Why U.S. Conservatives Shape Legislation across the Fifty States Much More Effectively than Liberals

Source: Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Theda Skocpol, Scholars Strategy Network, Key Findings, April 2015

Always important, the policy clout of the fifty U.S. states has arguably grown in recent years. As gridlock and deficits hamstring Washington DC, innovations sometimes spread across many states – and recent national initiatives such as health reform and tightened clean air standards depend on state implementation. To promote a coordinated policy agenda in many statehouses, conservatives leverage longstanding, well-funded networks of organizations. Liberals, on the other hand, started later and made fitful and incomplete progress at building trans-state policy networks. Only now are they marshalling new resources with a sense of strategic urgency. …. In the 1970s and 1980s, conservative foundations and wealthy patrons funded intertwined cross-state networks of organizations able to formulate and promote model legislation across the states. [ALEC & the State Policy Network]…