Jennifer Victor, Ph.D.

George Mason University

Country: United States (Virginia)

About Me:

Jennifer Nicoll Victor is Associate Professor of Political Science at George Mason University’s Schar School Policy and Government, where she serves as the Director of undergraduate programs. She studies the U.S. Congress, legislative organization and behavior, social network methods, political parties, campaign finance, and interest groups and lobbying.  She is the co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Political Networks (2017). She is the co-author (with Nils Ringe) of Bridging the Information Gap: Legislative Member Organizations in the United States and the European Union (U. Michigan Press 2013). Professor Victor has published research in the American Journal of Political Science, theBritish Journal of Political ScienceAmerican Politics ResearchParty Politics, Interest Groups & Advocacy, P.S.: Political Science and Politics, and elsewhere. She is a co-founding contributor to the political science blog “Mischiefs of Faction” on, and has blogged for The ConversationMediumOUP BlogLSE US Politics blog. She holds a Ph.D. (2003) and an M.A. (1999), in Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis, and a B.A. in Political Science from University of California, San Diego (1997).  She serves on the Board of Directors of the non-profit, non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. She is the past president of the National Capital Area Political Science Association, and past Chair of the APSA organized section on Political Networks. In 2005 she served as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow in the office of Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND).  From 2003-2012 she was an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh.  She joined the faculty at George Mason in 2012.

Research Interests

Networks And Politics

Campaign Finance

Legislative Politics

Political Parties and Interest Groups

Research Methods & Research Design

U.S. Congress

Legislative Behavior

Campaign Finance

Network Analysis

Social Networks

American Political Parties

Countries of Interest

United States

My Research:

My research is broadly motivated by understanding politics as relationships. The various ways that political actors, like legislators, lobbyists, and voters, form coalitions with one another represent the connective tissue between our political institutions. My work analyzes the challenges and benefits of the strategies these actors pursue as they seek to achieve their political goals. To that end I've studied the ways interest groups strategically lobby members of Congress, the ways lobbyists strategically donate to members of Congress, the ways legislators are connected to one another in ways that affect their legislative behavior, and the ways parties determine which groups to include in their coalitions. I use quantitative tools that draw from the best of econometic and sociological methodological traditions that give me leverage on studying this nexus of individualism and networks.


Journal Articles:

(2013) Keeping Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer? Information Networks in Legislative Politics, British Journal of Political Science

The authors contribute to the existing literature on the determinants of legislative voting by offering a social network-based theory about the ways that legislators’ social relationships affect floor voting behaviour. It is argued that legislators establish contacts with both political friends and enemies, and that they use the information they receive from these contacts to increase their confidence in their own policy positions. Social contacts between political allies have greater value the more the two allies agree on policy issues, while social contacts between political adversaries have greater value the more the two adversaries disagree on policy issues. To test these propositions, we use social network analysis tools and demonstrate how to account for network dependence using a multilevel modelling approach. Co-authored with Nils Ringe and Justin H. Gross

Books Written:

(2017) The Oxford Handbook of Political Networks, Oxford University Press

This volume represents a foundational resource on the study of networks in politics. This introductory essay sets the stage for the 43 essays in the volume, which revolve around three central questions: What is political network analysis? How does it provide insight to important political phenomena? Why is it crucial for all political analysts to engage in network analysis? Our opening argument is that networks are crucial for the study of politics and can bridge the micro-macro divide. After providing a brief history of the application of networks in political science, we engage in a visual analysis of the development of the literature in political networks. In this investigation we show the cross-cutting ties among academic subfields and highlight the central contributions to the literature. We provide an overview of the chapters of this volume, and conclude with our thoughts on the future of political network analysis. Co-edited with Alexander H. Montgomery and Mark Lubell

(2013) Bridging the Information Gap: Legislative Member Organizations in the United States and the European Union, University of Michigan Press

Why do legislators invest scarce time and resources into forming and maintaining voluntary groups that provide few obvious benefits? Legislative member organizations (LMOs)—such as caucuses in the US Congress and intergroups in the European Parliament (EP)—exist in numerous law-making bodies around the world. Yet unlike parties and committees, LMOs play no obvious and pre-defined role in the legislative process. “Bridging the Information Gap” argues that LMOs provide legislators with opportunities to establish social relationships with colleagues with whom they share a common interest in an issue or theme. The social networks composed of these relationships, in turn, offer valuable opportunity structures for the efficient exchange of policy-relevant information between legislative offices. Building on classic insights from the study of social networks, the authors demonstrate that LMO networks are composed of weak, bridging ties that cut across party and committee lines, thus providing lawmakers with access to otherwise unattainable information and making all members of the network better informed. Building on a comparative approach, the book provides an overview of the existence of LMOs across advanced, liberal democracies and offers two nuanced case studies of LMOs in the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress. These case studies rely on a mixed method set-up that garners the respective strengths of social network analysis, sophisticated statistical methods, and careful qualitative analysis of a large number of in-depth interviews. Co-authored with Nils Ringe

Media Appearances:

TV Appearances:

(2017) Al Jazeera Arabic

Simultaneous translation news interview on use of filibusters in the US Senate.

(2017) Al Jazeera Arabic

Simultaneous translation interview regarding Trump administration official Michael Flynn

(2016) India Today

Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump: Who will America choose?

(2016) BBC

Election Day 2016

Blog Posts:

(2018) Mischiefs of Faction - VOX

Use Big Data to Explain Politics Rather than Predict It

(2018) The Conversation

Shutdown under a Unified Government? Blame Trump

(2017) OUP Blog

To Understand Modern Politics, Focus on Groups, Not Individuals

(2017) Medium

The Persistence of America’s Political Polarization

(2017) Mischiefs of Faction - VOX

The Dangers of Partisan Animosity

(2017) Mischiefs of Faction - VOX

How to Distinguish Conservative Policy Actions from Democracy-Threatening Actions

(2016) Mischiefs of Faction - VOX

The chaos in the GOP reveals the flaw in democracy we don't usually see

(2016) The Conversation

What's a party platform good for?


(2016) SpareMin

Podcast style discussion of my research on legislative caucuses.