Gyung-Ho Jeong (Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis, 2008) studies American politics, focusing on Congress. He has projects on congressional politics of civil rights, immigration, trade, and foreign policy. He is also interested in party politics (party polarization and party position change) and the politics of bureaucratic delegation. His research has appeared in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, and Political Analysis.

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Winter 2017

POLI333A Issues in Comparative Politics - ISSUES COMP PLTC Sections

An examination of a major issue in comparative politics (e.g., the media, gender, nationalism, ethnic conflict). Topics will vary from year to year.

Winter 2017

POLI320A Government and Politics of the United States of America - GOVRT&POLTCS USA Sections

The distinctive political system of the U.S. Covers all major institutions and processes, focusing on contemporary issues. Comparisons with the Canadian system. Sources of political failure and possible reform.

Winter 2017

POLI420C Advanced Topics in Comparative Politics - ADV TPCS CMP PLI Sections

Seminar in comparative analysis of politics in democratic systems. For specific content in a given year, consult the departmental website.

Winter 2017

POLI516B Issues in Comparative Politics - COMPAR POLITICS Sections

Testing the Predictions of the Multidimensional Spatial Voting Model with Roll Call Data, Political Analysis, 2008, 16(2): 179-196. Supplemental Material.

This paper develops a procedure for locating proposals and legislators in a multidimensional policy space by applying agenda-constrained ideal point estimation. Placing proposals and legislators on the same scale allows an empirical test of the predictions of the spatial voting model. I illustrate this procedure by testing the predictive power of the uncovered set—a solution concept of the multidimensional spatial voting model—using roll call data from the U.S. Senate. Since empirical tests of the predictive power of the uncovered set have been limited to experimental data, this is the first empirical test of the concept’s predictive power using real world data.


Political Compromise and Bureaucratic Structure: The Political Origins of the Federal Reserve System, Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization. 2009, 25(2): 472-498. (with Gary J. Miller and Andrew C. Sobel)

What is the origin of the structural independence of the Federal Reserve System? Unlike existing explanations on central bank independence, we show that the structural independence of the Fed is not the result of intentional design but a product of compromise among disparate groups. Using agenda-constrained ideal point estimation techniques to estimate both the preferences of Senators on key questions of Fed structure and the locations of alternative forms of the bill with respect to those preferences, we show that the structural features of the Fed in final bill differed markedly from the original preferences of legislators representing competing groups, and that the result was a compromise that offered the prospect of significant independence for the new agency. The Fed case shows that political compromise can provide useful bureaucratic insulation when the short-term incentives of political principals promote unstable, self-seeking policy choices.


Constituent Influence on International Trade Policy in the United States, 1987 to 2006, International Studies Quarterly, 2009, 53(2): 519-540. Supplemental Material.

The debate on whether class-based or industry-based coalitions are politically salient in American trade politics has illuminated domestic sources of international trade policy but remains unresolved. In particular, the literature offers contradictory evidence on the dominance in recent years of class-based or industry-based trade politics. This contradiction is mainly due to selective use of congressional votes. This paper contributes to this debate by introducing a method that allows for the efficient use of congressional votes and takes into account vote-specific characteristics. Applying a hierarchical ideal point estimation technique to all trade-related votes in the U.S. Senate since 1987, I show that class-based coalitions are politically salient in current U.S. trade politics.


Closing the Deal: Negotiating Civil Rights Legislation, American Political Science Review. 2009, 103(4): 588-606. (with Gary J. Miller and Itai Sened)

Our investigation of the Senate politics of four major civil rights acts indicates that they did not result from winning coalitions bulldozing helpless minorities, nor did they result from some unpredictable chaotic process. These critical bills were the result of a flexible, multidimensional coalition-building process that proceeded by offering amendments carefully constructed to split off pivotal members of the winning coalition. Ideal point estimates of U.S. Senators reveal that this coalitional negotiation process led to outcomes at some distance from the first choice of the winning coalition, testimony to significant compromise, both in early proposals and in refinements. This negotiation process resulted in outcomes apparently constrained by the boundaries of the uncovered set (Miller 1980; McKelvey 1986). “Closing the deal” in the U.S. Senate meant finding an outcome that could withstand robust attacks on pivotal coalition members-and that meant finding an outcome in the uncovered set.


Cracks in the Opposition: Immigration as a Wedge Issue for the Reagan Coalition, American Journal of Political Science, 2011, 55(3): 511-525. (with Gary J. Miller, Camilla Schofield, and Itai Sened.) Supplemental Material.

