Lawrence R. Jacobs

Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair of Political Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at Hubert Humphrey School, University of Minnesota

About Lawrence

Jacobs’s research focuses on presidential and legislative politics; elections and voting behavior; public opinion and polling; Social Security and health care policy; political dynamics in midwestern swing states; and American political history. His center is one of the leading university-based bodies on politics and public policy in Minnesota and the upper Midwest. It regularly hosts high-profile public forums with senior government officials and experts, serves as a go-to resource for journalists, and brings together community and public officials to address pressing real-world problems.


A Field Guide to the Politics of ObamaCare Implementation

  • Theda Skocpol

What Does Health Reform Do for Americans?

  • Theda Skocpol

What Americans Really Think about Health Reform

  • Theda Skocpol

Community Clinics - The Hidden Health Revolution

In the News

Opinion: "Keep It Simple, Democrats. Job One Is Making Sure Americans Can Cast Votes This Fall," Lawrence R. Jacobs (with Theda Skocpol), USA Today, July 13, 2020.
Research discussed by Ayesha Rascoe, in "A Year After Charlottesville, Not Much Has Changed For Trump," NPR Weekend Edition, August 11, 2018.
Quoted by Tyrone Richardson in "Labor, Gender Issues Shaping Key Minnesota Rematch," Bloomberg, July 27, 2018.
Quoted by Alan Greenblatt in "The Litmus Test for (Most) Republicans Running for Governor: Trump," Governing, April 12, 2018.
Quoted by Juan Zamorano and Stephen Braun in "Trump’s Company Asked Panama President to Help in Hotel Spat," The Denver Post, April 9, 2018.
Opinion: "Thinking of Walter Mondale Near His 90th Birthday: A Great Leader. A Great Teacher.," Lawrence R. Jacobs, Star Tribune, January 15, 2018.
Quoted by Harris Meyer in "Senate Republicans Likely to Repeal ACA Mandate as Part of Tax Bill," Modern Healthcare, November 15, 2017.
Opinion: "Outside of Washington, There is a New Vital Center in Health Care Reform," Lawrence R. Jacobs (with Suzanne Mettler), Health Affairs Blog, July 31, 2017.
Quoted by Harris Meyer in "Foes of GOP Repeal Bill Fear Having Public Opinion on Their Side May Not be Enough," Modern Healthcare, July 6, 2017.
Opinion: "Under Trump, Obamacare’s Medicaid Enrollments May Actually Go Up," Lawrence R. Jacobs (with Timothy Callaghan), The Washington Post, February 22, 2017.
Opinion: "A Realist's Guide to Trump's First 100 Days," Lawrence R. Jacobs, Minneapolis Star Tribune, January 6, 2017.
Opinion: "Gary Johnson, Queen Maker," Lawrence R. Jacobs (with Jonathan Spiegler), New York Times, November 4, 2016.
Opinion: "Why Public Opinion on ObamaCare Should Worry Us All," Lawrence R. Jacobs (with Suzanne Mettler), The Hill, June 21, 2016.
Research discussed by Philip Augar, in "Lenders at the Last," Financial Times, June 15, 2016.
Opinion: "Why the Fed Still Needs Fixing," Lawrence R. Jacobs (with Desmond King), The Hill, May 19, 2016.
Interviewed in "How the Fed Ignored the Constitution and Played Favorites during Crisis," Market Watch, April 26, 2016.
Opinion: "Legal Hurdles to the Affordable Care Act," Lawrence R. Jacobs (with Theda Skocpol), Oxford University Press Blog, January 17, 2016.
Opinion: "Yes, He Did: Why Obama is the Most Consequential Second-Term President since FDR," Lawrence R. Jacobs, Huffington Post, January 11, 2016.
Interviewed in "New Research Shows Just How Much Presidents Try to Manipulate Public Opinion," The Washington Post, August 9, 2015.
Opinion: "A Turning Point for Health Care — and Its G.O.P. Opponents," Lawrence R. Jacobs (with Theda Skocpol), New York Times, June 25, 2015.
Research discussed by Brendan James, in "Yep, American Presidents are Guided by Wealthy Elites," Talking Points Memo, June 2, 2015.
Research discussed by Patrick J. Egan, in "Why the GOP Loses if the ObamaCare Lawsuit Wins," The Washington Post, June 1, 2015.
Opinion: "ObamaCare's Remarkable Progress," Lawrence R. Jacobs (with Theda Skocpol), The Hill, April 2, 2015.
Quoted by Nancy LeTourneau in "The Scott Walker Antidote: Minnesota," Washington Monthly, February 28, 2015.
Quoted by Charles Gaba in "The Latest on the King Thing," ACASignups.net, January 27, 2015.
Quoted by David Blatt in "For ACA, Bumpy Road, Not a Dead End," Journal Record, November 19, 2014.
Quoted by Kate Carlton Greer and Brian Hardzinski in "Insure Oklahoma a Model, More People Accepting ObamaCare," KGOU National Public Radio, November 17, 2014.
Opinion: "The Democrats Must Stand Up for Health Care Reform," Lawrence R. Jacobs, New York Times, November 9, 2014.
Opinion: "The Unfortunate Turn against Performance Politics in U.S. Elections," Lawrence R. Jacobs (with Theda Skocpol), The Hill, September 5, 2014.
Opinion: "Where Pragmatism about Health Reform Lives," Lawrence R. Jacobs (with Theda Skocpol), The Hill, July 8, 2014.
Quoted by in "Glitches in State Exchanges Give GOP a Cudgel," New York Times, February 1, 2014.
Quoted by in "Twinned Cities Now Following Different Paths," New York Times, January 12, 2014.
Opinion: "Right vs. Left in the Midwest," Lawrence R. Jacobs, New York Times, November 23, 2013.
Opinion: "What Does Health Reform Do for Americans?," Lawrence R. Jacobs (with Theda Skocpol), OUPblog, September 23, 2013.
Opinion: "Minnesota Tax Reform: A Three-Act Play," Lawrence R. Jacobs, Star Tribune, March 2, 2013.
Guest on MPR News, December 3, 2012.
Research discussed by Monica Davey, in "One-Party Control Opens States to Partisan Rush," New York Times, November 22, 2012.
Research discussed by Stephanie Armour, in "Students against Lunch Calorie Caps Mobilize Republicans," The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 21, 2012.
Research discussed by Steven Hill, in "Pre-Debate Analysis: The Mad Science of U.S. Presidential Campaigns," In These Times, October 3, 2012.
Opinion: "Getting Past Healthcare's Individual Mandate," Lawrence R. Jacobs (with Theda Skocpol), Los Angeles Times, June 20, 2012.
Quoted by in "In Fight Over Obama Health Law, a Front in Minnesota," New York Times, April 30, 2012.
Opinion: "Health Reform - Genie is Out of the Bottle," Lawrence R. Jacobs, The Hill's Congress Blog, April 24, 2012.
Opinion: "The GOP and Health Care Reform," Lawrence R. Jacobs, Star Tribune, November 12, 2011.
Opinion: "What Do They Do Now?," Lawrence R. Jacobs, Star Tribune, November 7, 2010.
Opinion: "Can Republicans Rescind Obamacare?," Lawrence R. Jacobs (with Theda Skocpol), Los Angeles Times, October 31, 2010.
Opinion: "Expect a Year of Debate," Lawrence R. Jacobs, Minnesota Medicine, October 6, 2009.
Opinion: "Whatever Happened to Starting Small?," Lawrence R. Jacobs, Star Tribune, March 16, 2008.


