Who We Are

The Elections Research Center institutionalizes a long tradition of scholarship that has marked UW-Madison as a leader in the study of American elections. The Center builds on this history and seeks to ensure the continual prominence of Wisconsin as a home for expertise on elections.

Affiliates include Faculty, Visiting Faculty, Graduate Students, and Staff.

Director: Barry Burden

Barry Burden

Barry Burden is the founding director of the Elections Research Center. He holds the Lyons Family Chair in Electoral Politics and is Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned his Ph.D. at The Ohio State University and was a faculty member at Harvard University for seven years before joining UW-Madison in 2006. He is also an affiliate with the La Follette School of Public Affairs and is a member of the steering committee of the UW Survey Center.

Burden's research and teaching focus on U.S. elections, public opinion, representation, the U.S. Congress, and Japanese politics. His recent research has centered on aspects of election administration, causes of voter turnout, and the impacts of gender in voting.

He is the author of Personal Roots of Representation, co-editor with Charles Stewart of The Measure of American Elections, co-author with David Kimball of Why Americans Split Their Tickets, and editor of Uncertainty in American Politics. Burden has published articles in a range of academic journals including American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, British Journal of Political Science, Public Opinion Quarterly, Legislative Studies Quarterly, and Election Law Journal.

Faculty Affiliates

Rikhil Bhavnani

Rikhil R. Bhavnani

Rikhil R. Bhavnani is an Assistant Professor and Trice Faculty Fellow in the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a faculty affiliate at the La Folette School of Public Affairs, the Elections Research Center, and the Center for South Asia. His research and teaching focus on inequalities in political representation, the political economy of migration, and the political economy of development. In addition, he has begun work on the determinants of mass nonviolent mobilization. Bhavnani's research frequently relies on experimental and quasi0experimental methods, and is focused on South Asia. His papers have been published or are forthcoming in the American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, World Politics, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, the British Journal of Political Science, and the Economic Journal, among others.

David Canon

David T. Canon

David T. Canon is professor and chair of the political science department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and previously taught at Duke University. He also served as the Distinguished Fulbright Chair in Tübingen, Germany in 2011-2012 and Debrecen, Hungary in 2003-2004. His teaching and research interests are in American political institutions, especially Congress. His more specific research interests include election administration, racial representation, partisan realignments, political careers, and the historical study of Congress (especially congressional committees). He is author of Race, Redistricting, and Representation (University of Chicago Press, 1999, winner of the Richard F. Fenno award for the best book on legislative politics), The Dysfunctional Congress? The Individual Roots of an Institutional Dilemma (with Ken Mayer; Westview Press, 1999), Actors, Athletes, and Astronauts: Political Amateurs in the U.S. Congress (University of Chicago Press, 1990), American Politics Today (with William Bianco, WW Norton, 2013), several edited books, and various articles and book chapters. He also served as the Congress editor of Legislative Studies Quarterly.

Katherine Cramer

Katherine Cramer

Katherine Cramer (B.A. University of Wisconsin–Madison 1994, Ph.D. University of Michigan 2000) is Director of the Morgridge Center for Public Service and a professor in the Department of Political Science. Her work focuses on the way people in the United States make sense of politics and their place in it. She is known for her innovative approach to the study of public opinion, in which she invites herself into the conversations of groups of people to listen to the way they understand public affairs. She is the author most recently of The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness and the Rise of Scott Wwalker (University of Chicago Press, 2016).

Lew Friedland

Lewis A. Friedland

Lewis A. Friedland is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Departments of Sociology and Educational Psychology (affiliated), University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he directs the Center for Communication and Democracy. Friedland is also the holder of the Leon Epstein Fellowship in Letters and Sciences and received a Lady Davis Fellowship to the Hebrew University in 2014. He is currently a co-director of the Communication Policy Research Network. Friedland teaches and conducts research on theory of the public sphere and civil society, the changing structure of communication ecologies, and qualitative and social network research methods. Friedland received the Ph.D. in sociology from Brandeis University (1985) and his A.B from Washington University in St. Louis (1974). He is author or co-author of five books, including Civic Innovation in America with Carmen Sirianni (California 2001). Currently he is writing a book on civic communication in a network society and co-leading research on contentious politics in Wisconsin.

