Co-Director of the Research Triangle SSN Regional Network; Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University
Expertise & Civic Involvements
Carnes’s research focuses on Congress, state and local legislatures, with a special focus on representation and political accountability, and the influence of legislators’ backgrounds on economic policy and inequalities of social class.
SSN Key Findings, November 2013
Co-Authored with David Broockman, SSN Basic Facts, August 2013
Co-Authored with Noam Lupu, SSN Key Findings, July 2013
Co-Authored with John Holbein, SSN Basic Facts, January 2013
"Does the Numerical Underrepresentation of the Working Class in Congress Matter?" Legislative Studies Quarterly 37, no. 1 (2012). Documents that members of Congress from different classes vote differently on economic issues in ways that mirror class-based differences in mass opinion. The shortage of lawmakers from the working class biases economic policy voting in Congress in favor of the interests of the upper class.
"By the Upper Class, for the Upper Class? Representational Inequality and Economic Policymaking in the United States," Ph.D. dissertation, Princeton University, September, 2011. Shows that the shortage of people from the working class in public office has serious consequences. Like ordinary Americans, legislators from different classes tend to think, vote, and advocate differently on economic issues. In the aggregate, tax policies are more regressive, business regulations are more lax, redistributive policies are less generous, and protections for workers are leaner than they would be if the working class held its fair share of political offices.
- Nicholas Carnes's research on whether a candidate's background influences policy positions (with Meredith Sadin) discussed in , "Why Joni Ernst Talked about Her Tough Upbringing," New York Times, January 20, 2015.
- Nicholas Carnes quoted on the wealth of elected officials in Toluse Olorunnipa, "Rich Guys Running for Office Struggle with Voters in Land of Frozen Wages" Bloomberg, November 3, 2014.
- "The Class War in American Politics is Over. The Rich Won.," Vox, September 3, 2014.
- "Of Course the U.S. is an 'Oligarchy' - We Keep Electing the Rich," Talking Points Memo, April 28, 2014.
- "Millionaries Run Our Government. Here's Why That Matters," The Monkey Cage, Washington Post, January 7, 2014.
- "Our White-Collar Rulers are Out of Touch with Most Americans," The Raleigh News & Observer, October 10, 2013.
- "How Poorer Politicians Can Shatter the Cash Ceiling," Bangor Daily News, October 1, 2013.
- Nicholas Carnes's research on income inequality between U.S. representatives and their constitutents discussed in , "‘If the Millionaires’ Party Ever Gets Its Act Together, Watch Out’," The Washington Post, May 6, 2013.
- "A Tax-Reform Plan that Rewards the Wealthy and Stalls the State," The Raleigh News & Observer, January 24, 2013.
- "Which Millionaire are You Voting For?," New York Times, October 13, 2012.
- Nicholas Carnes quoted , "The One Percenters in Congress" CNN Money, May 8, 2012.
- Nicholas Carnes's research on the effect of inequalities in the class composition of legislatures discussed in , "Growing Wealth Widens Distance between Lawmakers and Constituents," The Washington Post, December 26, 2011.
- Nicholas Carnes's research on class and politics discussed in , "What a Politician’s Former Job Can Tell You," The Washington Post, September 16, 2011.
- Nicholas Carnes's research on the effects of inequalities in the class composition of legislatures discussed in , "Social Status and How the Elected Vote," New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog, September 12, 2011.
- Nicholas Carnes's research on the increasing wealth of members of Congress discussed in , "Politically Unequal," News21, August 12, 2011.
Talks and Briefings
- "Why are There So Few Working Class People in Public Office?: Evidence from the 2012 National Candidate Survey," Marxist-Socialist Lecture Series, University of Maine; Sponsored by the Maine Scholars Strategy Network, Orono, ME, October 3, 2013.
- "Why Aren’t Politicians More Concerned about Income Inequality?," Duke Law Democrats, November 9, 2011.