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R. M. (Michael) Alvarez

Professor of Political and Computational Social Science
Michael Alvarez headshot
Contact information for R. M. (Michael) Alvarez
Contact Method Value
Mail Code: MC 228-77
Administrative Assistant:
B.A., Carleton College, 1986; M.A., Duke University, 1990; Ph.D., 1992. Assistant Professor, Caltech, 1992-95; Associate Professor, 1995-2002; Professor, 2002-.

Research Interests

American Voting Behavior; Campaigns and Elections; American Government; Macro-political Economy; Positive Theory/Public Choice; Comparative Politics; Quantitative Methodologies


Social and Decision Neuroscience; Political Science; Statistical Methodology


Michael Alvarez's research focuses on public opinion and voting behavior, election technology and administration, electoral politics, political campaigns, and statistical and computational modeling. He has long been interested in empirically testing formal models of elections and voting behavior. For example, he studied the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election with Caltech's Rod Kiewiet to test basic assumptions behind rational-choice models of decision making.

Since 2000, most of his work has related to the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project, studying current voting technologies and election administration and procedures as well as developing ways to improve the current system. Alvarez and his colleagues are pioneering new theories and methods for studying election administration and procedures, both in the United States and abroad.

Alvarez also studies electoral politics and voting behavior. His recent research has looked at the way applications like "voter advice applications" might influence how informed voters are and whether they turn out to vote. In other recent studies conducted with J. Andrew Sinclair (USC), Alvarez has examined the new "top-two" primary in California and evaluated the efficacy of open primary procedures. 

Alvarez is a fellow of the Society for Political Methodology and was recognized by Scientific American magazine for outstanding acts of leadership in science and technology as a policy leader in the computing category in 2004. He received the Emerging Scholar Award in the Elections, Public Opinion, and Voting Behavior Section of the American Political Science Association in 2001. He also received the Caltech Graduate Student Council Mentoring Award for 2006–2007.

Selected Publications

Click here for a complete list of Professor Alvarez's publications.