The U.S. system, with its complex array of checks and balances, usually requires broad consensus to function. But this consensus rarely emerges in this era of ideological polarization, close two-party competition, public distrust, and hyperpartisanship. Meanwhile, policy challenges continue to mount, amidst growing economic, social, and political inequalities.

The working group on Institutions addresses concerns about the performance and legitimacy of representative political institutions. The group operates under two assumptions: first, polarized parties are a fact of life, given the long evolutionary processes that have ideologically sorted the parties and that have finally brought U.S. parties into alignment with those in other advanced democracies. Second, major constitutional reform altering the U.S. system will not be forthcoming. If these two assumptions are correct, what does this mean for policymaking, federalism, and the functioning of American governmental institutions? 

The group is chaired by Professor Frances Lee and Professor Nolan McCarty.

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Working Group Co-chairs

Frances Lee
Professor of Government and Politics, University of Maryland

Nolan McCarty
Susan Dod Brown Professor of Politics and Public Affairs, Princeton University


Brandice Canes-Wrone (Princeton University), Daniel Carpenter (Harvard University), Anthony Chen (Northwestern University), Elisabeth Gerber (University of Michigan), Daniel Gillion (University of Pennsylvania), Matthew Grossman (Michigan State University), Meg Jacobs (Princeton University), Suzanne Mettler (Cornell University), Gillian Metzger (Columbia University), David J. Samuels (University of Minnesota), Eric Schickler (University of California, Berkeley), Mark Schmitt (New America Foundation), Arthur Spirling (New York University), Charles Stewart III (Massachusetts Institute of Technology),

The following contributors have also supported the mission of the working group:
Lee Drutman (New America Foundation), Timothy LaPira (James Madison University), Nathan Gibson (Princeton University), Daniel Scholzman (Johns Hopkins University), Sam Rosenfeld (Colgate University), Peter Hanson (University of Denver), James Curry (The University of Utah), Kenneth Benoit (London School of Economics), Kevin Munger (New York University), Claire Leavitt (Cornell University), David Spence (University of Texas at Austin).