Research & Publications

Replication files

Wood & Lewis, JPART 2017: data; code; codebook.

Other projects: I am happy to share all of the data and code that goes into my research and have done so for a few of these projects already - replicate away! I'll post more as I get time to make the code prettier. In the meantime, I'll send it to you if you email me (awood@law.usc.edu). Thanks.



Publications (see citations on my Google Scholar page)

Abby K. Wood. Forthcoming, 2021. “Learning from Campaign Finance Disclosures.” Emory Law Journal.

Abby K. Wood. Forthcoming, 2020. “Facilitating Accountability for Online Political Advertisements.” Ohio State Technology Law Journal.

Wood, Abby and Christian Grose. Forthcoming. Campaign Finance Transparency Affects Legislators' Election Outcomes and Behavior, American Journal of Political Science (Accepted 2020)

Grose, Christian and Abby Wood. 2019. "Randomized experiments by government institutions and American political development." Public Choice.

Stein, Robert, et al. 2019. "Waiting to Vote in the 2016 Presidential Election: Evidence from a Multi-jurisdiction Study.Political Research Quarterly.

Stein, Robert, et al. 2019. “Polling Place Quality and Access” in The Future of Election Administration (Kathleen Hale and Bridgett A. King, eds., Palgrave, 2019).

Abby K. Wood. 2018. “Campaign Finance Disclosure”. Annual Review of Law & Social Science 14(1): 11-27.

Abby K. Wood, Ann M. Ravel, Irina Dykhne. 2018. “Fool Me Once: Government Regulation of “Fake News” and other Online Political Advertising.” 91 Southern California Law Review 1223-1278.

Christopher S. Elmendorf & Abby K. Wood. 2018. "Elite Political Ignorance: Law, Data, and the Representation of (Mis)Perceived Electorates." 52 U.C. Davis Law Review 571-636 (lead article).

Mann, Christopher B., et al. 2018. "Pedagogical Value of Polling Place Observation By Students." PS: Political Science & Politics (Oct) 831-837.

Wood, Abby K. and David E. Lewis. 2017. “Agency Performance Challenges and Agency PoliticizationJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 27(4): 581–595. Supplemental appendix available here.

Michalski, Roger M. and Abby Wood. 2017. “Twombly and Iqbal at the State Level” (with Roger M. Michalski) Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 14(2): 424-469.

Wood, Abby K. and Douglas M. Spencer. 2016. “In The Shadows of Sunlight: An Empirical Study of Campaign Finance Transparency” Election Law Journal 15(4): 302-329.

Jensenius, Francesca and Abby Wood. 2016. “Caught in the Act but not Punished: Why the Rule of Law is Key to Effective DeterrencePenn State Journal of Law & International Affairs. 686(4).

Spencer, Douglas M. and Abby K. Wood. 2014. “Citizens United, States Divided: Evidence of Elasticity in Independent Expenditures” Indiana Law Journal 89(1):315-372.

"Charm and Punishment: How the Philippines' leading man became its most famous prisoner", in Prosecuting Heads of State (Ellen Lutz and Caitlin Reiger, eds., Cambridge University, 2009)


Works In Progress

Show Me the Money: "Dark Money" and the Informational Benefit of Campaign Finance Disclosure (under review)

While the Court continues to uphold mandatory campaign finance disclosure, it has also eviscerated much of the legal justification for it. Simultaneously, gaps in the legal framework mean that some campaign activity is subject only to voluntary disclosure – consider “dark money” groups and unregulated Internet campaign advertising. In upholding the parts of the campaign finance regime that mandate disclosure, the Court has assumed that disclosure provides valuable policy information to voters, but it has not considered non-policy information that voters learn about candidates from the choice to disclose more than is legally required. This article provides new survey and experimental evidence that voters value disclosure of campaign finance information and will reward voluntary disclosure while punishing candidates supported by dark money groups. Voluntary disclosure signals transparency and thus trustworthiness. The importance of the second kind of information has not been previously recognized and suggests a role for voluntary as well as mandatory disclosure.


Mind the (Participation) Gap: How Campaign Voucher Disclosure Affects Political Participation (with Christopher S. Elmendorf and Douglas M. Spencer) (under review)

This study uses Seattle’s new voucher-based system of campaign finance to shed light on the effect of disclosure on political participation. We measure a new concept, the “participation gap”, which is the difference between contributing (in Seattle, a public act) and one’s probability of voting (a private act). We hypothesize that the gap is larger for people who are political outliers among their neighbors, compared to people who are more ideologically typical among their neighbors. We use matching to test our hypothesis. So far, scholars have not been able to measure the deterrent effect of campaign finance disclosure. This research design provides our best chance to date.


Decentralized Legislative Oversight of Bureaucratic Policy Making (with Janna Rezaee and Sean Gailmard) (under review)

Congressional oversight is a potentially potent tool to affect policy making and implementation by executive agencies. However, oversight of any agency is dispersed among several committees across the House and Senate. How does this decentralization affect the strategic incentives for oversight by each committee? And how do the strate- gic incentives of oversight committees align with the collective interest of Congress as a whole? We develop a formal, spatial model of decentralized oversight to investigate these questions. The model shows that when committees have similar interests in af- fecting agency policy, committees attempt to free ride on each other and oversight levels are inefficiently low. But if committees have competing interests in affecting agency policy, they engage in “dueling oversight” with little overall effect, and oversight levels are inefficiently high. Overall, we contend that committee oversight incentives do not generally align with the collective interests of Congress, and the problem cannot be easily solved by structural changes within a single chamber.


To See or Not To See? Campaign Finance Disclosure and Voter Competence

The Supreme Court has shifted again, this time replacing a justice (Scalia) who embraced campaign finance disclosure with one (Gorsuch) who is skeptical of its benefits. The jurisprudence around campaign finance disclosure assumes that the disclosures help to inform voters about underlying policies being supported, but the area is under-studied and existing studies are problematic. One key way they are problematic is in seeking population effects, when a sizable minority of the population will not access any political information, including campaign finance information. Here, I present findings from a survey experiment that suggest that (1) campaign finance information will not be sought by those who are politically disengaged, politically ignorant, or ignorant of the specific policies at issue, and (2) controlling for those people improves our ability to detect an increase in voter competence from pushing campaign finance information to voters.