William Franko

William Franko

Associate Professor
Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Political Science

West Virginia University


I am an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy and Politics at West Virginia University. I study political and economic inequality and class politics in the United States. In trying to better understand the relationships among class, inequality, and politics, my research focuses on the public’s attitudes about income inequality and redistribution, the influence of participation bias on political outcomes, how political decisions shape the income distribution, and the role of class identity in American politics.

  • Political and economic inequality
  • Class politics
  • Redistribution
  • Political participation
  • Public opinion
  • State and local politics
  • PhD in Political Science, 2012

    University of Iowa

  • MA in Political Science, 2007

    Kent State University

  • BA in Political Science, 2004

    Kent State University


The New Economic Populism: How States Respond to Economic Inequality
The New Economic Populism: How States Respond to Economic Inequality

In the The New Economic Populism: How States Respond to Economic Inequality (Oxford | 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.

The New Economic Populism is winner of the 2018 Virginia Gray Best Book Award. This award is given by the American Political Science Association State Politics and Policy Section to the best political science book published on the subject of U.S. state politics or policy in the preceding three calendar years.

Recent Publications

(2023). Unions, Class Identification, and Policy Attitudes. The Journal of Politics.

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(2022). Economic Segregation and Public Support for Redistribution. The Social Science Journal.

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(2021). How State Responses to Economic Crisis Shape Income Inequality and Financial Well-Being. State Politics & Policy Quarterly.

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(2020). Economic Segregation and Unequal Policy Responsiveness. Political Behavior.

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(2017). Government's Unequal Attentiveness to Citizens' Political Priorities. Policy Studies Journal.

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(2017). Understanding Public Perceptions of Growing Economic Inequality. State Politics & Policy Quarterly.

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(2016). Class Bias in Voter Turnout, Representation, and Income Inequality. Perspectives on Politics.

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Registered students can find course materials on eCampus.

My Senior Capstone Paper (POLS 487) advisees can download a copy of the Paper Plan and Guidelines

I am an instructor for the following courses at WVU:

  • State and Local Government (POLS 220)
  • Empirical Political Analysis (POLS 300)
  • The Politics of Economic Policy (POLS 334)
  • Intro. to Political Research (POLS 600)
  • Advanced Quantitative Analysis (POLS 603)

Past courses:

  • American Government
  • The Politics of Economic Inequality
  • The American Presidency
  • Research Methods (grad)
  • Research Design and Analysis (grad)
  • The Legislative Process

Curriculum Vitae