Achen challenges popular conceptions of American democracy

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In the early 2000s, Christopher Achen wandered into a bookstore across from campus where he spotted two books about shark attacks along the New Jersey coast that killed four people over 12 days and sparked a panic in 1916. Those books gave Achen an idea, a way to test a theory he and colleague Larry Bartels had been batting around as part of a broader conversation about the way American democracy does — and doesn’t — work.