Skip to main content
×
×
Home

The Koch Network and Republican Party Extremism

  • Theda Skocpol and Alexander Hertel-Fernandez
Abstract

Presidential election years attract attention to the rhetoric, personalities, and agendas of contending White House aspirants, but these headlines do not reflect the ongoing political shifts that will confront whoever moves into the White House in 2017. Earthquakes and erosions have remade the U.S. political terrain, reconfiguring the ground on which politicians and social groups must maneuver, and it is important to make sure that narrow and short-term analyses do not blind us to this shifting terrain. We draw from research on changes since 2000 in the organizational universes surrounding the Republican and Democratic parties to highlight a major emergent force in U.S. politics: the recently expanded “Koch network” that coordinates big money funders, idea producers, issue advocates, and innovative constituency-building efforts in an ongoing effort to pull the Republican Party and agendas of U.S. politics sharply to the right. We review the major components and evolution of the Koch network and explore how it has reshaped American politics and policy agendas, focusing especially on implications for right-tilted partisan polarization and rising economic inequality.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Allen, Mike and Vandehei, Jim. 2013. “The Koch Brothers’ Secret Bank.” Politico, September 11.
Allen, Mike and Vogel, Kenneth P.. 2014. “Inside the Koch Data Mine.” Politico, December 8.
Americans for Prosperity. 2013. “Americans for Prosperity 2012 Annual Report.” Arlington, VA: Americans for Prosperity.
Americans for Prosperity. 2015. “Partner Prospectus.” Arlington, VA: Americans for Prosperity.
Bai, Matt. 2003. “Fight Club.” New York Times Magazine, August 10.
Barker, Kim and Meyer, Theodoric. 2014. “Who Controls the Kochs’ Political Network? ASMI, SLAH, and TOHE.” ProPublica, March 17. Available at https://www.propublica.org/article/who-controls-koch-political-network-asmi-slah-tohe.
Bartels, Larry. 2008. Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Bautista-Chavez, Angie and Meyer, Sarah. 2015. “The Libre Initiative—An Innovative Conservative Effort to Recruit Latio Support.” Cambridge, MA: Scholars Strategy Network.
Berry, Jeffrey M. and Sobieraj, Sarah. 2014. The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion, Media and the New Incivility. New York: Oxford University Press.
Bonica, Adam and Rosenthal, Howard. 2015. “The Wealth Elasticity of Political Contributions by the Forbes 400.” Unpublished working paper. Available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2668780.
Bump, Philip. 2014. “Americans for Prosperity May Be America’s Third-Biggest Political Party.” Washington Post, June 19.
Burghart, Devin. 2015. “Americans for Prosperity Abandons Oregon.” Irehr.org, May 20.
Burman, Len. 2016. “The GOP Proposed Tax Cuts Would be Unprecedented.” Tax Policy Center: Washington, DC.
Calmes, Jackie. 2015. “‘They Don’t Give A Damn About Governing’: Conservative Media’s Influence on the Republican Party.” Cambridge, MA: Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard University.
Fang, Lee. 2013. The Machine: A Field Guide to the Resurgent Right. New York: New Press.
Fish, Sandra. 2014. “Americans for Prosperity Colorado: Koch Brothers’ Advocacy Gets Local in Colorado.” Al-Jazeera America, August 12.
Geman, Ben. 2012. “House GOP Leaders Pledge to Oppose Climate Change ‘Tax.’” The Hill, November 15.
Gilens, Martin. 2012. Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Gilens, Martin and Page, Benjamin I.. 2014. “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens.” Perspectives on Politics 12(3): 564–81.
Gold, Matea. 2014a. “Koch-backed Political Network, Built to Shield Donors, raised $400 Million in 2012 Elections.” Washington Post, January 5.
Gold, Matea. 2014b. “The Players in the Koch-Backed $400 Million Political Donor Network.” Washington Post, January 5.
Gold, Matea and Hamburger, Tom. 2015. “Inside the big GOP fight over the influential Export-Import Bank.” Washington Post, March 27.
Greenhouse, Steven. 2016. “Can Labor Still Turn Out the Vote?” New York Times, March 4.
