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Scholarly Interest Report
         
Lyn Ragsdale
Professor
Radoslav A. Tsanoff Chair in Public Affairs and Professor of Political Science
 
e-mail:Lyn.Ragsdale@rice.edu
 
  • B.S. (1974) Arizona State University
  • M.A. (1978) University of Wisconsin
  • Ph.D. (1982) University of Wisconsin
 
Primary Department
   Department of Political Science
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Research Areas
 The Presidency, Electoral Behavior, Congress
 
Research on American Presidents' Decision Making, American Nonvoters
 My current research is on two separate topics: First how do American presidents make major decisions? The research poses a model of presidential decision making which suggests that the president's advisers compete to be the first person to provide the president with the choice that is ultimately selected. Often this means that the choice involves "going for broke." Second, how and why do people decide not to vote in American presidential and congressional elections? This research considers the components of voter turnout since the 1920s and identifies different types of non-voters, some of whom are actually quite aware of politics but nonetheless do not participate.
 
Major Presidential Decisions
 This research examines how American presidents make major decisions--those decisions that involve conflict, novelty, risk, and define their administration's goals. A model of competitive anticipation is proposed which suggests that the president's advisers compete with each other to be the first person to provide the president with the option that is ultimately selected. This competition often leads to choices that "go for broke"--in which presidents maximize the costs of the decision while attempting to maximize the perceived benefits.
 
American Nonvoters
 This research examines the nature of voter turnout in American presidential and congressional elections since 1920. It suggests that the long-discussed decline in turnout is actually not as dramatic as researchers have indicated when the proper historical time frame is examined. In addition, it considers several types of non-voters and discovers that many non-voters are quite well aware of politics, contrary to the stereotype, but choose not to participate because of their dissatisfaction with the candidates running.
 
Teaching Areas
 The Presidency, Congress, American Political Institutions, New Institutionalism, Electoral Behavior
 
Selected Publications
 Refereed articles
 

“Casting Votes: The National Campaign Context and State Turnout, 1920-2008," Political Research Quarterly, 64( December 2011): 840-857.

 
 

Lyn Ragsdale and John J. Theis, III "The Institutionalization of the American Presidency, 1924-1992." American Journal of Political Science, 41 (October 1997) : 121-139.

 
 Lyn Ragsdale and Jerrold Rusk. 2008. "Casting Votes: Components of Voter Turnout in the American States, 1920-2006
 
 Books
 

Lyn Ragsdale "Presidential Politics."  (1993)

 
 

Lyn Ragsdale "Vital Statistics on the American Presidency, Washington to George W. Bush, Third Edition."  (2008)

 
 

Lyn Ragsdale and Gary King "The Elusive Executive: Discovering Statistical Patterns in the Presidency."  (1988)

 
 Book chapters
 

"Studying the Presidency:  Why Presidents Need Political Scientists," in The Presidency and the Political System. 10th ed.  ed. Michael Nelson. Los Angeles: Sage Press, 2014, pp. 33-65. 

 
 

Lyn Ragsdale "Personal Power and Presidents." Presidential Power Revisited (2003)

 
 

Lyn Ragsdale "Politics Not Science: U.S. Space Programs in the Reagan and Bush Years." The Myth of Presidential Leadership: False Hopes and the Decline of the U.S. Space Program (1997) : 131-169.

 
 

Lyn Ragsdale "Studying the Presidency: Why Presidents Need Political Scientists." The Presidency and the Political System, 6th ed. (2000) : 29-63.

 
 

Lyn Ragsdale "Studying the Presidency: Why Presidents Need Political Scientists." The Presidency and the Political System, 6th ed. (2000) : 29-63.

 
 

Lyn Ragsdale and Jerry Rusk "Elections and Presidential Policy Making." Presidential Policy Making (1999) : 98-116.

 
 

Lyn Ragsdale and Timothy Cook "The Presidency and the Press: Negotiating Newsworthiness at the White House." The Presidency and the Political System, 6th ed. (2000) : 325-360.

 
 Book reviews
 

Lyn Ragsdale "Review of Mary Stuckey, Defining americans: The Presidency and National Identity." Perspectives on Politics, 3 (December 2005) : 211-212.

 
Presentations
 Invited Talks
 

"Obama and the Politics of Depolarization” Remarks at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Political Science Association, New Orleans January 2012.

 
 

University Leadership and Administration: The Tale of Two Agendas,” Remarks at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago April 2012.

 
 

Obama Overload,” Remarks presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Political Science Association, New Orleans, January 2011.

 
 

Retrospective on Timothy Cook’s Contribution to Political Communication Research,” Remarks at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Seattle, September 2011.

 
 

“Presidents and Congress in Conflict,” Remarks presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, April 2009.

 
 

“Presidents, the Constitution, and Major Decisions,” Remarks presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, April 2008.

 
 

"Between the Parties: Bush Approval." American Political Science Association, Washington, D.C.. (August 2005)

 
 

"Bush and Presidential Power." Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago. (April 2002)

 
 

"Bush at War." Southern Political Science Association, Savannah. (November 2002)

 
 

"Bush, Public Opinion and the War in Iraq." Southern Political Science Association, New Orleans. (January 2004)

 
 

"Presidential Decision Making." Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago. (April 2003)

 
 

"The Bush Presidency in Historical Context." Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago. (April 2005)

 
Editorial Positions
 Editor, Political Research Quarterly. (1996 - 2000)

 Member of the Editorial Board, Political Research Quarterly. (2007 - 2007)

 Member of the Editorial Board, Political Research Quarterly. (2007 - 2007)

 Member of the Editorial Board, American Journal of Political Science. (2007 - 2007)

 Member of the Editorial Board, American Journal of Political Science. (2007 - 2007)

 Member of the Editorial Board, Legislative Studies Quarterly. (2007 - 2007)

 Member of the Editorial Board, Political Behavior. (2007 - 2007)

Awards, Prizes, & Fellowships
 The American Library Association's Choice Award for best reference work of the year, (1996)

 William A. Steiger Congressional Fellowship Award, American Political Science Association (1990-1991)

Positions Held
 Member, Trust and Development Committee, 2013-2016, American Political Science Association. (2014 - 2014)

 Secretary/Treasurer, Presidency Research Group, American Political Science Association. (2010 - 2011)

 Vice President, Presidents and Executive Politics Section, American Political Science Association. (2011 - 2012)

 President, Presidents and Executive Politics Section, American Political Science Association. (2014 - 2014)

 Section Head. (2011 - 2011)

 Section Head, Southern Political Association Annual Meeting. (2007 - 2007)

 Section Head, Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meeting. (2007 - 2007)

 Member, Council of the Midwest Political Science Association. (2007 - 2007)

 Member, Executive council for the Center of Presidency and Congressional Studies. (2007 - 2007)

 President, Western Political Science Association. (2007 - 2007)

 Member, American Political Science Association. (2007 - 2007)

 Member, Legislative Studies Research Group. (2007 - 2007)

 Member, Presidency Research Group. (2007 - 2007)

 Member, American Political Science Association. (2007 - 2007)

 Member, Midwest Political Science Association. (2007 - 2007)

 Member, Southern Political Science Association. (2007 - 2007)

 Member, Western Political Science Association. (2007 - 2007)