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Politics in Question

113 EpisodesProduced by Julia Azari, Lee Drutman, and James WallnerWebsite

A podcast about how our political institutions are failing us and ideas for fixing them. Join hosts Lee Drutman, Julia Azari, and James Wallner, three lively experts on American political institutions and reform, as they imagine and argue over what American politics could look like if citizens quest… read more


Is American democracy backsliding?

In this week’s episode of Politics In Question, Jake Grumbach, joins Julia, Lee, and James to discuss democratic backsliding in the United States. Grumbach is is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington. He has developed a tool for measuring democracy in the states called the State Democracy Index. His research focuses broadly on the political economy of the United States. He is particularly interested in public policy, American federalism, racial capitalism, campaign finance, and statistical methods. His book project, based on his award-winning dissertation, investigates the causes and consequences of the nationalization of state politics since the 1970s.

What is American democracy? How do Americans measure the health of their democracy? Is it backsliding at the state and federal levels? When is it ok for citizens to change how they regulate their elections? Who decides if those changes are good or bad? How do they decide? And where do they decide? These are some of the questions that Jake, Julia, Lee, and James discuss in this week’s episode.

Show Notes

Jacob M. Grumbach, “Laboratories of Democratic Backsliding,” (March 26, 2021).

Jacob M. Grumbach, “From Backwaters to Major Policymakers: Policy Polarization in the States, 1970-2014,” Perspectives on Politics vol. 16, n. 2 (2018): 416-435.

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