David M. Primo

Ani and Mark Gabrellian Professor

Professor of Political Science and Business Administration

Associate Dept. Chair and Director of Graduate Studies, Dept. of Political Science

University of Rochester

Harkness Hall 318 (Dept. of Political Science)

Rochester, NY 14627-0146




Vita (updated September 2023)



New: Sept. 2023 Congressional Testimony

Hearing: Examining Proposed Constitutional Amendments

September 19, 2023

US House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government

Written Testimony

Hearing Website

Hearing Webcast


Latest Book


Campaign Finance and American Democracy
What the Public Really Thinks and Why It Matters

with Jeff Milyo, 2020, University of Chicago Press


Read the Roll Call op-ed based on the book




Congressional Testimony

Hearing: The Need for the Balanced Budget Amendment

July 27, 2017

US House Judiciary Committee

Written Testimony

Hearing Webcast


Hearing: First Principles of Congressional Budgeting

July 28, 2015

US House Budget Committee

Written Testimony

Hearing Webcast


Hearing: Constitutional Solutions to Our Escalating National Debt:  Examining Balanced Budget Amendments

US House Judiciary Committee

July 24, 2014

Written Testimony

Written Testimony with Appendices
Hearing Webcast

Hearing: Whether the Constitution Should Be Amended to Address the Federal Deficit

May 13, 2011

US House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution
Written Testimony


Selected Op-eds

Personal Data About Small-Donor Democrats Is All Over the Internet, a New York Times op-ed about campaign finance disclosure

Markets Weren’t Spooked by a President Trump, a Wall Street Journal op-ed on the 2016 election
Wobbly Policies Make for a Shaky Economy, a Wall Street Journal op-ed on political uncertainty

The Stock Market Doesn’t Care About Elections, a New York Times op-ed on elections and markets

A Political Attack on Shareholder Value, a Wall Street Journal op-ed on corporate disclosure

Against Disclosure, a New York Times op-ed on corporate disclosure   
Public Financing No Cure-all, an Albany Times-Union op-ed reacting to the Moreland Commission Report

Campaign Finance Disclosure Has Costs, a Roll Call op-ed on campaign finance disclosure and congress

New Jersey Least Corrupt? Ha, Ha, a Wall Street Journal op-ed on measuring corruption

Overcoming ‘Physics Envy,’ a New York Times op-ed based on my book A Model Discipline

Obama’s Budget Blind Spot, a Los Angeles Times op-ed on the federal budget




A Model Discipline

Political Science and the Logic of Representations

Co-authored with Kevin A. Clarke

2012, Oxford University Press


Read the New York Times op-ed based on the book




Primo_cover_revisedRules and Restraint

Government Spending and the Design of Institutions

2007, University of Chicago Press

Winner, 2008 Alan Rosenthal Prize, APSA Legislative Studies Section










https://bookstore.brookings.edu/covers/theplanetruth.gifThe Plane Truth

Airline Crashes, the Media, and Transportation Policy

Co-authored with Roger W. Cobb

2003, Brookings Institution Press

Featured on NBC’s Today Show, December 22, 2005











Published Articles

Risky Business:  Do Disclosure and Shareholder Approval of Corporate Political Contributions Affect Firm Performance?

Business and Politics, 2019, with Saumya Prabhat

Related NYT Op-ed (Nov. 2013):   Against Disclosure

Related WSJ Op-ed (Sept. 2014):  A Political Attack on Shareholder Value


Policy Dynamics and Electoral Uncertainty in the Appointments Process

Journal of Theoretical Politics, 2017, with Jinhee Jo and Yoji Sekiya
(e-mail me for pdf of published article)


Using Item Response Theory to Improve Measurement in Strategic Management Research: An Application to Corporate Social Responsibility

Strategic Management Journal, 2016, with Rob Carroll and Brian Richter 

Data: www.socialscores.org


Disclosing Disclosure:  Lessons from a “Failed” Field Experiment (e-mail me for the full paper)

The Forum:  A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics, 2014, with Dick M. Carpenter II, Pavel Tendetnik, and Sandy Ho


Information at the Margin:  Campaign Finance Disclosure Laws, Ballot Issues, and Voter Knowledge

Election Law Journal, 2013

Related Policy Report:  Full Disclosure:  How Campaign Disclosure Laws Fail to Inform Voters and Stifle Public Debate

Related NYT Op-ed:       Against Disclosure

Related Forbes Op-ed:  It’s Time to Bring Some Sanity to Campaign Finance Laws


Bankruptcy Law, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Performance

            Entrepreneurship Research Journal, 2011, with Bill Green


Party Strength, the Personal Vote, and Government Spending

            American Journal of Political Science, April 2010, with Jim Snyder


The Effect of Initiatives on Local Government Spending

            Journal of Theoretical Politics, January 2010 (e-mail me for pdf of published article)


Who Consents?  Competing Pivots in Federal Judicial Selection

            American Journal of Political Science, July 2008,

            with Sarah Binder and Forrest Maltzman


Distributive Politics and the Law of 1/n

Journal of Politics, April 2008, with Jim Snyder


Modernizing Political Science:  A Model-Based Approach

Perspectives on Politics, December 2007, with Kevin Clarke


Estimating the Impact of State Policies and Institutions with Mixed-Level Data

            State Politics & Policy Quarterly, Winter 2007,

with Matt Jacobsmeier and Jeff Milyo


A Comment on Baron and Ferejohn (1989): The Open Rule Equilibrium and Coalition Formation 

Public Choice, January 2007


Stop Us Before We Spend Again:  Institutional Constraints on Government Spending

Economics & Politics, November 2006


Campaign Finance Laws and Political Efficacy:  Evidence From the States

Election Law Journal, March 2006, with Jeff Milyo


Rethinking Political Bargaining:  Policymaking With a Single Proposer

            Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization, October 2002


Budgetary Reform and Formal Modeling:  A Comment on Gabel and Hager

            Public Choice, October 2002


Public Opinion and Campaign Finance:  Reformers Versus Reality

            Independent Review, Fall 2002


Corporate PAC Campaign Contributions in Perspective

            Business and Politics, 2000, with Jeff Milyo and Tim Groseclose