After years of relative stability - 40 years of uninterrupted Democratic control of the House of Representatives, followed by 12 years of Republican control - congressional elections saw dramatic swings in 2006, 2010, and 2014. The conditions for elections have also changed in highly publicized ways. The Supreme Court''s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Paul Herrnson writes, meant that, "the 2010 congressional elections ushered in a new era of interest group participation in federal elections." At the same time campaign communication and finance have been transformed through new uses of the internet; and the terrain of elections altered through reapportionment and the underlying, geographic "partisan sort" of the country.
In these senses there may be a new politics of congressional elections. Yet how significant are these changes? Do they clearly favor one party or the other, or some groups over others? What are the prospects for reforms such as different methods of redistricting, or changes in campaign finance? What difference might any reforms make?
Paul Herrnson is easily one of the nation's leading experts on our topic. The 7th edition of his textbook, Congressional Elections: Campaigning at Home and in Washington, will be released this Fall. He is also an influential scholar of interest groups, having most recently co-edited Interest Groups Unleashed (2013) with Christopher Deering and Clyde Wilcox. Join us to hear about the latest and best scholarship on the contest to control the "first branch" of the United States government.
Paul Herrnson earned his PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his BA at Binghamton University. He is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Connecticut. His primary interests include political parties and elections, money and politics, public opinion, and voting technology and ballot design. He teaches courses on Congressional Elections and other aspects of American politics.