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Raymond L. La Raja - University of Massachusetts Amherst. Amherst, MA, US

Raymond L. La Raja Raymond L. La Raja

Professor of Political Science / Associate Director of UMass Poll | University of Massachusetts Amherst


Ray La Raja's research interests include political parties, interest groups, elections, campaign finance and political participation.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Public Policy and Organizations

Elections and Polling

Political Science

Campaign Finance

American Politics


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.


Video Appearances





Social Science Matters: Ray la Raja, Associate Professor of Political Science Ray La Raja Ray La Raja discusses political impact of COVID-19


Education (3)

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.

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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'."

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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.

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Publications (4)

Too Much Democracy Is Bad for Democracy

The 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.

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Democratic Party’s pluralism is both a strength and weakness


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.

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Detecting and Understanding Donor Strategies in Midterm Elections

Political 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.

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Re-engineering politicians: How activist groups choose our candidates—long before we vote


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.

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