Photo I am an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy and Politics at West Virginia University.

My research focuses on the causes and consequences of political and economic inequality in the American context. In trying to better understand the relationship between inequality and politics my work covers several areas of study, including public policy, political participation, public opinion, representation, state and local politics, and political methodology.

Book Cover In my book coauthored with Chris Witko, The New Economic Populism: How States Respond to Economic Inequality (Amazon), we argue that the U.S. government's failure to address rising income inequality should not be very surprising since federal inaction in the face of emerging economic problems is the norm in American history. The states led the fight against new economic problems during the Progressive Era and Great Depression, and it is likely that we will once again have to rely on the states to address today's massive gap between the rich and the poor. We show that the public is cognizant of rising inequality and that this growing awareness is associated with more egalitarian political and policy changes. In contrast to the prevailing pessimism regarding income inequality, we suggest that if history is a guide these incipient state actions to reduce inequality are likely to spread to other states and even the federal government in the coming decades.

I received my Ph.D. in political science from the University of Iowa in 2012.

mail: Department of Political Science
West Virginia University
316 Woodburn Hall
Morgantown, WV 26506
phone: (216) 505-0015
email: william.franko@mail.wvu.edu