Welcome! I am a political scientist who writes about federalism, presidential politics, and geographic inequality. I teach American politics and research methods in the Department of Government at Colby College.
My scholarly work has appeared in Perspectives on Politics, Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Studies in American Political Development, Journal of Policy History, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Political Research Quarterly, Education and Urban Society, and The Forum.
Much of my work focuses on the institutional presidency and its ability to pursue policy and political objectives within state and local governing institutions. Scholars often portray federalism as a Congressional prerogative. My research suggests otherwise. Presidents are remarkably successful in using budgetary and administrative power in cities, counties, and states in pursuit of their own interests, and seek to do so even when they conflict with Congressional preferences. As a result, presidentialism has contributed to the growing divide between urban and rural places across the country. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods, I document why and trace how presidents have leveraged subnational administrative power for these partisan goals, and how public opinion feeds back into presidential decision-making.
In addition, I am currently completing a book manuscript with Sidney Milkis on the transformation of the Democratic and Republican parties since the 1960s - the demise of America's "vital center." This work complements my more behaviorally-oriented scholarship, which seeks to better understand through experimental and survey-based methods how geography, place, and distance matter for political attitudes.
You can find working papers and an extended discussion of my current research under the "research" tab. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions about my work or my classes.
Nicholas Frederick Jacobs
Waterville, Maine 04901
Diamond Hall 259
(207) – 859 – 5315 • email@example.com