Doctoral Dissertation Research in Political Science: Dynamic Policy Responsiveness in the US States

Project: Research project

Project Details


When citizens change their policy preferences, how closely do policies follow? The answer is central to democratic theory. The principal of popular sovereignty implies some degree of dynamic policy responsiveness; when public opinion changes substantially, public policy should shift to reflect changed public preferences. While dynamic models of policy responsiveness have been tested and confirmed at the national level, much less is known about policymaking at the state level. This is an important shortcoming because state governments vary in important ways that can enhance or diminish the voice of the people in policy making.

To answer this question, the investigator measures state preferences towards smoking bans over time by combining individual survey data from the Gallup Poll Social Series on Consumption Habits 2001-2008 and the Current Population Survey Smoking and Tobacco Supplement 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001. In both surveys, respondents were asked their preferences towards smoking bans in workplaces, restaurants, bars, and hotels. After creating state level preferences towards smoking bans using recent methodological advances in aggregate opinion estimation, state preferences are linked to the adoption of smoking bans in restaurants, bars, and workplaces using data compiled from the National Cancer Institute's State Cancer Legislative Database. The resulting series will span sixteen years, begin prior to the first state?s adoption, and include a year of overlap to account for potential 'house' and question effects that may influence expressed support for the policy.

The broader impacts of the study are embodied in the original dataset that will be made publicly available, along with the details of the methodology used to generate and validate dynamic measures of state public opinion. The methods of estimation can be extended to measure other preferences at the state level over time, as well as other attitudes such as tolerance, trust, efficacy or confidence which may also exhibit over time change across states. Theoretically, by including measures of public opinion into our models of policy adoption, we can better understand the mechanisms through which other variables impact policy changes. More broadly, this research can assess the extent to which states exhibit policy responsive over time to ordinary citizens in the area of public health.

Effective start/end date9/1/098/31/10


  • National Science Foundation: $3,236.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.