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Daniel Galvin

Associate Professor of Political Science

PhD, Political Science, Yale University, 2006

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 changing politics of workers' rights in the United States. 

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. Over the last several decades, as national labor law has “ossified,” the U.S. workplace has “fissured,” and precarious, nonstandard, “bad” jobs have proliferated, a growing number of workers – disproportionately low-wage immigrants, women, and people of color – have become increasingly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse in the workplace. In response, a new politics of workers’ rights has begun to emerge in new venues (state and local levels), focusing on new governing institutions (employment laws), and featuring new organizational forms (worker centers and other “alt-labor” groups), coalitions (including traditional labor unions, community groups, and social movements), and strategies (including innovative efforts to build political power for low-wage workers and their communities). These developments have resulted in new substantive rights and protections for workers and have helped to invigorate the labor movement, but at the same time, they have added new problems without resolving the problems produced by labor law’s drift in the first place. In this project, Galvin uses original quantitative and qualitative data to analyze the new policy innovations and document and assess the political development of alt-labor groups over the first two decades of the 21st century. This research, which has resulted in several journal articles and is currently a book manuscript-in-progress, is supported in part by the Russell Sage Foundation and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

The Political Effects of Policy Drift: Policy Stalemate and American Political Development. In recent years, scholars have made major progress in understanding the dynamics of “policy drift”—the transformation of a policy’s outcomes due to the failure to update its rules or structures to reflect changing socioeconomic circumstances. Amid polarization and gridlock, drift has become an increasingly common mode of policy change, and its major causes are now well understood. Yet surprisingly little attention has been paid to the distinctive political consequences of drift—to the ways in which drift, like the adoption of new policies, generates its own “policy feedback” effects. This project, joint with Jacob Hacker of Yale University, is meant to fill this gap. Galvin and Hacker lay out clear expectations concerning drift’s likely effects on downstream politics—in particular, on the development of institutions and organized groups—and then assess these arguments in the context of four varied cases of drift: labor law, health care, welfare, and disability insurance. Their core argument is that drift generates new incentives, interests, and alliances that simultaneously respond to the disruptive effects it produces and are heavily constrained by those effects. Regardless of whether these dynamics culminate in big reforms, they are one of the principal ways in which American politics and policy “develop.”

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. 2019. “From Labor Law to Employment Law: The Changing Politics of Workers’ Rights,” Studies in American Political Development 33, 1 (April): 50-86

Galvin, D. 2019. “Let’s Not Conflate APD with Political History, and Other Reflections on ‘Causal Inference and American Political Development,’” Public Choice (July): 1-16,

Galvin, D and C. Thurston. 2019. “The Limits of Policy Feedback as a Party-Building Tool.” In Unsettled Time: American Political Development and the Trump Presidency. Philip Rocco and Zachary Callen, eds. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 

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

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

Other Writings

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. 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.