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Can State Politics Transcend Partisan Gridlock?

American Political Science Association State Politics and Policy Conference: June 7-9

National-level party polarization, policymaking gridlock, and ever-increasing economic inequality have contributed to a widely-held public perception that American politics is dysfunctional and incapable of addressing the pressing problems of the day. With federal politics seemingly stymied, many are looking to state governments to step in to fill the policymaking gap and address citizens’ concerns.

We seek proposals across a range of questions about state politics and policy, many of which have long been central to state politics. In an era of heightened gridlock in Washington, are the states filling the policymaking void? As they make policy, to what extent are state courts, bureaucracies, and legislatures contributing to or restraining economic inequality? Are these institutions responsive to the preferences of all citizens or just a few? What role do organized interests play in fostering gridlock or in inhibiting democratic responsiveness? What reforms and lessons do states offer—to each other, to the U.S. federal government, and to other countries—in their capacities as “laboratories of democracy”? Does the natural variation found in the states provide us with lessons that might tell us something about the nature of gridlock and polarization at the national level?”

We are considering a modest registration fee, and graduate student poster presenters who are members of the State Politics section will be eligible for a travel stipend funded, in part by the Carsey Fund.

All questions can be directed to We look forward to seeing everyone in State College in June!

Important Dates

  • December 4: Call for proposals
  • January 19: Proposals due
  • February 16: Program released/registration begins
  • March 16: Registration ends
  • June 7-9: Conference

Hotel Information

The conference will be held at the Smeal College of Business and the Nittany Lion Inn on Penn State’s University Park campus. We have reserved blocks of rooms at the Nittany Lion Inn and the Days Inn. More information on hotel reservations will be available as registration begins.

Getting to State College

The State College airport (SCE) is serviced by three airlines. American Airlines offers flights to State College through Philadelphia, United offers flights through Chicago O’Hare and Washington Dulles, and Delta offers flights through Detroit. The airport is a short distance from campus and the conference hotels.