Gabriel Lenz
Associate Professor
Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science
Institute for Government Studies
University of California, Berkeley
(510) 575-9971
glenz (at)

Google Scholar Page
Model Politics Blog Posts

Home        CV        Publications        Working papers        MTurk        Links


Gabriel Lenz studies democratic accountability. His research has been published in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, and Political Analysis, among other outlets, and he has received awards from the American Political Science Association and the Midwest Political Science Association.

He received his MA and PhD in political science from Princeton University. He received a BA in political science (Phi Beta Kappa) from Reed College. Prior to joining Berkeley, he served on the faculty of MIT.


Blog post on Pre-analysis Plans part of the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences

Article on understanding and curing myopic economic voting published in AJPS
Link to article
Press release
Coverage in Science
Berkeley blog post, Model Politics blog post

follow the leader cover artFollow the Leader
How Voters Respond to Politicians' Policies and Performance
University of Chicago Press Amazon
Press Release

Follow the Leader is certain to become an important book because of how clearly it illustrates and then addresses a fatal flaw in past research on voting behavior. Additionally, the book paves the way for future scholars seeking to investigate any one of the questions raised in the concluding chapter, such as why performance voting is more common than policy voting and the role of elite strategy in this regard. For all of these reasons, Lenz’s book represents a major advance in the study of voting behavior.
--- Book review in Public Opinion Quarterly by Jennifer Jerit (link)

The new scholarship that does most to undermine the importance of Nature and Origins is, ironically, Lenz's. In support of the RAS model, he provides what is perhaps the most ironclad evidence to date that presidents and presidential candidates can induce rank-and-file partisans to follow their lead on major issues. But he also finds that partisans give little weight to their leadership-induced opinions when it comes time to make political choices. They parrot the party line, but do not vote it. For Nature and Origins, which is all about shaped opinion, this finding raises big questions: Do the opinions shaped by elite leadership have political consequences? Or are they just lip service to party norms?
--- “What the Nature and Origin Leaves Out” by John Zaller (link)

From the cover:

Donald P. Green, Columbia University
Lucid and engaging, Follow the Leader? revisits the longstanding debate about whether the electorate chooses candidates based on their policy stances. Adducing evidence from a broad array of countries, eras, and issue domains, Gabriel S. Lenz offers a smart and nuanced critique of the ‘issue voting’ literature, arguing that voters often evaluate candidates based on performance but rarely do so based on policy positions. A must-read for anyone interested in public opinion and democratic accountability.

Richard Johnston, University of British Columbia
In studying the movement in opinion and behavior, Gabriel S. Lenz brings both good and bad news. The good news is that politicians’ attempts to control the issue agenda in campaigns are not as successful as some of us feared. The bad news is that, instead, citizens mainly—and rather blindly—follow cues from politicians they already prefer. Exploiting existing and underused panel data, Lenz burns through observational equivalence, providing a model not just of clear-eyed analysis but also of patient exposition.

Thomas M. Carsey, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“With Follow the Leader? Gabriel S. Lenz addresses the central question of how voters make use of the information around them to form evaluations of elected officials. Examining the impact of processes like priming and position changing, Lenz argues that there are also substantial effects working in the opposite direction—and that who voters support affects their views on the issues. There is much to ponder here for scholars interested in voter behavior and representation.”