Political science professor recognized for research

Martin Cohen - APSA award

Dr. Martin Cohen, associate professor of political science at James Madison University, is among a group of researchers to receive the 2014 Jack Walker Award from the American Political Science Association. The award recognizes a published article that makes an outstanding contribution to research and scholarship on political organizations and parties.

The article, “A Theory of Political Parties: Groups, Policy Demands and Nominations in American Politics,” argues that interest groups and activists are the key actors in the presidential nomination process. These coalitions develop common agendas and screen candidates based on loyalty to those agendas.

“Previous scholarship tended to view parties as being controlled by election-minded politicians,” Cohen explains. “It was thought that you have to appeal to moderates in order to get enough people to support you. We found that historically, and especially in modern times, parties seem to be more creatures of these intense policy demanders — religious groups, labor unions, rights organizations and others typically outside the mainstream — who try to hide their true policy goals. They tend to support candidates who are closely aligned with their views but who are also electable. One of the main arenas where this occurs is in the nomination process.”

Cohen and his team began working on the paper while at UCLA, where Cohen earned his master’s degree and doctorate. He collaborated with three of his co-authors on a book about presidential nominations that came out in 2008, and Cohen said the hope is that this most recent article will be expanded on and published as a book.

Cohen is in his eighth year at JMU. He regularly teaches classes on the Christian right, political parties, interest groups and religion in politics.


 Sept. 8, 2014

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Published: Monday, September 8, 2014

Last Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2016

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