Noel, Hans. 2013. Political Ideologies and Political Parties in America. New York: Cambridge University Press.

PIPPAPolitical Ideologies and Political Parties in America puts ideology front and center in the discussion of party coalition change. Treating ideology as neither a nuisance nor a given, the analysis describes the development of the modern liberal and conservative ideologies that form the basis of our modern political parties. Noel shows that liberalism and conservatism emerged as important forces independent of existing political parties. These ideologies then reshaped parties in their own image. Modern polarization can thus be explained as the natural outcome of living in a period, perhaps the first in our history, in which two dominant ideologies have captured the two dominant political parties.

Winner of the 2014 Leon Epstein Outstanding Book Award, given by the Political Organizations and Parties organized section of the American Political Science Association.

Cohen, Marty, David Karol, Hans Noel and John Zaller. 2008. The Party Decides: Presidential Nominations Before and After Reform Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

“Kind of an academic DaVinci Code for figuring out the presidential primary process.” –Jason Zengerle

TPDThroughout the contest for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, politicians and voters alike worried that the outcome might depend on the preferences of unelected superdelegates. This concern threw into relief the prevailing notion that—such unusually competitive cases notwithstanding—people, rather than parties, should and do control presidential nominations. But for the past several decades, The Party Decides shows, unelected insiders in both major parties have effectively selected candidates long before citizens reached the ballot box.

Tracing the evolution of presidential nominations since the 1790s, this volume demonstrates how party insiders have sought since America’s founding to control nominations as a means of getting what they want from government. Contrary to the common view that the party reforms of the 1970s gave voters more power, the authors contend that the most consequential contests remain the candidates’ fights for prominent endorsements and the support of various interest groups and state party leaders. These invisible primaries produce frontrunners long before most voters start paying attention, profoundly influencing final election outcomes and investing parties with far more nominating power than is generally recognized.

Replication Materials for The Party Decides.


Noel, Hans. 2012. Which Long Coalition: The Creation of the Anti-Slavery Coalition Party Politics.

How are party coalitions shaped and reshaped? Elected officials choose coalitions to win elections, but they must work to maintain those coalitions. Non-elected political actors, advancing an ideology at odds with the party coalition, can undermine the party. This article explores this possibility in the case of partisan change on slavery in the Antebellum United States. Intellectuals in 1850 divided into two camps over slavery and the other major issues of the day at a time when slavery cross-cut the two parties in Congress. The ideological division matches one that develops in Congress a decade later, suggesting that the parties responded not just to electoral incentives, but also to this elite division.

  • As a conference paper, this piece won the APSA Political Organizations and Parties Section/Party Politics Award for best paper at the APSA Annual Meeting.


Bawn, Kathleen, Marty Cohen, David Karol, Seth Masket, Hans Noel and John Zaller. 2012. A Theory of Political Parties: Groups, Policy Demands and Nominations in American Politics   Perspectives on Politics. Vol. 10. No. 3.

This article offers a theory of political parties that places interest groups and activists at its center. This is a departure from standard theories, which have politicians at the center. As we theorize them, parties no longer compete to win elections by giving voters the policies voters want. Rather, as coalitions of intense policy demanders, they have their own agendas and aim to get voters to go along.

  • This article won the 2013 APSA Heinz I. Eulau Award for best article publshed in Perspectives on Politics and the 2014 APSA POP Section’s Jack Walker Award for best article on political parties.

Bailey, Michael and Mummolo, Jonathan. 2012. Tea Party Influence: A Story of Activists and Elites 2012. With Michael Bailey and Jonathan Mummolo. American Politics Research.

Understanding how the Tea Party has affected congressional elections and roll call voting helps us understand not only an important political move- ment, but how movements affect politics more generally.We investigate four channels for the movement to influence political outcomes: activists, constit- uent opinion, group endorsement activity and elite-level self-identification. We find consistent evidence that activists mattered both electorally and for roll call voting on issues of importance to the movement. Constituent opin- ion had virtually no impact on either political outcome. Group endorsement activity had possible effects on elections, but mostly no effect on congressional voting. Self-identification among elites did not enhance—or harm—Republican electoral fortunes, but did affect congressional votes important to the move- ment.These divergent results illustrate how movement politics can influence outcomes through multiple channels and call into question the usefulness of the “Tea Party’’ moniker without important qualifiers.

Noel, Hans. 2012. The Coalition Merchants: The Ideological Roots of the Civil Rights Realignment  Journal of Politics Vol. 74, No. 1, pp. 156-173.

Over the course of the twentieth century, the Democratic and Republican parties have reversed positions on racial issues. This reversal is credited to a variety of factors, chief among them strategic decisions on the part of party leaders competing for votes. An original dataset of the opinions expressed by political thinkers in leading magazines and newspapers is used to develop a measure of ideological positions parallel to NOMINATE scores for members of Congress. Results show that the current ideological pattern, in which racial and economic liberalism are aligned together, emerged among political intellectuals at least 20 years before it appeared in congressional voting. The finding is consistent with the view that ideology shapes party coalitions.

Masket, Seth and Hans Noel. 2012. Serving Two Masters: Using Referenda to Assess the Relationship between Voters and Legislators. Political Research Quarterly.

Nyhan, Brendan and Hans Noel. 2011. The “Unfriending Problem”: The Consequences of Friendship Attrition for Causal Estimates of Social Influence2011. (Available online June16, 2011.) With Brendan Nyhan. Social Networks. Vol. 33. No. 3. 211-218

Koger, Gregory, Seth Masket and Hans Noel. 2010. Cooperative Party Factions in American Politics 2010. With Gregory Koger and Seth Masket. American Politics Research: Vol. 38 No. 1 pp. 33-53.

Koger, Gregory, Seth Masket and Hans Noel. 2009. Partisan Webs: Information Exchange and Party Networks British Journal of Political Science: Vol. 39 pp. 633–6537.

Noel, Hans, 2010. Ten Things Political Scientists Know that You Don’t
2010. The Forum. Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 1-19, ISSN (Online) 1540-8884, DOI: 10.2202/1540-8884.1393, October 2010


A Social Networks Analysis of Internal Party Cleavages in Presidential Nominations, 1972-2008

Presidential nomination politics has often revealed schisms within the party coalitions. But are these divisions long-standing or temporary? Do they reflect a chaotic party or a coordinating one? I use a dataset of more than 8000 presidential nomination endorsements from 1972 to 2008 to identify the network of support in the nominating party, as well as the key players in that dynamic. I then apply social networks analysis techniques, including exponential random graph models, to explain those networks. Analysis gives insight into who is important, what groups are stable, and what characteristics lead them to act together

Without a Watchdog: The Effect of Quality News Coverage on Congressional Polarization
(With Marty Cohen and John Zaller) (Presented at APSA 2003, WPSA 2004, APSA 2004)

We consider the relationship between quality media coverage of members of Congress and the nature of representation. We find that were media coverage is of “high quality” (using a variety of measures), voters appear to exercise a delegate model of representation, in which MC’s voting behavior closely maps constituent preferences. But where coverage is poor, voters may not have the information needed to hold MC’s accountable, and those members operate under a responsible party government model, in which MC’s voting behavior follows the party line. We test several implications of the mechanisms implied by this explanation of the empirical pattern.