Michael Franz

Professor of Government

Teaching this semester

GOV 2080. Quantitative Analysis in Political Science

Examines the use of quantitative methods to study political phenomena. Discusses the nature of empirical thinking and how principles used for years by natural scientists, such as causation and control, have been adopted by social scientists. Introduces what these methods are (such as Chi-square tests, difference of means, and linear regression) and how they might be useful in political research and applies these methods, with particular emphasis on the use of survey data. Using quantitative methods, employs statistical computing software (such as Stata, SPSS, and/or R) as a research tool, with a focus on effective presentation of data and results. The assignments include a mix of essay writing and problem sets. The course is designed for students with little or no experience in statistical inference.

GOV 3020. Money and Politics

Considers the historical and contemporary relationship between money and government. In what ways have moneyed interests always had distinctive influences on American politics? Does this threaten the vibrancy of our representative democracy? Are recent controversies over campaign finance reform and lobbying reform signs that American government is in trouble? Reading, writing, and discussion intensive, considers the large academic literature on this subject, as well as the reflections of journalists and political practitioners, with the overall goal of understanding the money/politics relationship in ways that facilitate the evaluation of American democracy.

I am a Professor of Government and Legal Studies at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.  My research interests include campaign finance, political advertising, and interest groups. I teach courses in campaigns, mass media, voting behavior, citizenship, and research methods.  I am also co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.  The predecessor of that project was the Wisconsin Advertising Project.

Check out "what's new" with my research and teaching.

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  • B.A., Fairfield University, 1999
  • M.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2000
  • Ph.D, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2005

Personal Website (www.mikemfranz.com)


Political Advertising in the United States. (with Travis Ridout and Erika Franklin Fowler) 2016. Westview Press.

Interest Groups in American Campaigns: The New Face of Electioneering 3rd edition, (with Mark Rozell and Clyde Wilcox). 2012. New York: Oxford University Press

The Persuasive Power of Campaign Advertising (with Travis Ridout). 2011. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press

Campaign Advertising and American Democracy (with Paul Freedman, Kenneth Goldstein, and Travis Ridout) (Temple University Press, 2007)

Choices and Changes: Interest Groups in the Electoral Process (Temple University Press, 2008).  Research for this book was based on my dissertation, which was awarded the American Political Science Association's E.E. Schattschneider Award for the best doctoral dissertation in the field of American government.

Recent Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Travis Ridout, Erika Franklin Fowler, Taewoo Kang, and Michael Franz.  2017.  “Issue Consistency?  Comparing Television Advertising, Tweets and Email in the 2014 Senate Campaigns,” Political CommunicationOnline First.

Travis Ridout, Erika Franklin Fowler, Michael Franz, and Ken Goldstein.  2017.  “The Long-Term and Geographically-Constrained Effects of Campaign Advertising on Political Polarization and Sorting,” American Politics Research.  Online First.

Michael Franz.  2017.  “Considering the Expanding Role of Interest Groups in American Presidential Elections.”  Interest Groups & Advocacy. 6(1): 112-120.

Erika Franklin Fowler, Travis Ridout, and Michael Franz. 2017. “Political Advertising in 2016: The Presidential Election as Outlier?” The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics. 14(4): 445-470.

Leticia Bode, David Lassen, Young Mie Kim, Dhavan Shah, Erika Franklin Fowler, Travis N. Ridout, and Michael Franz. 2016. “Campaign Broadcast and Social Messaging.” Online Information Review. 40(5): 580-594.

Michael Franz, Erika Fowler, and Travis Ridout. 2015. “Loose Cannons or Loyal Foot Soldiers? Toward a More Complex Theory of Interest Group Advertising Strategies,” American Journal of Political Science. [Winner, 2017 Jack L. Walker, Jr. Award for Outstanding Article, Section on Political Parties and Organizations, American Political Science Association]

Michael Franz.  2015.  “Interest Group Issue Appeals: Evidence of Issue Convergence in Senate and Presidential Elections, 2008-2014,” The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics. 12(4): 685–712

Travis Ridout, Michael Franz, and Erika Franklin Fowler.  2014.  “Sponsorship, Disclosure and Donors: Limiting the Impact of Outside Group Ads,” Political Research Quarterly.  68(1): 154-166

Travis Ridout, Michael Franz, and Erika Franklin Fowler.  2014.  “Advances in the Study of Political Advertising,” Journal of Political Marketing. 13(3): 1-20

Michael Franz.  2013.  “The Federal Election Commission as Regulator: The Changing Evaluations of Advisory Opinions,” University of California-Irvine Law Review.

Michael Franz.  2013. “Interest Groups in Electoral Politics: 2012 in Context,” The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics.  10(4): 62-79.

Michael Franz.  2013.  “Attack of the Super PACs? Interest Groups in the 2012 Elections,” Matt Grossman (ed.) New Directions in Interest Group Politics. New York: Routledge.

Travis Ridout, Michael Franz, Kenneth Goldstein, and Will Feltus.  2012.  “Microtargeting Through Political Advertising.” Political Communication.  29(1): 1-23.

Michael Franz.  2012.  “Targeting Campaign Messages: Good for Campaigns but Bad for America?,” Travis Ridout (ed.) New Directions in Media and Politics.  New York: Routledge.

Michael Franz.  2012.  “Campaign Finance Law: The Changing Role of Parties and Interest Groups,” Matthew Streb (ed.), Rethinking American Electoral Democracy, 2nd edition.  New York: Routledge.

Michael Franz.  2012.  “Past as Prologue: The Electoral Influence of Corporations,” in Paul Herrnson, Christopher Deering, and Clyde Wilcox (eds.), Interest Groups Unleashed, Washington, D.C: CQ Press.

Recent Media