Young Mie Kim

Young Mie Kim

Young Mie Kim is an Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Donovan Wright Faculty Fellow of the College of Letters and Science. Kim’s research concerns politics in the digital age, and specifically, the role digital media play in political communication among political leaders, advocacy groups, and citizens. Her research demonstrates that the digital media environment has set a condition to facilitate the development of passionate publics who care about a particular issue almost exclusively based on their values, identities, and self-interests. Kim has collected a number of prestigious awards including the Best Article of the Year in Political Communication (by the joint division of Political Communication of the International Communication Association and American Political Science Association). Her research has appeared in flagship journals in the fields of Communication and Political Science such as the Journal of Politics, Journal of Communication, Communication Research and others. Kim was a Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, UK and obtained her Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Ken Mayer

Kenneth R. Mayer (Steering Committee)

Kenneth R. Mayer is Professor of Political Science, Leon Epstein Faculty Fellow, and affiliate faculty of the LaFollette School of Public Affairs at UW. His research and teaching interests include the presidency, campaign finance, public election funding, and election administration. His books include With the Stroke of a Pen: Executive Orders and Presidential Power (Princeton University Press, 2001), which won the 2002 Richard Neustadt Award for the best book published on the American Presidency; The 2012 Presidential Election: Forecasts, Outcomes, and Consequences (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014, with Amnon Cavari and Richard Powell, eds.); The Dysfunctional Congress (Westview Press, 1999, with David Canon); and The Political Economy of Defense Contracting (Yale University Press, 2001). His work on elections includes “Alien Abduction, and Voter Impersonation in the 2012 U.S. General Election: Evidence from a Survey List Experiment.” Election Law Journal 13:460-475 (No.4, December 2014), with John S. Ahlquist and Simon Jackman. He has been active as an expert witness and consultant in both state and federal court in cases involving redistricting, campaign finance, and voter ID, and for the U.S. Justice Department on voter list adminstration. Prior to coming to the UW in 1989, he was a consultant for the Washington D.C. Offices of the RAND Corporation.

Don Moynihan

Donald Moynihan

Donald Moynihan is Professor at the La Follette School of Public Affairs. His research has examined the motivations and decision-making behavior of local election officials, the use of different election technologies, the effects of election laws on turnout, and the relationship between health and political participation. His work has appeared in Nature, the American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory and other journals. Moynihan is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and the incoming President of the Public Management Research Association. In 2014, Moynihan won the Kershaw Award, provided every two years by Mathematica and the Association of Public Policy and Management to one scholar under the age of 40 for outstanding contributions to the study of policy and management. His book, The Dynamics of Performance Management, has won best book awards from the Academy of Management and the American Political Science Association.

Eleanor Neff Powell

Eleanor Neff Powell (Steering Committee)

Eleanor Neff Powell joined the Department of Political Science in the Fall of 2014 as an Assistant Professor and Trice Faculty Scholar. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2009, and previously served as an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale University before joining the UW-Madison faculty. Her current book project, Where Money Matters in Congress, examines the influence of money on the internal politics of Congress and the biases it has for the policy-making process. In addition to research on the influence of money, other research projects examine political parties, public opinion, and the U.S. Congress, and have appeared in or are forthcoming in the Journal of Politics, the British Journal of Political Science, and Political Science Research and Methods, among other journals.

Nils Ringe

Nils Ringe

Nils Ringe is Associate Professor in the Political Science Department and Director of the Center for European Studies at the University of Wisconsin. His interests center on European Union politics, political institutions, legislatures, social networks, political parties, and elections. His recent book (with Jennifer N. Victor) is titled Bridging the Information Gap: Legislative Member Organizations as Social Networks in the United States and the European Union (University of Michigan Press). It examines voluntary, issue-based, cross-partisan groups of legislators (such as caucuses in the U.S. Congress and intergroups in the European Parliament) in a comparative perspective. His previous book, Who Decides, and How? Preferences, Uncertainty, and Policy Choice in the European Parliament, was published in 2010 by Oxford University Press. Other research has been published in the American Journal of Political Science, the British Journal of Political Science, European Union Politics, the European Journal of Political Research, and American Politics Research.

Byron Shafer

Byron E. Shafer

Byron E. Shafer is Glenn B. and Cleone Orr Hawkins Chair of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Distinguished Fellow of the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford University. His most recent book is The American Political Pattern: Stability and Change, 1932–2016 (University Press of Kansas, 2016). He is currently working on The Long War: Party Structure and Democratic Representation in American Politics, with Regina L. Wagner. He is concerned with the "big picture" in American political life, and with locating scholarly research within this larger framework.

Dhavan Shah

Dhavan V. Shah

Dhavan V. Shah is the Louis A. & Mary E. Maier-Bascom Professor at the University of Wisconsin, where he is Director of the Mass Communication Research Center (MCRC) and Scientific Director in the Center for Health Enhancement System Studies (CHESS). Shah’s research focuses on communication influence on social judgments, civic and political engagement, and health support and behavior. He has developed three major lines of inquiry, with his most recent work extending insights and techniques from his prior examinations of the influence of news framing and the power of online interactions into the development and deployment of digital technologies for individual and community health. These programs of research center on: (1) the influence of message framing and processing on decision-making and opinion formation; (2) the capacity of mass and interpersonal communication, especially online communication, to encourage civic engagement and political participation; and (3) the effects of computer-mediated interactions, particularly the expression of social support, on the management of cancer, aging, and addiction. Across these domains of work, he has increasingly applied computational techniques to social science questions, exploring the role of social media harvesting, machine text coding, communication network mapping, and “big data” analytics.