The absence of a core means that a majority coalition can never choose a policy that will keep it safe from minority appeals to its pivotal members. In two dimensions, strategic minorities will always be able to offer pivotal voters attractive policy concessions. We argue that this instability of multidimensional politics explains why minorities raise wedge issues and how wedge issues result in partisan realignment in legislative politics. Applying agenda-constrained ideal point estimation techniques to immigration debates, we show that the Reagan coalition–pro-business and social conservatives–has been vulnerable on the wedge issue of immigration and that parties have switched their positions on immigration over the three decades. We use the uncovered set as the best-fit theoretical solution concept in this legislative environment, to capture the limits of majority rule coalitional possibilities and policy change in the two-dimensional absence of a core.


Congressional Politics of U.S. Immigration Reforms: Legislative Outcomes Under Multidimensional Negotiations, Political Research Quarterly 2013, 66(3) 600-614. Supplemental Material.

How are legislative outcomes shaped by multidimensional negotiations?  Examining the legislative politics of U.S. immigration reforms, I show how alternating coalitions in multidimensional negotiations produce centrist legislative outcomes. In doing so, this article sheds light on a puzzling aspect of immigration policy—namely, the gap that exists between public opinion and legislative outcomes. My investigation of major immigration bills in 1986, 1996, and 2006 shows that the multidimensional nature of immigration debates contributed to the lack of dramatic reforms, by allowing legislative minorities to form alternating coalitions to block any dramatic changes.


How Preferences Change Institutions: The 1978 Energy Act, Journal of Politics 2014, 72(2) 430-445.  (with William R. Lowry, Gary J. Miller, and Itai Sened.) Data and Code


In this article, we advance a generic theory of institutional change and illustrate it through a study of the Gas Deregulation Act of 1977–78. The passage of the Act provides an informative case study about institutional change as an innovative postcloture filibuster was implemented, and then defeated, in the course of the debate. Contrary to Shepsle’s argument that institutions determine outcomes, we argue that the legislative majority shaped the institution to get the policy outcome it wanted. We find evidence that negotiations among competing coalitions constrained outcomes to be inside the uncovered set. When the filibuster-related rules threatened to lead to an outcome outside of the uncovered set, the rules were changed to avoid this outcome. Our analysis calls into question both the view of majority rule as generically leading to chaos and the view that institutions are the essential tool to overcome such instability.

Electoral Rules and Bureaucratic Effectiveness, Politics and Policy 2016, 44(6): 1089-1115.
Literature on comparative institutions shows that electoral and constitutional rules affect the behavior of politicians, while the literature on political control of bureaucracies demonstrates how politicians exercise control on bureaucracies and affect their performance. This paper explores how electoral rules affect bureaucratic effectiveness. In particular, we hypothesize that personal vote-seeking incentives drive legislators to specialize in legislative committees to develop their personal reputations. Once legislators specialize in legislative committees, they are in a better position to increase bureaucratic effectiveness. Drawing on the World Bank index of bureaucratic effectiveness, this study finds significant associations between the personal vote-seeking incentive, legislative specialization, and bureaucratic effectiveness. However, these associations are restricted to presidential systems, where the separation of powers makes legislative specialization in committees a key mechanism for effective bureaucratic oversight.


Measuring Foreign Policy Positions of Members of the US Congress, Political Science Research and Methods, Forthcoming.

Studies have shown that a foreign policy position of a member of Congress is often distinct from a domestic one. Despite this, measures commonly used to determine the foreign policy positions of members of Congress are based on congressional votes on domestic as well as foreign policy matters. As foreign policy votes take up only a small portion of all congressional votes, these measures conflate a member’s foreign policy position with his or her domestic policy position. While there are other measures based exclusively on foreign policy votes, these are also problematic because they tend to use a small number of controversial votes and thus inflate extremism. To address these shortcomings, I present a new measure by applying a Bayesian item response theory model to all foreign policy votes. This paper demonstrates the similarities, differences, and advantages of this measure by comparing it with the existing measures in a series of analyses of foreign policy positions of political parties and individual legislators.


Division at the Water‘s Edge: The Polarization of Foreign Policy, American Politics Research, Forthcoming.


