Ryan M. Powers

Department of Political Science,

University of Wisconsin–Madison


Photo of Ryan Powers I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. I specialize in international relations and comparative politics. My research interests include public opinion on trade and other aspects of globalization, international trade agreements, foreign aid, and international organizations.

My research is published in International Organization and World Development. I have also published a number of pieces in Foreign Policy and The Monkey Cage.

I have received outside support for my research from the National Science Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the MacArthur Foundation.

I am affiliated with the Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations at the College of William & Mary as a Principal Investigator on the Teaching, Research and International Policy (TRIP) Project.



Macroprotection: How Public Opinion Shapes Trade Policy

Public support for trade openness can change substantially over relatively short periods of time. I document this variation and show that it has politically and economically important effects on the level of protection that policy makers supply to import-competing industries.

In the first half of the project, I argue that support for trade openness varies over time as a result of changes in the relative salience of the cross-cutting effects of trade liberalization: access to a wider variety of less costly consumer goods and the displacement of workers as a result of increased competition from abroad. I test this argument using observational and experimental survey data at the individual and aggregate levels.

In the second half of the project, I argue that variation in public opinion shapes the context in which policy makers and import-competing interests bargain over trade policy. When the public is relatively more sympathetic to protectionist interests, protection is less costly for policy makers to supply and for import-competing interests to secure. Thus, in times significant protectionist sentiment among the public, protection is not just for sale, but also on sale.


Jon C. W. Pevehouse (chair), Mark S. Copelovitch, Lisa L. Martin, Jonathan Renshon, and Jessica L. P. Weeks.



  • “The Unipolar Fallacy: Common Agency, American Interests, and the International Financial Institutions” (with Mark Copelovitch, Daniel Nielson, and Michael J. Tierney).
  • “The Global Study of International Relations,” (with Daniel Maliniak, Susan Peterson, and Michael J. Tierney).


  • “Veto Players and Conditional Commitment to U.N. Human Rights Agreements” (with Patrick Kearney).
  • “International Status and Presidential Approval” (with Jonathan Renshon).
  • “Are Mass Preferences for Foreign Aid Like Mass Preferences for Trade?”


  • Lecturer, PS 359: Problems in American Foreign Policy, Summer 2016.
  • Teaching Assistant, PS 371: International Political Economy, Summer 2012, Summer 2013, and Summer 2015 for Professor Mark Copelovitch.