Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2023


Oxford University Press

Source Publication

Political Science Quarterly

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

DOI: 10.1093/psquar/qqad003


State and local officials played an almost unprecedented role in the implementation of the 2020 census. Given a variety of fiscal and political challenges, subnational governments collectively invested billions of dollars to motivate participation in the count, especially among historically undercounted populations. Nevertheless, state and local investments in the census varied substantially. This article examines the roots of variation in state and local census investments, drawing on a set of 76 interviews with public officials and nonprofit leaders, as well as quantitative analyses of state and local decisions. The results indicate that census investments depend on the salience of the 2020 count to public officials, the partisan identities and incentives of governing coalitions, and the availability of subnational institutional capacity for census operations. These findings have important implications for how we think about the role of intergovernmental relations in supporting critical governance tasks in an increasingly turbulent institutional context.


Accepted version. Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 138, No. 2 (Summer 2023): 189-216. DOI. © 2023 Wiley. Used with permission.

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