Areas of Expertise (5)
Public Policy and Organizations
Elections and Polling
Ray La Raja's areas of expertise include political parties, interest groups, campaign finance, elections, political participation, American state and local politics, public policy and political reform. He is co-founder and former co-editor of The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics and a member of the Academic Advisory Board of the Campaign Finance Institute. He was past president of the Political Organizations and Parties section of the American Political Science Association. He is co-author, with Brian Schaffner, of Campaign Finance and Political Polarization: When Purists Prevail (Univ. of Michigan Press 2015), which was the winner of the Virginia Gray Best Book Award from the American Political Science Association's State Politics and Policy section. He has a forthcoming co-authored book with Brian Schaffner and Jesse Rhodes on inequality in local politics with Cambridge University Press. He is Associate Director of the UMass Poll, which conducts public opinion research in Massachusetts and the United States to inform policymaking.
University of California, Berkeley: Ph.D., Political Science
Harvard University: Master in Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University: A.B., History and Literature
Press Coverage (3)
The Changing Shape of the Parties Is Changing Where They Get Their Money
The New York Times print
A column about the changing ways that political parties raise money, quotes Ray J. La Raja who says it’s not too surprising that President Donald Trump has raised more money from small donors because Trump ignites the passions in individual donors.
What if Beating Trump Is the Easy Part?
The New Yotk Times print
"Ray La Raja, a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, voiced the consensus view of the strategists and scholars I contacted: 'A Senate win is critical. Otherwise, we are back to a standoff between a Democratic President and Mitch McConnell'."
One place Trump gained in Mass.: heavily Latino cities
CommonWealth magazine print
UMass Amherst Professor Ray La Raja says Latinos often bring a perspective that can’t be pigeonholed into a clear ideological camp. “Latinos still support the Democratic ticket,” he said. But he said that doesn’t translate to uniform support for every position being advanced in the party. “When you have elements of the Democratic Party calling for defunding the police, that is the last thing people in some of these communities want to hear,” said La Raja.
Too Much Democracy Is Bad for DemocracyThe Atlantic
Jonathan Rauch and Ray La Raja
The major American parties have ceded unprecedented power to primary voters. It’s a radical experiment—and it’s failing.
Democratic Party’s pluralism is both a strength and weaknessSalon
Raymond J. La Raja
"Democrats never agree on anything, that’s why they’re Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they’d be Republicans.” Much has changed since humorist Will Rogers said that in the 1930s, but he got it mostly right.
Detecting and Understanding Donor Strategies in Midterm ElectionsPolitical Research Quarterly
Jesse H. Rhodes, Brian F. Schaffner, Raymond J. La Raja
What explains how political donors decide where to give? Existing research indicates that people donate money to express support for a preferred political “team” and enjoy the emotional benefits of participating in politics. While this explains why people donate, it does little to help understand the different strategies that donors may pursue.
Re-engineering politicians: How activist groups choose our candidates—long before we voteBrookings
Jonathan Rauch and Raymond J. La Raja
Political analysts sometimes refer to the process by which candidacies emerge and test their viability as the "invisible primary": activities like candidate recruitment, training, networking, grassroots cultivation, and more.