"Fed Power: How Finance Wins" (with Desmond King) (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Examines the Federal Reserve as a potent political institution that systematically provides concealed advantages to a privileged few.

"Who Governs? Presidents, Public Opinion, and Manipulation" (with James N. Druckman) (University of Chicago Press, 2015).

Combines existing research with novel data from U.S. presidential archives to show that presidents make policy by largely ignoring the views of most citizens in favor of affluent and well-connected political insiders. Argues that presidents treat the public as pliable, priming it to focus on personality traits and often ignoring it on policies that fail to become salient.

"Reaching for a New Deal: Ambitious Governance, Economic Meltdown, and Polarized Politics in Obama’s First Two Years" (with Theda Skocpol) (Russell Sage Foundation, 2011).
Analyzes the policy successes and failures of the early Obama presidency – and explains why, despite many reform accomplishments, Obama and the Democrats have faced uphill political battles, right-wing obstruction, and popular disillusionment.
"Health Care Reform and American Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know " (with Theda Skocpol) (Oxford University Press, 2010).
In a readable narrative, explains how health reform legislation finally passed in 2010, and assesses the equality-enhancing aspects of the Affordable Care Act. Looks ahead to what will unfold as the legislation is implemented nationally and in the states amidst partisan divisions and interest group maneuvers.
"Trusting What You Know: Information, Knowledge, and Confidence in Social Security" (with Fay Lomax Cook and Dukhong Kim). Journal of Politics 72, no. 2 (2010): 1-16.
Shows how Social Security's personal statement increases knowledge and confidence in the program.
"Class War? What Americans Really Think about Economic Inequality" (with Benjamin Page) (University of Chicago Press, 2009).
Political debates often pivot on whether government is portrayed in the abstract, which triggers conservative reactions among majorities (including many Democrats), or in terms of specific programs and needs, which activates pragmatic liberalism (including among many Republicans).
"The Private Abuse of the Public Interest" (with Lawrence Brown) (University of Chicago Press, 2008).
Conservative efforts to expand markets and shrink government often have the paradoxical effect of expanding government’s reach by creating problems that force legislators to enact new rules and regulations. A comprehensive history of American economic and social welfare policy reveals that properly functioning markets require government to initiate, sustain, and repair them over time.