DONALD M. GOOCH
My research is within the general areas of public law and American politics. My research agenda includes assessing political polarization at the mass public and elite levels in the American electorate, studying the Supreme Court from both a behavioral and institutional perspective, the effects of campaign finance regulation on campaign contributions, civic education and civic efficacy, and formal theory and the spatial theory of voting. My research exhibits methodological diversity and sophistication and employs the gamut of social science techniques to answer important questions and contribute to the political science literature. My research includes original data collections on civic education and policy implementation of Supreme Court religious doctrine, analysis of time series data on the American electorate and the institutions of American government using sophisticated multivariate modeling, and theoretical and deep contextual work in my areas of interest. I have employed the more time series cross-sectional statistical modeling in contributing to our understanding of how campaign laws affect contributions in a state-level natural experiment. Furthermore he has employed large N national samples to assess a number of important hypotheses in these two areas, yielding highly generalizable results.
Since my appointment to the SFA faculty in the fall of 2012, I have published one peer-reviewed academic paper and have a second round revise and resubmit on a second article. The published article is “Breaking the Banks: The Effect of State Campaign Finance Regulatory Environments and Regulatory Regimes on State Campaign Contributions and Spending” with Chapman Rackaway of Fort Hays State University. Our article analyzes four election cycles of state-level campaign finance data in order to assess the comparative effects of campaign finance regulatory regimes and environments on campaign finance. We find that differences in the specific regulations and how they interact with one another does affect campaign contributions – marginally decreasing these contributions controlling for other state-level differences. However, these effects are statistically significant but not substantially large, suggesting contributors are somewhat but not substantially restrained by campaign finance regulations. This article was accepted for publication at the Midsouth Political Science Review August 25th, 2014 and is scheduled for publication in the December edition of the journal.
The second article, currently under review with a second round revise and resubmit at American Politics Research, is “Ideological Polarization on the Supreme Court: Trends in the Court’s Institutional Environment and across Regimes, 1937-2008.” Judicial polarization is an important but underexplored aspect of judicial behavior. This analysis employs a gamut of measures to assess polarization on the Supreme Court across chief justice and jurisprudential regimes. I examine how Court polarization is responsive to polarization in coordinate institutions, and I examine individual justice polarization and ideological extremity over full tenures on the Court. I find mixed evidence of greater polarization in the abortion rights regime. I find strong evidence of increasing Court polarization concomitant with congressional and presidential polarization since the 1950s across chief justice regimes. Court polarization is responsive to polarization in coordinate institutions. I do not find that individual justices become more polarized over time. Justices shift ideologically over their careers, and this shift is on average to the Left. These findings are robust across multiple specifications of the models, multiple alternative measurements, and controlling for other factors which might influence polarization.
I have been part of a multi-institution project on civic literacy and civic education since 2007. As part of the Arkansas Civic Education Group, I have testified before the Arkansas legislature’s committee on higher education and penned op-eds promoting civic education in media such as the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The bulk of this work has involved a continuing data collection on civic education and civic literacy at Arkansas Tech University, and now at SFA, that has already resulted in a peer-reviewed publication with my co-principal investigator, Michael Rogers of Arkansas Tech University. Since joining SFA, I have added SFA to the institutions where we have implemented our Civic Education project, with SFA IRB approval. This research employs the measures of civic literacy derived from the citizenship exam instrument we have reported previously (Gooch and Rogers, 2012). A version of the citizenship exam has been given in ATU American Government courses since 2007 on a semi-annual basis, and the data collection at SFA began in the fall of 2012. We began collecting political participation, interest and civic efficacy data in the spring 2012 ATU semester posttest and have instituted that collection here at SFA. This survey was implemented utilizing a pretest-posttest quasi-experimental research design at three institutions for this data collection in order to broaden the scope of the assessment and in order to improve on the generalizability of the results. The survey was implemented in a pretest and posttest at all three institutions: Arkansas Tech University, Stephen F. Austin State University, and Sam Houston State University. At ATU and SHSU the instrument was implemented in standard American Government courses. The SFA implementation has primarily been in PSC 142 Introduction to American Government (Structure & Function) courses at SFA, though we have recently added PSC 141 collections as well.
I have working papers in various stages of completion. I have a paper on the mass-elite dynamic of ideological polarization in the American electorate, a paper on group polarization on religiosity, and papers on gay rights and abortion polarization that have all been presented at conferences and, with some further work, will be submissions to academic journals in the near future. I have a project with Dr. Steve Galatas on Texas judicial elections which will be presented at the 2015 SPSA conference in New Orleans. I am implementing Phase Two of the Abel-Gooch project on Supreme Court religious doctrine the fall and spring of the 2014-2015 academic year. Lastly, I am in development of a book proposal on political polarization with Dr. Lee Payne, with potential contributions from Dr. John Petrocik and Dr. Keith Poole, to be submitted to an academic press in the near future.
PresentationMWPSA Conference 2003: "Campaign Contribution Limits in the States"