Hacker, Jacob S. and Pierson, Paul. 2006. Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Hacker, Jacob S. and Pierson, Paul. 2010. Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer—and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Hacker, Jacob S. and Pierson, Paul. 2014. “After the “Master Theory”: Downs, Schattschneider, and the Rebirth of Policy-Focused Analysis.” Perspectives on Politics 12(3): 643–62.
Hacker, Jacob S. and Pierson, Paul. 2016. American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Hersh, Eitan D. 2015. Hacking the Electorate. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hertel-Fernandez, Alexander. 2015. “New Conservative Strategies to Weaken America’s Public Sector Unions.” Cambridge, MA: Scholars Strategy Network Basic Facts.
Hertel-Fernandez, Alexander. 2016. “How Employers Recruit Their Workers into Politics—And Why Political Scientists Should Care.” Perspectives on Politics 14(2): 410–21.
Hertel-Fernandez, Alexander and Skocpol, Theda. 2016a. “How the Right Trounced Liberals in the States.” Democracy: A Journal of Ideas Winter (39). Available at http://democracyjournal.org/magazine/39/how-the-right-trounced-liberals-in-the-states/
Hertel-Fernandez, Alexander and Skocpol, Theda. 2016b. “Billionaires Against Big Business.” Presented at the 2016 Meetings of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago IL.
Hertel-Fernandez, Alexander, Skocpol, Theda, and Lynch, Daniel. 2016. “Business Associations, Conservative Networks, and the Ongoing Republican War over Medicaid Expansion.” Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 41(2): 239–86.
Howe, Peter D., Mildenberger, Matto, Marlon, Jennifer R., and Leiserowitz, Anthony. 2015. “Geographic Variation in Opinions on Climate Change at State and Local Scales in the USA.” Nature Climate Change 5: 596603.
Israel, Josh. 2015. “The Restrictions Journalists Agreed to in Order To Attend the Koch Brothers’ Conference.” ThinkProgress, August 3.
Koch, Charles. 2010. “Understanding and Addressing Threats to American Free Enterprise and Prosperity.” Cover letter and enclosed program from Spring 2010 Seminar on held at St. Regis Resort. For background information, see Zernike, Kate. 2010. “Secretive Republican Donors Are Planning Ahead.” New York Times, October 19.
Kroll, Andy and Schulman, Daniel. 2014. “The Koch Brothers Left a Confidential Document at Their Donor Conference.” Mother Jones, February 5.
Leiserowitz, Anthony, Maibach, Edward, Roser-Renouf, Connie, Feinberg, Geoff, and Rosenthal, Seth. 2014. “Politics and Global Warming, Spring 2014.” New Haven, CT: Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.
Levinthal, Dave. 2015. “Koch Brothers Supersize Higher-Ed Spending.” Center for Public Integrity, December 15. Available at https://www.publicintegrity.org/2015/12/15/19007/koch-brothers-supersize-higher-ed-spending.
Maibach, Edward, Roser-Renouf, Connie, Vraga, Emily, Bloodhart, Brittany, Anderson, Ashley, Stenhouse, Neil, and Leiserowitz, Anthony. 2013. “A National Survey of Republicans and Republican-Leaning Independents on Energy and Climate Change.” George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication and Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.
Mann, Thomas E. and Ornstein, Norman J.. 2012. It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism New York: Basic Books.
Mayer, Jane. 2010. “Covert Operations: The Billionaire Brothers Who Are Waging a War against Obama.” New Yorker, August 30.
Mayer, Jane. 2013. “Koch Pledge Tied to Congressional Climate Inaction.” New Yorker, June 30.
Mayer, Jane. 2016. Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. New York: Doubleday Press.
Mishak, Michael J. and Elliott, Phillip. 2014. “Americans for Prosperity Builds Political Machine.” Associated Press, October 11.
Moore, Stephen. 2006. “‘Private Enterprise’: Weekend Interview with Charles Koch.” Wall Street Journal, May 6.
Mundy, Alicia. 2016. “The VA Isn’t Broken, Yet.” Washington Monthly, March/April/May.
New Hampshire Business Review. 2012. “Q & A with AFP-NH Director Corey Lewandowski.” New Hampshire Business Review, August 10.
Novak, Viveca. 2014. “GenOpp, Too: Another Group Almost Wholly Funded by Koch Network.” OpenSecrets Blog, May 13. Available at http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2014/05/genopp-too-another-group-almost-wholly-funded-by-koch-network/.
O’Brien, Matt. 2016. “Why the Republican Establishment Is Actually Winning.” Washington Post, March 10.
Overby, Peter. 2015. “Koch Political Network Expanding ‘Grass-Roots’ Organizing.” National Public Radio, October 14.
