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James M. Curry

Professor of Political Science, University of Utah
Chapter Leader: Utah SSN
Areas of Expertise:

About James

Curry studies the influence of parties and leaders within the U.S. Congress, and the way information and expertise shape congressional policymaking. Particularly, he investigates how leaders on Capitol Hill, including party leaders and committee chairs, draw on their knowledge and expertise to influence the legislative process, the level of partisan conflict, and the policies ultimately passed into law. In addition, he has conducted research on the way the rules of American legislative elections affect the way those elected act in office. Curry received his PhD in Government & Politics from the University of Maryland, and previously worked in Capitol Hill in the offices of Rep. Dan Lipinski and the House Appropriations Committee.

In the News

Quoted by in "All Eyes on Sen. Hatch as he Weighs Reelection Bid," The Hill, December 28, 2017.
Quoted by Rebecca Worby in "Can Utah's Centrists Provide Refuge for the Disillusioned?," High Country News, October 25, 2017.
Opinion: "Why Would Pelosi Step Down? Parties Don’t Usually Throw Out Congressional Leaders after Electoral Losses.," James M. Curry (with David Karol), The Washington Post, June 30, 2017.
Research discussed by Sarah Binder, in "Yes, Mitch McConnell's Lawmaking is Really Unusual in These 4 Ways," The Washington Post, June 19, 2017.
Interviewed in "The Search for the New FBI Director," Good4Utah, May 16, 2017.
Research discussed by Lee Drutman, in Vox, March 3, 2017.
Opinion: "Why House Republican are Keeping Their Health Care Bill Secret," James M. Curry, Vox, March 2, 2017.
Quoted by Daphne Chen in "The Obamacare Fight is On; Here are 3 Pitfalls Republicans Will Have to Navigate," Deseret News, January 4, 2017.
Opinion: "Congress is Far More Bipartisan than Headlines Suggest," James M. Curry, The Washington Post, December 20, 2016.
Quoted by Matt Gephardt in "What if Congress Blocks a President's Appointments Forever?," KUTV, December 17, 2016.
Guest on Fox News, November 11, 2016.
Guest on ABC Utah, November 9, 2016.
Quoted by Daphne Chen in "Do You Have Election Anxiety? Here's What the Experts Say You Should Do," Deseret News Utah, October 18, 2016.
Quoted by Matt Gephardt in "Good Question: What Happens If Nobody Gets Enough Votes to Be President?," KUTV, October 15, 2016.
Guest on ABC Utah, September 27, 2016.
Quoted by Lisa Hagen in "Dems Target Mia Love in Must-Win Utah House Race," The Hill, June 21, 2016.
Guest on New Books in Political Science, October 13, 2015.


"The Impact of District Magnitude on Voter Drop-Off and Roll-Off in American Elections" (with Paul S. Herrnson and Jeffrey A. Taylor). Legislative Studies Quarterly (2015).

Argues how the use of multi-member districts to elect state legislators reduces voter participation in several states by creating confusion and fatigue among voters and reducing the likelihood that they complete their ballots.

"Legislating in the Dark: Information and Power in the House of Representatives" (University of Chicago Press, 2015).

Demonstrates how the power and influence of party leaders and committee chairs stems from the superior information, knowledge, and expertise they possess compared to rank-and-file lawmakers. Leaders use these advantages to shape the policymaking process and the way their fellow lawmakers view bills and policy proposals, which in turn reinforces partisanship in the chamber and influences the policies made into law.

"The Impact of District Magnitude on Campaign Fundraising" (with Paul S. Herrnson and Jeffrey A. Taylor). 38, no. 4 (2013): 517-543.
Argues how the use of multi-member districts to elect state legislators affects how candidates raise campaign funds. In particular, argues that candidates in these districts have a more difficult time raising the funds they need, and as a result are more beholden to particular groups and segments of the population to accrue campaign cash.