Dr. Lorenz's main line of research examines why Congress addresses some policy issues but not others, and in particular the role of advocacy organizations and special interest groups in shaping Congress’s legislative agenda. In addition, he studies how lawmakers’ backgrounds, interests, districts, and ambitions affect their ability to advance bills through the legislative process and into law. His research has been published in the American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, Interest Groups & Advocacy, and other outlets.
Examines mentions of particular industries across thousands of press releases issued by members of Congress during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Demonstrates how congress members consistently emphasized interests that are significant to their constituency and party network, rather than prioritizing their direct campaign contributors or ideological allies. This suggests that members believe it is crucial to be perceived as good representatives of their district and responsible party stewards, even during national crises when various interests could justifiably be favored.
Evaluates the argument that the American interest group system exhibits a significantly biased distribution of policy preferences. Analysis reveals significant heterogeneity in the interest group system, with little conservative skew and notable inter-party differences in preference correspondence between legislators and ideologically similar groups. Yet, conservative bias and homogeneity reappear when weighing PAC contributions and lobbying expenditures, which suggests that bias depends on the influence of activities like PAC contributions and lobbying on policymakers' perceptions of organized interests' preferences.
Proposes an alternative view on the need for policy-motivated committee agenda setters to assess the viability of bills before granting them consideration. Demonstrates that committee consideration favors “interest diverse” coalitions as opposed to homogeneous coalitions with large campaign contributions.
Examines the allocation of staff resources by members of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1994 to 2013. Finds that legislators are more successful in advancing significant legislation when they retain a more experienced legislative staff.
Introduces the concept of a "coalition portfolio," representing all coalitions in a specific policy area in which an interest group participates at a given time. Uses data from interest groups involved in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 to develop and test hypotheses related to changes in coalition portfolios and their impact on interest group influence over public policy. Finds support for the hypothesis that groups gain influence over the policy process when their coalition portfolios increase the extent to which they are situated between other groups in the coalition network.