ProgressNow NM. 2014. “Koch Brothers to Shut Down NM Operations Ahead of 2014 Election.” Progressnownm.wordpress.com, January 13. Available at https://progressnownm.org/2014/01/12/pnnm-exclusive-koch-brothers-to-shut-down-nm-operations-ahead-of-2014-election/.
Public Opinion Strategies. 2015. “Republicans, Clean Energy, and Climate Change: Poll of 1200 Registered Voters Nationwide With An Ovesample to Reach 500 Republicans.” Available at https://clearpath.org/docs/clearpath_survey_report.pdf.
Roberts, David. 2015a. “The GOP Is the World’s Only Major Climate-Denialist Party. But Why?” Vox, December 2.
Roberts, David. 2015b. “Republican Climate Denial: It’s the Donors, Stupid.” Vox, December 16.
Rutenberg, Jim. 2014. “How Billionaire Oligarchs Are Becoming Their Own Political Parties.” New York Times Magazine, October 17.
Ryssdal, Kai. 2015. “Charles Koch: ‘I Don’t Like Politics’.” Marketplace, October 22.
Schlozman, Daniel. 2015. When Movements Anchor Parties. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Schouten, Fredreka. 2015. “Koch Group Flexes Conservative Muscle in State Fights.” USA Today, February 25.
Schulman, Daniel. 2014. Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty. New York: Hachette Book Group.
Sclar, Jason, Hertel-Fernandez, Alexander, Skocpol, Theda, and Williamson, Vanessa. “Donor Consortia on the Left and Right: Compariing the Membership, Activities, and Impact of the Democracy Alliance and the Koch Seminars.” Presented at the 2016 Meetings of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago IL.
Sher, Andy. 2015. “Americans for Prosperity Aims for Tennessee Influence.” Chattanooga Times Free Press, May 5.
Skocpol, Theda, Ganz, Marshall, and Munson, Ziad. 2000. “A Nation of Organizers: The Institutional Origins of Civic Voluntarism in the United States.” American Political Science Review 94(3): 527–46.
Skocpol, Theda and Hertel-Fernandez, Alexander. 2016. “The Koch Effect: The Impact of a Cadre-Led Network on American Politics.” Presented at the Annual Southwest Political Science Association Meetings, San Juan, Puerto Rico, January 8.
Skocpol, Theda and Williamson, Vanessa. 2012. The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism. New York: Oxford University Press.
Sonmez, Felicia. 2010. “Who Is ‘Americans for Prosperity’?” Washington Post: The Fix Blog, August 26. Available at http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/senate/who-is-americans-for-prosperit.html.
SourceWatch. 2015. “The Koch Network.” Madison, WI: Center for Media and Democracy.
Stan, Adele M. 2011. “How Workers Learned to Fear Unions in Wisconsin.” Investigative Fund, June 2.
Stein, Sam. “At Koch Retreat, Top GOP Senate Candidates Credited the Network for Their Rise.” Huffpost Politics, August 27. Available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/26/koch-brothers-ernst-cotton-gardner_n_5718773.html.
Vogel, David. 1989. Fluctuating Fortunes: The Political Power of Business in America. Washington: Beard Books.
Vogel, Kenneth P. 2014a. Big Money: 2.5 Billion Dollars, One Suspicious Vehicle, and a Pimp: On the Trail of the Ultra-Rich Hijacking American Politics. New York: Public Affairs.
Vogel, Kenneth P. 2014b. “Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity Plans $125 Million Spending Spree.” Politico, May 9.
Vogel, Kenneth P. 2015a. “How the Koch Network Rivals the GOP.” Politico, December 30.
Vogel, Kenneth P. 2015b. “How the Kochs Launched Joni Ernst.” Politico, November 12.
Walker, Alexis N. 2014. “Labor’s Enduring Divide: The Distinct Path of Public Sector Unions in the United States.” Studies in American Political Development 28(2): 175200.
Waterhouse, Benjamin C. 2013. Lobbying America: The Politics of Business from Nixon to NAFTA. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
West, Darrell M. 2014. Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust. Washington: Brookings Institution Press.
Windsor, Lauren. 2014. “Exclusive: Inside the Koch Brothers’ Secret Billionaire Summit.” The Nation, June 17.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Perspectives on Politics
  • ISSN: 1537-5927
  • EISSN: 1541-0986
  • URL: /core/journals/perspectives-on-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
WORD
Supplementary materials

Skocpol supplementary material
Appendix A-C

 Word (134 KB)
134 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed