McCoy specializes in democratic erosion and political polarization, crisis prevention and conflict resolution, and electoral processes, including electronic voting and international election monitoring. McCoy's current research is on pernicious polarization’s harm to democracy in the U.S. and around the world. McCoy's recent project was on the politics of transitional justice in the Colombian peace talks. McCoy has done extensive election monitoring in Latin America and the United States, mediation in political conflicts in Latin America, and also organized grassroots political involvement and citizen advocacy in Georgia and U.S. politics. McCoy served as director of the Americas Program at The Carter Center for 1998-2015. McCoy has provided expert testimony to U.S. Congress and consulted with government and international organizations on U.S. policy toward Latin America.
In the News
Discusses how around the world democracy is being undermined by elected leaders using polarizing political strategies that divide societies into mutually distrustful camps. Elaborates how polarization creates incentives for political leaders and voters alike to sacrifice democratic principles rather than risk their side losing power, and it changes the capacity of institutions designed to manage political conflict and sustain democracy.
Analyzes eleven country case studies of polarized polities that are, or had been, electoral democracies, identifying the common and differing causal mechanisms that lead to different outcomes for democracy when a society experiences polarization. Explores pernicious polarization, i.e., when and how a society divides into mutually distrustful “us vs. them” blocs, which endangers democracy.
Focuses on the question of what democratic opposition actors can do to stop or reverse pernicious polarization. Summarizes how based on insights from examples across the world and deductive theory-building, along with illustrative cases, we offer a typology of potential opposition goals, strategies and tools, and then analyse how these may affect polarization and in turn democratic quality at early and late stages.
Addresses the question of how the prospect of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia’s (FARC’s) political participation influence citizens’ support for the peace process? Addresses this question by triangulating evidence from three separate studies: (1) regression analysis using face-to-face nationally representative survey data, as well as (2) a vignette experiment and (3) a conjoint analysis, both conducted online with national samples of Colombians.
Argues that a common pattern and set of dynamics characterizes severe political and societal polarization in different contexts around the world, with pernicious consequences for democracy.
Examines the complex relationship and causal direction between democracy and polarization and posits three theoretical possibilities: (1) polarization contributes to democratic backsliding and decay, (2) polarization results from democratic crisis, and (3) polarization contributes to democratic deepening.
Discusses ways to interrupt Venezuela's slide into a failed economy and repressive state.