Mathew D. McCubbins

Mathew D. McCubbins

Ruth F. DeVarney Distinguished 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

Cox, G. W., and M. D. McCubbins. Legislative leviathan: Party government in the house, second edition. 2007, pp. 1–309. Scopus, doi:10.1017/CBO9780511810060. Full Text

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

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

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

McCubbins, M., and S. Haggard. Presidents, Parliaments, and Policy. Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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


McCubbins, M., and M. Turner. “Collective Action in the Wild.” The Extended Theory of Cognitive Creativity, Springer, 2019.

McCubbins, M., et al. “Against Game Theory.” Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences: An Interdisciplinary, Searchable, and Linkable Resource, 2015, pp. 1–16.

McCubbins, M. “Common Agency? Legislatures and Bureaucracies.” Oxford Handbook of Legislative Studies, 2014, pp. 567–87.

McCubbins, M., et al. “Testing the Foundations of Quantal Response Equilibrium.” Social Computing, Behavioral-Cultural Modeling and Prediction, 2013, pp. 144–53.

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.

McCubbins, M., et al. “The Theory of Minds Within the Theory of Games.” Proceedings of the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 2012.

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

Turner, M. “Going Cognitive: Tools for Rebuilding the Social Sciences.” Grounding Social Sciences in Cognitive Sciences, 2012.

McCubbins, M., et al. “Administrative Procedures as Instruments of Political Control.” Principles and Practice of American Politics: Classic and Contemporary Readings, 2012, pp. 369–83.

Cox, G. W., and M. D. McCubbins. “Managing Plenary Time: The U.S. Congress in Comparative Context.” The Oxford Handbook of the American Congress, 2011. Scopus, doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199559947.003.0020. Full Text


McCubbins, M., and J. Katz. “Constitutions of Exception: The Constitutional Foundations of the Interruption of Executive and Legislative Function.” Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, vol. 174, no. 1, 2018, pp. 77–98.

McCubbins, M., and E. Seljan. “Fiscal Secession: An Analysis of Special Assessment Financing in California.” Urban Affairs Review, 2018.

McCubbins, M., and E. Seljan. “Fiscal Secession: An Analysis of Special Assessment Financing in California.” Urban Affairs Review, 2018, pp. 1–33.

Burnett, C. M., and M. D. McCubbins. “Is political knowledge unique?.” Political Science Research and Methods, Jan. 2018. Scopus, doi:10.1017/psrm.2018.43. Full Text

McCubbins, M., and S. Greene. The Collateral Consequences of Criminal Charges. 2018.

McCubbins, M., et al. “Effect of Holding Office on the Behavior of Politicians.” Pnas, vol. 113, no. 48, 2016, pp. 13690–95.

McCubbins, M., et al. “Knowledge and Networks: An Experimental Test of How Network Knowledge Affects Coordination.” Social Networks, vol. 36, 2014, pp. 122–33.


Lupia, A., and M. D. McCubbins. “Democracy's Continuing Dilemma: How to Build Credibility in Chaotic Times.” Ps  Political Science and Politics, vol. 52, no. 4, 2019, pp. 654–58. Scopus, doi:10.1017/S1049096519000970. Full Text

McCubbins, M. D., et al. “The challenge of flexible intelligence for models of human behavior.” Aaai Spring Symposium  Technical Report, vol. SS-12-03, 2012, pp. 54–60.