Paul Herrnson earned his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his BA at Binghamton University. He is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Connecticut. His primary interests include political parties and elections, money and politics, and voting systems and election administration. He teaches courses on campaigns and elections and other aspects of American politics.
Areas of Expertise (9)
American Institutions and Politics
Money and Politics
University of Wisconsin-Madison: Ph.D., Political Science 1986
University of Wisconsin-Madison: M.A., Political Science 1983
State University of New York: B.A, Political Science 1981
- American Political Science Association : Member
- Midwest Political Science Association : Member
- New England Political Science Association : Member
- Southern Political Science Association: Past President
- Journal of Election Administration Research & Practice : Editorial Board
- American Politics Review : Editorial Board
Board of Regents Award for Public Service, University System of Maryland
Award for Outstanding Teaching in Political Science, American Political Science Association and Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science National Honor Society
Edward M. Johnson, Jr. Memorial Faculty Fellowship, University of Maryland
2010 - 2013
Media Appearances (6)
Records show George Santos made questionable payments to vendors, experts say
Paul Herrnson, a University of Connecticut political science professor who focuses on issues such as money in politics, said the federal campaign finance system is “really built around the notion of disclosure."
‘It’s the Economy Stupid,’ New Poll Shows Tightening Races for Governor and Senate
The Connecticut Examiner online
Paul Herrnson, a political scientist at the University of Connecticut, said Lamont’s lead over Stefanowski, if sustained, would actually be a “big victory” given the pandemic and the economy “not doing that well.”
Campaign Spending at Trump Properties Down, but Not Out
“Given Trump is no longer president and there is less need to curry favor with him, congressional incumbents and party committees may choose less expensive venues,” said Paul Herrnson, a political science professor at the University of Connecticut.
Record fundraising in Georgia Senate races the new norm, experts say
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution online
“Georgia just became a target for an influx of money from everywhere,” said Paul Herrnson, a professor of political science at the University of Connecticut and a fellow at the Center for Responsive Politics. “It came down to huge stakes in Georgia. However, the more recent trends explain why the stakes are so huge.”
Blackstone's Schwarzman emerges as Wall Street's top political donor
“Schwarzman, like many Republican donors, believes this will be a close election,” said Paul Herrnson, a political science professor at the University of Connecticut and research fellow at the Center for Responsive Politics.
Ocasio-Cortez builds political army, and a fundraising machine to match
The Hill online
Paul Herrnson, a political science professor at the University of Connecticut who studies campaign finance and congressional elections, said $6 million is “quite a bit for a person in a safe district to spend.”
Most voters skipped ‘in person on Election Day’ when offered a choice of how and when to voteThe Conversation
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, state lawmakers, election administrators and others realized they had to move quickly. A presidential election was coming in just a few months, along with elections for every seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, one-third of the U.S. Senate, and all sorts of state and local positions. Primary season was already underway. And nobody was sure how safe it would be to vote in person at polling places. Ultimately, the collective efforts of these public servants delivered an election with a turnout rate higher than any in the past century. Almost 67% of eligible voters cast a ballot. This happened even as the pandemic swept the nation – and the globe.
The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Election Administration, Voting Options, and Turnout in the 2020 US ElectionPublius The Journal of Federalism
Paul Herrnson, Michael J. Hanmer, Matthew Weil, and Rachel Orey
2022 COVID-19 had a major impact on how some states administered the 2020 election and little effect on others. Using a new dataset, we identify the options states introduced to make voting safer, the measures they took to encourage voters to use these options, and the options’ effects on voter turnout. We show that most states introduced few, if any, significant changes in voting policies. We identify relationships between the states’ responses and preexisting election policies, party control of government, and other state characteristics. We also demonstrate the introduction of safe voting options had an effect on aggregate voter turnout. The results give insights into factors that influence election policymaking and the prospects for future election reforms.
Vive la Différence? Is There a Gender Gap in Campaign Strategy and Spending, and Does it Matter?Journal of Women, Politics & Policy
Paul Herrnson, Charles R. Hunt and Jaclyn J. Kettler
2022 Record numbers of women were elected into office in the US in recent years, and campaign financing may have contributed to their successes. This raises two questions: Is there a gender gap in campaign strategy and spending? And if there is, does it have an impact on election outcomes? Using a new dataset that includes itemized campaign expenditures for the almost 3,500 candidates who contested a House election between 2012 and 2020, we report little evidence of a gender gap in candidates’ campaign spending, but we find some differences in the effects of communications spending on women’s and men’s electoral performances. Female challengers, in particular, must spend more to achieve the same results as men. The findings provide yet another indicator that congressional elections are an uneven playing field, and women must work harder than men to get elected. The results have implications for elections, representation, and public policy.
The Impact of State Party Organization on the Voting ExperienceElection Law Journal
Paul Herrnson, Jay Goodliffe, Richard G. Niemi and Kelly D. Patterson
2020 Nowhere in the U.S. is federalism more evident than in the administration of elections, as the Constitution and historical practice leave this largely in the hands of the states (and even counties within states). Consequently, voters across jurisdictions are likely to have different experiences at the polls. We examine the impact of state party organization, as described by Mayhew, on the frequency of partisan vs. non-partisan elections, the number of ballot propositions, and other election characteristics; on administrative issues such as ballot layout, voting system type, and voting method; and on public evaluations of the voting experience and election reform. Using a national survey of 2,000 individuals combined with information about ballots and voting systems, we find that state party organizations and cultures have a significant impact on numerous aspects of voting.
The Impact of Electoral Arrangements on Minority Representation: District Magnitude and the Election of African American State LegislatorsElection Law Journal
Paul Herrnson, Stella M. Rouse and Jeffrey A. Taylor
2020 Previous research shows that multimember districts (MMDs) disadvantage African American candidates. However, these studies focus on only a few aspects of the electoral process and they may be time bound. Using a new dataset, we examine the impact of district magnitude (the number of candidates elected from a single constituency) on the emergence, nomination, and general election of African Americans to state legislatures. Using data from recent elections to the Maryland state legislature, we find no evidence that district magnitude dims the electoral prospects of African American candidates. Our findings suggest that biases attributed to MMDs may have resulted from laws, partisan practices, customs, and political attitudes. The implementation of the Voting Rights Act, broad societal changes, and strategic adjustments by Black candidates and voters may have mitigated the effects of previous biases resulting in the election of more African Americans in MMDs and other districts.
Mobilization Around New Convenience Voting Methods: A Field Experiment to Encourage Voting by Mail with a Downloadable Ballot and Early VotingPolitical Behavior
Paul Herrnson, Michael J. Hanmer and Ho Youn Koh
2019 Election reform has allowed citizens in many states to choose among convenience voting methods. We report on a field experiment that tests messages derived from theories about government responsiveness, choice, information, and convenience on the methods that citizens use to vote, namely early voting, absentee voting by mail, and absentee voting using a ballot downloaded from the internet. We find that any treatment discussing a downloadable ballot increases its usage, and the only treatment to increase use of the early voting option emphasized its implementation as a response to citizen demand. Treatments presenting the full range of convenience voting options increase turnout slightly. The most effective treatments also influence the behavior of others in the recipient’s household. Overall, the results demonstrate the efficacy of impersonal messages on voter behavior. The results have implications for the abilities of election administrators and political campaigners to structure the methods voters use to cast their ballots.