Mathew D. McCubbins

Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of Political Science in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences

External Address: 
Duke Law School 210 Science Dr, Duke Box 90362, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Duke Law School, Duke Box 90362, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 613-7006
Political Economy

McCubbins is perhaps best known for the argument that legislative majorities, whether they be the dominant legislative party or a coalition parties governments (even supported minority coalitions) usurp the power resident in the legislature for their own purposes. Within busy legislatures, legislation is controlled as a consequence of a party or coalition of parties capturing control of key legislative assets, such as congressional committee in the US Congress, which because of the rules have blocking (or veto power) and thus serve as a gateway (or gate) to discussion of a bill by the full plenum. The legislative process is replete with gates that are both subtle and gross. All other powers to set the agenda arise as a consequence of creating and controlling the legislative process.


  • Ph.D., California Institute of Technology 1983

McCubbins, M. Legislative Leviathan: Party Government in the House. Cambridge University Press, 2007. (Monograph)

McCubbins, M, and Cox, G. Setting the Agenda: Responsible Party Government in the US House of Representatives. Cambridge University Press, 2005. (Monograph)

McCubbins, M, Gerber, E, Lupia, A, and Kiewiet, D. Stealing the Initiative: How State Government Responds to Direct Democracy. Prentice-Hall, 2001. (Monograph)

McCubbins, M, and Lupia, A. Elements of Reason: Cognition, Choice and the Bounds of Rationality. Cambridge University Press, 2000. (Edited Book)

McCubbins, M, and Haggard, S. Presidents, Parliaments, and Policy. Cambridge University Press, 2000. (Edited Book)

McCubbins, M, and Lupia, A. The Democratic Dilemma: Can Citizens Learn What They Need to Know?. Cambridge University Press, 1998. (Monograph)

McCubbins, M. The Origins of Liberty: Political and Economic Liberalism in the Modern World. Princeton University Press, 1998. (Edited Book)


McCubbins, M, Lucas, G, and Turner, M. "Against Game Theory." Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences: An Interdisciplinary, Searchable, and Linkable Resource. 2015. 1-16. (Chapter)

McCubbins, M. "Common Agency? Legislatures and Bureaucracies." Oxford Handbook of Legislative Studies. 2014. 567-587. (Chapter)

McCubbins, M, Turner, M, and Weller, N. "Testing the Foundations of Quantal Response Equilibrium." Social Computing, Behavioral-Cultural Modeling and Prediction. 2013. 144-153. (Chapter)

McCubbins, M. "The Mythology of Game Theory." Proceedings of the International Conference on Social Computing, Behavioral-Cultural Modeling & Prediction. Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science. 2012. (Chapter)

McCubbins, M, Turner, M, and Weller, N. "The Theory of Minds Within the Theory of Games." Proceedings of the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence. 2012. (Chapter)

McCubbins, M, and Weller, N. "Effects of Network Structure on Costly Coordination." Association for Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Fall Symposium on Social Networks and Social Contagion. 2012. (Chapter)

Turner, M. "Going Cognitive: Tools for Rebuilding the Social Sciences." Grounding Social Sciences in Cognitive Sciences. 2012. (Chapter)

McCubbins, M, Noll, R, and Weingast, B. "Administrative Procedures as Instruments of Political Control." Principles and Practice of American Politics: Classic and Contemporary Readings. 2012. 369-383. (Chapter)

Cox, GW, and McCubbins, MD. "Managing Plenary Time: The U.S. Congress in Comparative Context." The Oxford Handbook of the American Congress. May 2, 2011. Full Text

McCubbins, M, Enemark, D, Paturi, R, and Weller, N. "Does More Connectivity Help Groups to Solve Social Problems?." Proceedings of the ACM Conference of Electronic Commerce. 2011. (Chapter)


Enemark, D, Gibson, CC, McCubbins, MD, and Seim, B. "Effect of holding office on the behavior of politicians." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113.48 (November 29, 2016): 13690-13695. Full Text

McCubbins, M, Enemark, D, and Weller, N. "Knowledge and Networks: An Experimental Test of How Network Knowledge Affects Coordination." Social Networks 36 (2014): 122-133.

McCubbins, M, and Turner, M. "Are Individuals Fickle-Minded?." (2014): 237-252.

McCubbins, M, and Kiewiet, D. "State and Local Government Finance: The New Fiscal Ice Age." Annual Review of Political Science 17 (2014): 105-122.

McCubbins, M, Lucas, G, and Turner, M. "Can We Build Behavioral Game Theory? (In preparation)." (2013).


McCubbins, MD, Turner, M, and Weller, N. "The challenge of flexible intelligence for models of human behavior." August 17, 2012.