Severe party conflict, not a high-minded suspension of politics, now prevails “at the water’s edge.” Democrats and Republicans fight pitched battles over foreign affairs. But are the two parties polarized in their substantive preferences on foreign policy, or mainly jockeying for partisan advantage? Are they polarized on foreign policy less sharply than on domestic policy? What are the sources of party polarization over foreign policy? Using a new measure of senatorial foreign-policy preferences from 1945-2010, we explore party polarization over foreign policy. We find that foreign-policy preferences have had varying relationships with party politics and general ideology. Since the 1960s, however, the parties have become increasingly polarized on foreign policy. Using a multilevel analysis, we show that foreign-policy polarization has developed in response to partisan electoral rivalry, foreign-policy events, and general ideological polarization. The analysis indicates an increasing influence of domestic politics on foreign policy.


The Supermajority Core of the US Senate and the Failure to Join the League of Nations, Public Choice, Forthcoming. 


The failure of the United States to join the League of Nations is often considered to be an outcome of isolationist influence. The supermajority requirement of treaty ratification in the US Senate also is blamed for allowing a minority of isolationists to block the will of the majority that supported the treaty. To determine the cause of the failure, I analyze the Senate debate over the treaty using the concepts of the supermajority core and supermajority winset. Using all 157 votes on the treaty, I estimate senatorial positions and the locations of both the status quo and the treaty on the same metric space. From this analysis, I find that isolationists were not influential enough to block the ratification. Instead, President Wilson’s unwillingness to compromise is found to have played a critical role in the treaty’s defeat. The treaty’s defeat thus was not an indication of the power of isolationism. This study contributes to the growing body of literature that debunks claims about the dominance of isolationism in the interwar period. At the same time, the paper demonstrates how the core and winset concepts can be useful in answering substantive collective choice questions.


Click here for his CV.

Research Agenda

My research agenda can be divided into four research programs related to legislative politics.

1. My main research program has sought to move beyond the assumption of unidimensional politics (e.g., left vs. right or liberal vs. conservative) in order to improve our understanding of legislative politics. As demonstrated by the co-existence of both social/cultural and economic dimensions in US politics, legislative politics is often better characterized by multidimensionality. For this, my research has combined the development of the spatial model with advances in the measurement of legislators’ preferences and policy outcomes/locations (PA 2008). With these measures, I have applied the spatial model or social choice theory—such as the core, uncovered set, and winset—to deepen our understanding of the dynamics of legislative negotiations (APSR 2009; PRQ 2013), the choice of legislative procedures (JOP 2014), the determinants of policy outcomes (JLEO2009; Forthcoming at Public Choice), and the dynamics of party realignment (AJPS 2011). My most recent project in this program extends the decision-making framework from simple majority to supermajority (Forthcoming at Public Choice) to examine the process of Senate treaty-making. Currently, I am working on projects that incorporate presidential veto, filibuster, and bicameralism into the analysis to extend unidimensional models of congressional lawmaking, such as the pivotal politics model, to multidimensional settings.

In addition to this research program, I have developed three research programs that explore substantive questions related to legislative politics.  These include: 

2. Congress and Foreign Policy: I have been working on several projects related to the role of the US Congress with regard to defense and foreign policy. I have measured legislative preferences on various foreign policy issues (ISQ 2009; PRQ 2013; Forthcoming at PSRM). I then have used these measures to examine party polarization on trade (ISQ 2009), foreign and defense policy (Forthcoming at APR), and the dynamics of relations between the majority party and the House Armed Services Committee (Working Paper). Currently, I have a series of projects that examine how Congress has exercised its power of the purse—specifically, policy riders on foreign and defense spending bills—to affect foreign and defense policy. I also have projects that examine the influence of isolationism on US foreign policy before WWII.

3. Party politics in Congress: My research has contributed to our understanding on party realignment and polarization. In particular, I have examined how political parties have changed their positions on immigration (AJPS 2011), how political parties have become polarized with regard to trade (ISQ 2009) and foreign and defense policy (Forthcoming at APR), and how the cohesion of the majority party has affected its relationship with a constituency committee, such as the House Armed Services Committee (Working Paper). My work forthcoming at APR has found that the major political parties switched their positions on foreign and defense policy in the late 1950s and 1960s. I plan to examine how the parties changed their positions on foreign and defense policy in the context of the multidimensionality of foreign policy viewpoints (that is, how the change was facilitated by the shift of the main dimension from issues of nationalism vs. internationalism to those of unilateralism vs. multilateralism).  

4. Legislative Politics of Bureaucratic Delegation: I have been working on projects which explore how legislators affect both the independence and performance of bureaucracies. In Jeong,Miller, and Sobel (2009), we examine how negotiations among legislators representing diverse interests contributed to the creation of the Federal Reserve. In Jeong (2016), I explore the ways in which legislative incentives to seek a personal vote and legislative specialization on legislative committees affect the performance of bureaucracies beyond the US case.