Alan E. Wiseman

Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair and Professor of Political Science and Law, Vanderbilt University
Chapter Member: Tennessee SSN
Areas of Expertise:

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About Alan

Wiseman’s research agenda addresses the impact of political institutions on political actors’ behavior and strategies, focusing substantively on legislative, electoral, and bureaucratic and regulatory politics in the United States. One specific area of research includes the study of the characteristics of effective policymakers: who are the most effective members of Congress, why, and with what effects? Wiseman also studies the politics and economics of alcohol regulation and interstate commerce: what are the likely consequences of changing existing regulatory regimes for alcohol sales and distribution, and what standards might the courts employ in evaluating the likely effects of proposed changes?


Who are the Most Effective Lawmakers in Congress?

  • Craig Volden

In the News

"Workhorses, Not Show Horses: Five Ways To Promote Effective Lawmaking in Congress," Alan E. Wiseman (with Craig Volden), Politics + Society, The Conversation, August 29, 2022.
"How the Record Number of Female Lawmakers Will — and Won’t — Change Congress," Alan E. Wiseman (with Craig Volden and Dana Wittmer Wolfe), The Washington Post, January 23, 2019.
"Does Bipartisanship Even Work in Today’s Polarized Congress? Yes.," Alan E. Wiseman (with Craig Volden), The Washington Post, January 3, 2017.
Alan E. Wiseman quoted on women in office by Matthew Yglesias, "A Hillary Clinton Presidency Will Greatly Boost Women's Representation in Politics, with Big Policy Consequences" Vox, June 6, 2016.
Guest to discuss crafting a Congressional scorecard on Virginia Public Radio, Alan E. Wiseman (with Craig Volden), February 1, 2016.
"These are the 10 Most Effective Lawmakers in the U.S. Congress," Alan E. Wiseman (with Craig Volden), The Washington Post, December 28, 2015.
Alan E. Wiseman's research on the legislative effectiveness of Congressman Don Young discussed by Liz Ruskin, "Young, Credited with Effectiveness, Says Personality is Part of his M.O.," Alaska Public Media, January 12, 2015.
Alan E. Wiseman's research on the effectiveness of the newly elected Congress discussed by Jim Patterson, "Effective Lawmakers Re-Elected to the 114th Congress," Vanderbilt Research News, November 5, 2014.
Guest to discuss legislative effectiveness on WVTF Public Radio, Alan E. Wiseman (with Craig Volden), October 23, 2014.
Alan E. Wiseman's research on legislative effectiveness (with Craig Volden) discussed by Deirdre Shesgreen, "Long Lags behind Hartzler, Other Congressional Peers on Legislative Effectiveness," Springfield News-Leader, October 19, 2014.
Alan E. Wiseman's research on legislative effectiveness (with Craig Volden) discussed by H. Brevy Cannon, "How Effective is Your Member of Congress? Scholars Create a Effectiveness Score," UVA Today, October 14, 2014.
"On Average, Women in Congress are More Effective Lawmakers Than Men," Alan E. Wiseman (with Craig Volden and Dana E. Wittmer), American Politics and Policy, London School of Economics Blog, September 20, 2013.
Alan E. Wiseman's research on the effectiveness of women in legislatures (with Craig Volden) discussed by Jennifer Steinhauer, "When are Women More Effective Lawmakers Than Men?," New York Times, March 22, 2013.
"Ohio’s Direct Shipping Law: New Regulations Still Discriminate, and Price Competition May Result," Alan E. Wiseman (with Jerry Ellig), Wines & Vines, December 2007.


"Price Effects and the Commerce Clause: The Case of State Wine Shipping Laws" (with Jerry Ellig). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 10, no. 2 (2013): 196-229.
Analyzes the economic impacts of a body of laws governing interstate shipment of wine that were passed in the wake of Granholm v. Heald (2005) and demonstrates how analysis of price effects might be employed by the courts to assess the discriminatory impact of different state laws in Commerce Clause challenges.
"When are Women More Effective Lawmakers Than Men?" (with Craig Volden and Dana E. Wittmer). American Journal of Political Science 57, no. 2 (2013): 326-341.
Measures the legislative effectiveness of members of Congress and determines that women are more effective than men on average, particularly because in the minority party women are more likely to reach across party lines and continue to push their policy agendas.
"Legislative Effectiveness and Representation in Congress" (with Craig Volden), in Congress Reconsidered, 10th Edition, edited by Lawrence C. Dodd and Bruce I. Oppenheimer (CQ Press, 2012), 237-264.
Develops a method for measuring the legislative effectiveness of Members of Congress, and identifies the tradeoffs that legislators exhibit between electoral security and lawmaking. The most and least electorally secure Members of Congress are generally less effective at advancing their bills through the legislative process, while those Members with a stable basis of electoral security are among the most effective legislators.
"Delegation and Positive-Sum Bureaucracies" Journal of Politics 71, no. 3 (2009): 998-1014.
Develops a theoretical model to assess the impacts of executive clearance, such as that performed by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and Budget on contemporary lawmaking and rulemaking processes. A main finding of my analysis is that under certain circumstances, the institution of executive clearance can be jointly beneficial to both the executive and legislative branches of government, which has implications for enhancing democratic responsiveness of the federal government.
"The Politics of Wine: Trade Barriers, Interest Groups and the Commerce Clause" (with Jerry Ellig). Journal of Politics 69, no. 3 (2007): 859-875.

Takes advantage of changes in Virginia’s laws for the interstate direct shipment of wine between 2002-2003 to assess the contemporary economic effects of the commerce clause. Our analysis demonstrates that, consistent with the intention of the founding fathers, the commerce clause ensures that states do no erect barriers to interstate commerce which would raise the costs of commercial activity.