Daniel Galvin

Associate Professor of Political Science | IPR Fellow (on leave, 2018–19)


Daniel Galvin’s research focuses on the development of political institutions, political organizations, and public policy in the United States. He is the author of Presidential Party Building: Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush (Princeton University Press, 2010), numerous scholarly articles and book chapters, and co-editor of Rethinking Political Institutions: The Art of the State (NYU Press, 2006). His current research examines the effects of organized labor's decline on public policy, party politics, and the working poor.

Galvin recently received a Russell Sage Foundation (RSF) presidential authority grant for his research on “The New Politics of Workers’ Rights.” Previously, he was awarded the “Emerging Scholar Award” from the American Political Science Association’s Political Organizations and Parties section, the E. LeRoy Hall Award for Excellence in Teaching from Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern, the R. Barry Farrell Teaching Award from the Department of Political Science, and was twice elected by the Northwestern student body to the Faculty Honor Roll.

Current Research

The New Politics of Workers’ Rights. In response to the “ossification” and “drift” of New Deal-era labor law, a new politics of workers’ rights has emerged in new venues (state and local levels), focusing on new governing institutions (employment law), working through new organizational forms (“alt-labor”), and employing new strategies (policy advocacy, corporate campaigns, street-level protests). These developments have invigorated but also complicated the labor movement, generating new problems without solving the problems produced by labor law’s drift in the first place. In this project, Galvin theorizes the links between labor law’s “drift” and these subsequent developments, tests hypotheses with original quantitative and qualitative data, and considers their implications for the changing politics of workers’ rights.

Policy Feedback and Party-Building. Galvin is engaged in several ongoing research projects examining the relationship between policy feedback and party-building. One project investigates the tendency of Democratic presidents to treat public policy as an alternative to organizational party-building; another—with IPR political scientist Chloe Thurston—considers the limited ability of policy feedback processes to cement partisan loyalties more generally; and a third looks at the differences between the two major parties in how they view the relationship between policy-building and party-building.

Wage Theft and Public Policy. Is “wage theft” exclusively an economic phenomenon or is there a political dimension to it as well? A long tradition of scholarship holds that the employer’s incentive to underpay employees rises with expected economic benefits, while the government-imposed costs are so low as to be effectively irrelevant. But this literature has narrowly focused on the federal-level regulatory regime, ignoring the rich variety of penalty schemes that operate in tandem at the state level. Using an original dataset of state-level wage-and-hour laws, new estimates of minimum wage violations, and a variety of statistical tests, Galvin finds that stronger penalties can serve as an effective deterrent against wage theft, but the structure of the policy matters a great deal, as does its enforcement. Wage theft must therefore be seen as the result of policy choices—which are shaped by advocacy group pressures and political alignments—and not solely economic forces. Additional research in this area examines the effects of organized labor’s decline on public policy, workers’ rights, and party politics. 

Rust Belt Democrats. Since the 1970s, left-leaning parties around the world have been under pressure to adapt to changing economic and political conditions. With globalization and deindustrialization shrinking organized labor’s membership base and undermining the credibility of traditional social-democratic policy agendas, these parties have faced incentives to develop new policy initiatives and court new electoral constituencies. The U.S. Democratic Party is usually thought to have responded to these incentives slowly, poorly, or not at all, and this is presumed to help explain its electoral difficulties since the Reagan presidency. To investigate this, Galvin turns to the Rust Belt, the region hit hardest by globalization-related trends. He uncovers surprising variation in the adaptive capacities of Democratic parties in four of the heaviest manufacturing states—Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Drawing upon quantitative analysis and extensive primary source research including interviews with participants and difficult-to-find state party platforms, Galvin finds that these parties’ historical ties to organized labor, urban machines, and liberal interest groups (in different proportions in each state) had important consequences for their downstream activities.

Selected Publications


Galvin, D. 2010. Presidential Party Building: Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Galvin, D., with Ian Shapiro and Stephen Skowronek, eds. 2006. Rethinking Political Institutions: The Art of the State. New York: NYU Press.

Articles and Book Chapters

Galvin, D. 2017. The "changing of the guard" from labor law to employment law. Labor Studies Journal 42(3).

Galvin, D., and C. Thurston. 2017. The Democrats’ misplaced faith in policy feedbackThe Forum 15(2): 333–44. 

Galvin, D. 2016. Deterring wage theft: Alt-labor, state politics, and the policy determinants of minimum wage compliancePerspectives on Politics 14(2): 324–50.

  • Winner of the Best Paper on Public Policy Award, APSA section on Public Policy

Galvin, D. 2016. Political parties in American politics. In The Oxford Handbook of Historical Institutionalism, ed. Orfeo Fioretos, Tulia Falleti, and Adam Sheingate. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Galvin, D. 2015. Qualitative methods and American political development. In The Oxford Handbook of American Political Development, ed. Richard M. Valelly, Suzanne Mettler, and Robert Lieberman. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Subject of symposium “Responses to Daniel J. Galvin’s “Qualitative Methods and American Political Development” in Clio Newsletter of Politics & History 24(2): Summer 2015, with essays by A. Chatterjee, A. Colbern, and G. G. Dodds. 
  • Subject of Author Meets Critics roundtable panel at the annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, Ill., April 7, 2016.

Galvin, D. 2015. Taking the long view: Presidents in a system stacked against them. In Recapturing the Oval Office: New Historical Approaches to the American Presidency, ed. Brian Balogh and Bruce J. Schulman. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Galvin, D. 2014. Presidents as agents of change. Presidential Studies Quarterly 44(1): 95–119.

Galvin, D. 2013. Presidential partisanship reconsidered: Eisenhower, Nixon, and Ford and the rise of polarized politics. Political Research Quarterly 66(1): 46–60.

Galvin, D. 2012. The transformation of political institutions: Investments in institutional resources and gradual change in the national party committees. Studies in American Political Development 26(1): 50–70.

Galvin, D. 2012. The dynamics of presidential policy choice and promotion. In Getting Past No in an Age of Partisan Noise: Making Policy to Build Party Coalitions in the 21st Century, ed. M. Levin, D. DiSalvo, and M. Shapiro. Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Galvin, D. 2008. Changing course: Reversing the organizational trajectory of the Democratic Party from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama. The Forum 6(2). 

Galvin, D., with C. Shogan. 2004. Presidential politicization and centralization across the modern-traditional divide. Polity 36:477–504. 

Other Writings

Galvin, D. 2017. Barack Obama’s legacy on party building. The PEP Report: Newsletter of the Presidents & Executive Politics Section of APSA (Spring). 

Galvin, D. 2017. Wage theft is widespread, but politics and policies can play a powerful role in reducing itLondon School of Economics US Centre’s blog on American Politics and Policy, March 13.

Galvin, D. 2017. Presidential constraintsMiller Center Issues & Policy / Governance, January 19. 

Galvin, D. 2016. Combating wage theft under Donald TrumpThe American Prospect, December 22.

Galvin, D. 2016. The 2016 elections and new ‘minority’ Democratic PartyPolitics of Color (official blog of the Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics), November 19.

Galvin, D. 2016. Obama built a policy legacy. But he didn’t do enough to build the Democratic PartyThe Washington Post – Monkey Cage, November 16.

Galvin, D. 2015. How to get paid what you’re owed, in three easy steps. (Okay, maybe not so easy.) The Washington Post – Monkey Cage, September 6.