Marjorie Hershey, Ph.D.

Indiana University at Bloomington

Address: Indiana University

City: BLOOMINGTON, Indiana - 47401

Country: United States

About Me:

I am a professor of Political Science and Philanthropic Studies at Indiana University. I teach in the areas of political parties, interest groups, environmental policy, and American politics. 

Research Interests

Elections, Election Administration, and Voting Behavior

Political Parties and Interest Groups

Political Communication

American Political Parties

Media Election Coverage

Campaigns And Elections

Campaign Coverage

Countries of Interest

United States

My Research:

I write a textbook, Party Politics in America. I also research and write about media coverage of politics, including campaigns, elections, and coverage of the presidency. I'm currently also involved in a study of the ways in which political organizations construct their histories - how they interpret major events in their past and what lessons they've learned from those events.


Journal Articles:

(2018) "Assessing the Ideological Extremism of American Party Activists,” in Party Politics (2018), with Nathaniel E. Birkhead),, Party Politics

While we find that ideological extremism, income, and education are most commonly associated with political activism, the relationships are not always straightforward. Although differences in education matter a great deal in determining who votes and who doesn’t, educational differences are substantively unimportant in determining who works for a campaign. Similarly, ideological extremism is strongly related to the likelihood of attempting to influence someone else’s’ vote choice, while extremism does little to motivate one to attend a rally. Moreover, extremism works differently within one form of participation: across the ideological spectrum, the well-educated are likely to report voting. This is not the case among the poorly educated, whose likelihood of voting increases dramatically as their extremism increases. These findings raise important questions about the dominant approach in the literature, which treats different forms of political activities as interchangeable, and equivalent in terms of the types of participants they draw. Second, we find that even when controlling for extremism, different issues motivate political activists. Campaign donors are more likely to be concerned with the social safety net, while button wearers are more concerned with racial and cultural issues. Those motivated to political activity may participate in one way, but not another, depending on the issues that spur their activity. Third, when focusing on the pathways (resources, information, and nominations) where activists are most likely to influence elected officials, we find that extremism tends to motivate activity. Simply put, extremists are more engaged than moderates are. Accordingly, politicians are more likely to hear from, and depend for their campaign resources upon, the more extreme segments of the population. While the CCES does not allow for the creation of a three-factor measure of ideology, it follows from the ANES analysis that candidates are particularly exposed to extremism on social, rather than racial and cultural issues. Fourth, our analysis shows that we need to more carefully specify the relationship between activism and issue/ideological extremism. Much of the literature in this area compares those who engage in several types of activities with those who engage in none. We compare types of activists with one another (including with those who only vote), and we find that there are complex patterns of difference that are not necessarily characterized by the statement that activists are more extreme. It is worth noting that the most striking findings of a strong relationship between activism and extremism have been reported in surveys of national convention delegates, a population that may not be highly representative of the larger population of political activists, and in studies that examine “core partisans” (Bartels 2016) or the “engaged public” (Abramowitz 2010, Chapter 2) – those who not only take part in political activities but who also report political knowledge and interest, concern about election outcomes, and a much higher level of enthusiasm for their own party than for the other party. Our findings, then, raise questions about both the theory and the data on the relationship between activists and political polarization. We offer some support for the common notion that political activists are more likely to be characterized as extreme liberals or conservatives than are other citizens. The relationship between activism and extremism is not as marked or as consistent as it is often portrayed, however, and the findings about attitudes toward specific issues vary by issue. Our data are not intended to question the findings that politically active people are more partisan than are their inactive neighbors, more intense in their political views, or more strongly negative in their affect toward their party’s opposition (Iyengar, Sood, and Lelkes 2012: 413-414). They do suggest, however, that political activists may not be uniformly motivated by ideologically extreme views as has often been assumed.

(1982) "The Constructed Explanation Interpreting Election Results in the 1984 Presidential Race,", Journal of Politics

How political activists and journalists develop explanations for election results, given that the numbers of votes themselves have no intrinsic meaning other than who won and who lost.

Books Written:

(2017) Party Politics in America, 17th ed., Routledge

The main text on American political parties: their organization, activities, ideology, leadership, and impact on citizens and public policy.

(2014) Guide to U.S. Political Parties, sage

Edited volume containing 33 chapters by political scientists expert in all areas of party politics: party organization, voting and elections, parties in government, party ideology, and US parties in comparative perspective.

Book Chapters:

(2020) “The President and the Media: Attacking the Watchdog,”, sage

Presidents have always had a symbiotic relationship with media coverage. President Donald Trump's relationship with the media has differed in a number of ways from that of earlier presidents, including especially his use of social media to promote his own version of events.