David R. Mayhew is Sterling Professor of Political Science at Yale University. He is a specialist in American politics whose works include Congress: The Electoral Connection (1974); Divided We Govern (1991); Electoral Realignments (2002); and Partisan Balance (2011). He grew up in Killingly, Connecticut, earned a BA at Amherst College in 1958 and under the supervision of V.O. Key, Jr. a Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1964. He has taught at Yale since 1968 and for shorter stints at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), Amherst College, Oxford University, and Harvard University. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Philosophical Society. In 2002, he received the James Madison Award from the American Political Science Association for distinguished career contributions.

Research Interests

Congress, parties, elections, policymaking and political history have been Mayhew's general domain. In the 1970s, in a vein of early, soft rational choice, he presented the typology of "credit claiming," "position taking," and "advertising" as an analytic key to the animations of members of Congress who seek reelection. Beyond this, he has specialized in measurement of often soft data. He has created and made use of datasets on such subjects as the volume significant laws enacted by Congress, congressional investigations, strength of party organizations, incumbency advantage in congressional and presidential elections, "actions" by individual members of Congress from the 1790s through the 1980s, and high-importance White House proposals to Congress. He has written on Senate filibustering and on the roles of wars and contingency in U.S. political history. In the large, he has wrestled with such questions as: What animates politicians? What are the outcome differences between unified and divided party control of the government? Does U.S. political history sort into cyclical periods? Have the two parties enjoyed more or less equal luck in getting what they want out of government? Across history, how has Congress stacked up as a handler of challenges?

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Primary Section

Section 53: Social and Political Sciences