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Kirby Goidel

Faculty member Kirby Goidel
Areas of Speciality
  • Communication, Politics, and Policy
  • BLTN 205C
Professional Links
Personal Website


Kirby Goidel’s research is motivated by questions of democratic governance, including whether citizens are up to the task of democratic governance., the willingness (and ability) of elites to manipulate public opinion, and the institutional mechanisms which translate democratic inputs into policy.


Kirby Goidel is professor in the Department of Communication and the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University. Previously, he was the Scripps Howard Professor of Mass Communication in the Department of Political Science at Louisiana State University where he also served as director of the Public Policy Research Lab. Goidel is the author of Misreading the Bill of Rights: Top Ten Myths Concerning Your Rights & Liberties, America’s Failing Experiment: How We The People Have Become the Problem and edited and contributed to Political Polling in a Digital Age: The Challenge of Measuring and Understanding Public Opinion.

Courses Taught

  • COMM 610: Social Science Research Methods in Communication
  • COMM 440: Political Communication

Representative Publications


book: Misreading the Bill of RightsKirby Goidel, Craig Freeman, and Brian Smentkowski. 2015. Misreading the Bill of Rights: Top Ten Myths Concerning Your Rights and Liberties. Praeger Publishing.

The Bill of Rights—the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution—are widely misunderstood by many Americans. This book explores the widely held myths about the Bill of Rights, how these myths originated, why they have persisted, and the implications for contemporary politics and policy.


book: America's Failing ExperimentKirby Goidel. 2014. America’s Failing Experiment: How Too Much Democracy Undermines Our National Leaders. Rowman & Littlefield.

Written in a provocative, jargon-free style ideal for stimulating classroom discussion, America’s Failing Experiment directly challenges would-be reformers who believe the solution to our current political paralysis is more democracy. Kirby Goidel finds that the fault for our contemporary political dysfunction resides not with our elected officials but with our democratic citizenries. He argues that our elected officials are overly responsive to public opinion which is often poorly informed, incoherent, and uncertain. The result is a more polarized political system, rising inequality, and institutional gridlock. Though not new, these concerns take on deeper political significance in a digital age where information flows more quickly and opportunities for feedback are virtually unlimited. If the diagnosis is too much democracy, the counterintuitive solution runs against our cultural norms—less citizen involvement, greater discretion for political elites, and greater collective responsibility.

book: Political Polling in the Digital AgeKirby Goidel. 2011. Political Polling in the Digital Age: The Challenge of Measuring and Understanding Public Opinion. Louisiana State University Press.

The 2008 presidential election provided a “perfect storm” for pollsters. A significant portion of the population had exchanged their landlines for cellphones, which made them harder to survey. Additionally, a potential Bradley effect–in which white voters misrepresent their intentions of voting for or against a black candidate–skewed predictions, and aggressive voter registration and mobilization campaigns by Barack Obama combined to challenge conventional understandings about how to measure and report public preferences. In the wake of these significant changes, Political Polling in the Digital Age, edited by Kirby Goidel, offers timely and insightful interpretations of the impact these trends will have on polling.

book: The States of Campaign Finance ReformDonald K. Gross and Robert K. Goidel. 2003. The States of Campaign Finance Reform, Ohio State University Press.

Since 1974, the vast majority of the research on campaign finance has focused on U.S. national elections. As a result, our understanding of the electoral consequences of campaign finance laws has been largely (though not entirely) limited to a single regulatory regime—the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 and its subsequent amendments. This book bridges these gaps by focusing on the impact of state campaign finance laws on candidate spending, voter turnout, and electoral competition in gubernatorial elections.

book: Money MattersRobert K. Goidel, Donald K. Gross, and Todd G. Sheilds. 1999. Money Matters: Consequences of Campaign Finance Reform in United States House Elections. Rowman & Littlefield.

Methods of campaign financing have been controversial since George Washington first ran for office, and debates over campaign finance reform have raged just as long. Contemporary critics of reform often contend that it would decrease electoral competition, voter turnout, and the amount of information voters receive about candidates. Money Matters subjects these criticisms to careful, systemic analysis_using simulations, aggregate vote analyses, and individual-level data analyses based on House elections_and concludes that reform, with modest public subsidies and spending limits, would enhance rather than diminish the U.S. system of democratic governance. This timely book helps bridge the gap between quantitative academic research and applied progressive reform efforts. It will be of interest to scholars and students of political parties, the legislative process, campaigns and elections, political institutions, public policy, and political behavior and methodology.