Adam Seth Levine

Assistant Professor of Government, Cornell University

About Adam

Levine’s research focuses largely on questions related to political communication – how the language that elites use to describe policies, social problems, and American politics more generally affects the attitudes that people hold and their willingness to become politically active. He engages a series of topics fundamental to the democratic process: how individuals form political preferences, when they spend scarce resources expressing those preferences, and (partially as a result) why we observe some kinds of policy change and not others. Focal substantive areas include economic insecurity, economic inequality, climate change, same-sex marriage, campaign finance, and national security.


Local Political Parties as Networks: A Guide to Self-Assessment

  • Lara Putnam
  • Daniel Schlozman
  • Tabatha Abu El-Haj
  • Joseph Anthony
  • Jacob M. Grumbach
  • Alexander Hertel-Fernandez
  • Adam Seth Levine
  • Caroline Tervo

In the News

"The Myth of Civic Engagement during Trump’s Presidency," Adam Seth Levine, Behavorial Scientist, November 6, 2017.
Adam Seth Levine quoted on voter mobilization by John Sides, "Why Donald Trump’s ‘Rigged Elections’ Warning Could Actually Make His Supporters Less Likely to Vote" The Washington Post, August 15, 2016.
"What’s Wrong with Bernie Sanders’s Message? He Makes People Feel Poor.," Adam Seth Levine, The Washington Post, February 8, 2016.
"Why Climate Change Rhetoric Simultaneously Succeeds and Fails," Adam Seth Levine (with Reuben Kline), Huffington Post, January 4, 2016.
"Don’t Talk about Those Unpaid Bills," Adam Seth Levine, New York Times, February 18, 2015.
Guest to discuss the demobilizing effects of messaging around economic insecurity on MSNBC, Adam Seth Levine, February 11, 2015.
Adam Seth Levine's research on how economic fears can lead to political inaction discussed by Helaine Olen, "All of Us Worried, None of Us Angry," Pacific Standard, January 5, 2015.
Adam Seth Levine's research on how economic fears can lead to political inaction discussed by "How Not to Talk about the Economy," National Journal, October 25, 2014.
Adam Seth Levine quoted on expenditure cascades by Brad Plumer, "Trickle-Down Consumption’: How Rising Inequality Can Leave Everyone Worse Off" Washington Post, March 27, 2013.
Adam Seth Levine quoted on the negative effects of inequality by Nicholas D. Kristoff, "Our Banana Republic" New York Times, November 6, 2010.


American Insecurity: Why Our Economic Fears Lead to Political Inaction (Princeton University Press, 2015).
Presents a new argument for why people do not become politically active on issues related to economic insecurity, even though they find the issues to be important.
"Expenditure Cascades" (with Robert H. Frank and Oege Dijk). Review of Behavioral Economic 1 (2014): 55-73.
Argues that growing income inequality increases people’s incentives to consume more, which in turn increases the prevalence of financial ruin.
"Why State Constitutions Differ in their Treatment of Same Sex Marriage" (with Arthur Lupia, Yanna Krupnikov, Spencer Piston, and Alex Von Hagen-Jamar). Journal of Politics 72 (2010): 1222-1235.
Challenges the conventional wisdom that variation in public opinion best explains why some states have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage and others do not; instead presents an institutional explanation.
"Were Bush Tax Cut Supporters ‘Simply Ignorant?:’ A Second Look at Conservatives and Liberals in ‘Homer Gets a Tax Cut" Perspectives on Politics 5 (2007): 773-784.
Challenges the common idea that more information would necessarily change people’s policy opinions, focusing here on preferences for the 2001 Bush tax cuts.