction. The project relies on a content analysis of 268 books and articles on the history of 14 different major policy areas.

His first book, The Not-So-Special Interests: Interest Groups, Public Representation, and American Governance (Stanford University Press), explains why certain public groups, such as Jews, lawyers, and gun-owners, develop substantially more representation than others and why certain organizations, like the National Rifle Association, become the presumed spokespersons for these groups in all types of media and all branches of government.

Matt has published journal articles on policy change, issue area differences, political party networks, policy cues, interest groups, the legislative process, negative campaigning, the consulting industry, group theory, ethnic representation, environmental organizations, technology policy debates, ideological polarization, campaign professionalization, and public opinion about campaigns. His research appears in the Journal of Politcs, Policy Studies Journal, Perspectives on PoliticsAmerican Politics Research, and fourteen other journals. He is also co-author of a Campaigns & Elections textbook (available now from W. W. Norton) and editor of the volume New Directions in Interest Group Politics (from Routledge).

His research on “Asymmetric Parties in American Policy Debates” is supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. His new research project, “How Do the Rich Rule? Public Opinion, Parties, and Interest Groups in Unequal Policy Influence,” is supported by the Russell Sage Foundation.

In addition to academic work, Matt wrote a state commission report on the use of the Internet in political campaigns and co-authored a book on campaign strategy for practitioners. He serves as the director of the Michigan Policy Network, an outlet for online reporting and research on state policy by MSU students. He is also on Twitter: @MattGrossmann

Matt welcomes inquiries from undergraduates interested in policy research opportunities as well as prospective PhD students in American politics or public policy.

Recent Publications