Michael Wagner

Michael W. Wagner

Michael W. Wagner is Assistant Professor and Louis A. Maier Faculty Fellow in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at UW-Madison where he directs the Physiology and Communication Effects (PACE) Lab. He is also affiliated with the Department of Political Science. He earned his Ph.D. from Indiana University and has spent time on the faculty in political science departments at the University of Delaware and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Wagner studies how different elements of the information environment interact with social and individual-level factors to affect people’s preferences, partisanship and political behaviors. Wagner has published his research in books such as Political Behavior of the American Electorate (2014, CQ Press, with William Flanigan, Nancy Zingale, and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse) and in journals such as Journalism and Communication Monographs, Annual Review of Political Science, Journalism Practice, International Journal of Public Opinion Research and several other journals and edited books. With Ted Carmines and Mike Ensley, he is completing a book called Beyond the Left-Right Divide: How the Multidimensional Character of Mass Policy Preferences Affects American Politics (University of Chicago Press). He is also a regular contributor to PBS’ MediaShift. A winner of multiple classroom awards, Wagner teaches courses in political communication, political behavior, the physiology of communication effects and journalism.

Christopher Wells

Christopher Wells

Chris Wells is Associate Professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is co-director of the Social Media and Democracy (SMAD) and Communication in Contexts of Contentious Politics (CCCP) research groups. In these research groups, he has overseen the collection and analysis of billions of Twitter posts concerning US Presidential politics, Wisconsin state politics, and general political communication. Wells' theoretical interests center on how citizens become informed and engaged through digital media, the civic identity and communication preferences of youth and young adults, problems of misinformation and biased information processing, and how social media datasets can inform our understanding of political activism. His work has appeared in Journal of Communication, Political Communication, New Media & Society, and other journals, and he is the author of The Civic Organization and the Digital Citizen: Communicating Engagement in a Networked Age, published by Oxford University Press in 2015.

Michael Xenos

Michael Xenos

Michael Xenos is a Professor of Communication Science and currently serves as Chair of the Department of Communication Arts. He is also an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Life Sciences Communication. He earned his Ph.D. in Political Science, with a concentration in Political Communication, at the University of Washington. His research is focused on the effects of new media on political engagement, public deliberation, and campaigns and elections. Recently he has focused on the potential for social media to help young people learn about politics and engage in a variety of participatory behaviors. His work has been published in journals such as Political Communication, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, and Political Analysis. He also serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Information Technology & Politics, the official journal of the Information Technology and Politics section of the American Political Science Association.

Robert Yablon

Robert Yablon

Robert Yablon is an Assistant Professor at the Law School, where he teaches Civil Procedure, Federal Jurisdiction, and the Law of Democracy. His research interests include political and election law, constitutional law, federal courts, and statutory interpretation. He previously served as a law clerk to Judge William Fletcher of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and to U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. He has also worked in private practice at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. and has argued in a number of state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

Visiting Faculty Affiliates

Rick Matland

Rick Matland

Rick Matland is a Professor of Political Science at Loyola University Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. He has held positions at the University of Houston in Houston, Texas and the University of Bergen and the University of Trondheim in Norway. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Michigan in 1991. Methodologically, Dr. Matland uses a variety of tools, but has been especially active in running and publishing work based on field experiments. He has published several field experiments testing the efficacy of voter mobilization techniques in American elections. Furthermore, he has run field experiments in Norway, Turkey, Russia, and the United States. His work has been published in the American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, British Journal of Political Science, Political Research Quarterly, Comparative Political Studies, Social Science Quarterly, and Canadian Journal of Political Science, as well as many other journals and books.

Graduate Student Affiliates

Levi Bankston

Monica Busch

Helen Cho

Evan Crawford

Michael DeCrescenzo

Megan Duncan

Jack Edelson

Jordan Foley

Emma Frankham

Jordan Hsu

Ceri Hughes

David Lassen

Glen Licon

Daniel Metcalf

Maayan Mor

Tiffany Neman

Margarita Orozco

Katie Paulson-Smith

Ayellet Pelled

Mallory Perryman

Amelia Rufer

Matthew Shor

Rochelle Snyder

Jiyoun Suk

Zachary Warner

Yin Wu

JungHwan Yang


Michael DeCrescenzo

Michael DeCrescenzo

Michael DeCrescenzo serves as the graduate student assistant for the Elections Research Center. He is a Ph.D. student in political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studies American politics and political methodology.