Jonathan Rodden

Senior Fellow
Biography: 

Jonathan Rodden is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a professor in the political science department at Stanford. Rodden was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, 2006–7, and a W. Glenn Campbell and Rita Ricardo-Campbell National Fellow, 2010–12.

He has written several articles and a pair of books on federalism and fiscal decentralization. His most recent book, Why Cities Lose: The Deep Roots of the Urban-Rural Political Divide (Basic Books, 2019), Rodden demonstrates the left's electoral challenges have deeper roots in economic and political geography. He frequently works with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on issues related to fiscal decentralization.

His research focuses on the comparative political economy of institutions. Rodden has also written papers on the geographic distribution of political preferences within countries, legislative bargaining, the distribution of budgetary transfers across regions, and the historical origins of political institutions. He is currently writing a series of articles and a book on political geography and the drawing of electoral districts around the world.

Rodden received his PhD in political science from Yale University and his BA from the University of Michigan and was a Fulbright student at the University of Leipzig, Germany. Before joining the Stanford faculty in 2007, he was the Ford Associate Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

How America’s Urban-Rural Divide Has Shaped The Pandemic

by Jonathan Roddenvia Foreign Affairs
Monday, April 20, 2020

The response to the novel coronavirus pandemic in the United States has been delayed and disjointed for many reasons. Perhaps one of the most pernicious factors has been the quick evolution of the pandemic into a partisan issue. 

In the News

The Left’s Plan To Make Cities More Powerful

featuring Jonathan Roddenvia Education News
Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Jonathan Rodden is unhappy. In American elections, Democrats often receive a larger number of votes than their Republican rivals, but they nevertheless frequently fail to win elections. “In most democracies, the path to victory is simple: win more votes than your competitors. 

InterviewsPolitics

Jonathan Rodden: Why The Left Loses Elections

interview with Jonathan Roddenvia Jacobin Magazine
Friday, January 3, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Jonathan Rodden talks about about the Left’s geography problem, the role of gerrymandering and voter suppression, and the prospects for reshaping political parties and electoral institutions.

Interviews

Jonathan Rodden: Why Cities Are Less Powerful In U.S. National Politics

interview with Jonathan Roddenvia City Lab
Thursday, September 26, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Jonathan Rodden discusses his book Why Cities Lose: The Deep Roots of the Urban-Rural Political Divide, as well as the origins of America’s urban-rural political divide and how economic geography shapes elections

Interviews

City Talks: Jonathan Rodden On The Deep Roots Of The Urban-Rural Political Divide

interview with Jonathan Roddenvia Centre for Cities
Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Jonathan Rodden discusses his book Why Cities Lose: The Deep Roots of the Urban-Rural Political Divide, as well as the origins of America’s urban-rural political divide and how economic geography shapes elections – both in the USA and beyond.

Interviews

The Rural-Urban Divide With Jonathan Rodden

interview with Jonathan Roddenvia Rural Matters
Monday, August 26, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Jonathan Rodden says geography matters in the United States because we’re divided into electoral districts, which can be a good thing but has a downside in being a major determinant in who wins an election. Rodden notes that the rural vote will be critical in the 2020 election, but economics will not be the only determinant as social issues, such as abortion, gun rights, race, and immigration, will also play a part.

Interviews

Jonathan Rodden: Poll Hub: Geography Matters

interview with Jonathan Roddenvia Marist Poll
Friday, August 16, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Jonathan Rodden discusses his new book, Why Cities Lose: The Deep Roots of the Urban-Rural Political Divide. Rodden also talks about the origins of polarization.

Analysis and Commentary

Geography And The Dilemma Of The Left

by Jonathan Roddenvia Medium
Thursday, August 1, 2019
The story of why cities lose in democracies with winner-take-all districts does not begin with the advent of sophisticated gerrymandering or the outbreak of contemporary culture wars.
In the News

Why Democrats Lose

featuring Jonathan Roddenvia City Journal
Wednesday, July 31, 2019

For many urbanites, “rural America” is another way of saying “provincialism.” City-dwellers—especially on the coasts—give a strong impression of disdaining heartland voters and blaming them for unfavorable election results. A liberal policy agenda, they believe, would thrive if not for partisan gerrymandering, which favors sparsely populated areas.

In the News

‘Why Cities Lose’ Review: Where Politics Meets Geography

featuring Jonathan Roddenvia The Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Why have American politics become so polarized? One reason is that in recent years, while Democratic politicians have increased their dominance in urban areas ever further, the traditional rural support base for Democratic candidates in Appalachia and the South has collapsed. Conservative “blue dog” Democrats are nearly extinct.

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