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Ray La Raja

Professor of Political Science / Associate Director of UMass Poll | Political Science

Amherst, MA, UNITED STATES, Thompson , 634

545-6182 laraja@polsci.umass.edu

Ray La Raja's research interests include political parties, interest groups, elections, campaign finance and political participation.


Public Policy and OrganizationsElections and PollingPolitical ScienceCampaign FinanceAmerican Politics


Ray La Raja's areas of expertise include political parties, interest groups, campaign finance, elections, political participation, American state and local politics, public policy and political reform.

He is associate director of the UMass Poll, which conducts public opinion research in Massachusetts and the United States to inform policymaking.

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University of California, Berkeley

Ph.D., Political Science

Harvard University

Master in Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government

Harvard University

A.B., History and Literature

Media Coverage

Trump committee raised millions to fight election fraud before Jan. 6. Here's how that money was spent.

USA Today  online


Raymond La Raja is quoted in a news article examining the expenditures on which former President Donald Trump and his allies spent a quarter of a billion dollars in donations received based on their claims of fighting “widespread election fraud.”

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With Baker and Polito out, what happens to the campaign cash they raised?

WBUR radio  radio


Ray La Raja says the Baker-Polito campaign has few options about what to do with the $3 million in donations it has amassed, now that they’ve announced they are not running for reelection.

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One place Trump gained in Mass.: heavily Latino cities

CommonWealth magazine  print


UMass Amherst Professor Ray La Raja says Latinos often bring a perspective that can’t be pigeonholed into a clear ideological camp. “Latinos still support the Democratic ticket,” he said. But he said that doesn’t translate to uniform support for every position being advanced in the party. “When you have elements of the Democratic Party calling for defunding the police, that is the last thing people in some of these communities want to hear,” said La Raja.

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What if Beating Trump Is the Easy Part?

The New Yotk Times  print


"Ray La Raja, a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, voiced the consensus view of the strategists and scholars I contacted: 'A Senate win is critical. Otherwise, we are back to a standoff between a Democratic President and Mitch McConnell'."

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The Changing Shape of the Parties Is Changing Where They Get Their Money

The New York Times  print


A column about the changing ways that political parties raise money, quotes Ray J. La Raja who says it’s not too surprising that President Donald Trump has raised more money from small donors because Trump ignites the passions in individual donors.

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MAGA was the real winner of the Ohio Republican primary

The Washington Post

Mia Costa, Zachary Albert and Raymond J. La Raja


Raymond La Raja is co-author of an article analyzing last week’s Republican primary for an open U.S. Senate seat in Ohio, which was won by Trump-endorsed candidate J.D. Vance who earned less than a third of the votes in a crowded field.

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How ranked-choice voting saved the Virginia GOP from itself

The Washington Post

Raymond J. La Raja and Alexander Theodoridis


Raymond La Raja and colleague Alex Theodoridis write that the implementation of ranked-choice voting by delegates to the Virginia Republican Party statewide delegation reduced the chances that a Trumpist candidate would run away with the party’s nomination for governor.

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Too Much Democracy Is Bad for Democracy

The Atlantic

Jonathan Rauch and Ray La Raja


The major American parties have ceded unprecedented power to primary voters. It’s a radical experiment—and it’s failing.

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Democratic Party’s pluralism is both a strength and weakness


Raymond J. La Raja


"Democrats never agree on anything, that’s why they’re Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they’d be Republicans.” Much has changed since humorist Will Rogers said that in the 1930s, but he got it mostly right.

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Detecting and Understanding Donor Strategies in Midterm Elections

Political Research Quarterly

Jesse H. Rhodes, Brian F. Schaffner, Raymond J. La Raja


What explains how political donors decide where to give? Existing research indicates that people donate money to express support for a preferred political “team” and enjoy the emotional benefits of participating in politics. While this explains why people donate, it does little to help understand the different strategies that donors may pursue.

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Re-engineering politicians: How activist groups choose our candidates—long before we vote


Jonathan Rauch and Raymond J. La Raja


Political analysts sometimes refer to the process by which candidacies emerge and test their viability as the "invisible primary": activities like candidate recruitment, training, networking, grassroots cultivation, and more.

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