B.A., Muhlenburg College; M.A., Brown University; Ph.D., University of California (Los Angeles)
Visiting Lecturer in Political Science
Investigates the interaction between political parties and other political institutions such as interest groups and presidents.
My dissertation examines a subject of much debate: how do groups obtain representation in American politics? Normally groups influence politics through the political parties. In some cases, however, groups have unpopular goals and powerful groups in both parties block their agenda. Politicians typically straddle the demands of new groups rather than unsettle the party. The groups need to influence the nomination process to gain a voice.
In the future, I will explain how changes in the party structure changed the routes to nominating power. In the party system of the mid-twentieth century, controlling nominations meant controlling friendly delegates elected to party nominating conventions. In the late 20th century, party nominations were relatively open. Christian conservatives influenced primary elections in Iowa and South Carolina to force ambitious presidential Republican candidates to accommodate them. Religious groups were also able to capitalize on Super Tuesday beginning in 1988.
In addition to teaching about parties and interest groups, I have taught courses about American presidents many times. During the fall, I will be a guest speaker at a number of campus events discussing the 2012 presidential election.
I have presented at the annual meetings of the American Political Science Association, the Midwest Political Science Association, and the New England Political Science Association.