Erik Engstrom

Professor of Political Science

University of California, Davis



I am a Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Davis.  My research and teaching focus on legislative politics, political parties, and American political development.  I have published four books. I recently published Race, Class, and Social Welfare: American Populism Since the New Deal (Cambridge, 2020, with Robert Huckfeldt)  which examines the relationship between populism, voting rights, and social welfare policies in the United States.  My book, The Politics of Ballot Design (Cambridge, 2021, with Jason M. Roberts) analyzes how politicians design ballot laws to influence elections.  My book on American electoral development in the 19th century, Party Ballots, Reform, and the Transformation of America's Electoral System (Cambridge, 2014, with Samuel Kernell) co-won the J. David Greenstone Prize for the Best Book on Politics and History (2015).  My book Partisan Gerrymandering and the Construction of American Democracy (University of Michigan, 2013) explored how gerrymandering has shaped political power in the United States from the Founding to the present. 


I served as the Department Chair for the UC Davis Political Science Department from 2017 to 2021. 


Prior to joining UC Davis in 2008 I was a faculty member at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill for five years.  I received my Ph.D. in 2003 from the University of California, San Diego. 



University of California, Davis

Professor, 2014-Present

Department Chair, 2017-2021

Director of Undergraduate Studies, 2012-2016

Associate Professor, 2008-2014

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Assistant Professor, 2003-2008

Kettering Foundation, Dayton, Ohio

Researcher: Deliberation and Civic Education, 1995-1997


University of California, San Diego

Ph.D. in Political Science, 2003 

University of Oregon

M.A. in Political Science, 1995

Portland State University

B.A. in Political Science, 1993



Populism and Social Welfare

Gerrymandering and Redistricting

  • Partisan Gerrymandering and the Construction of American Democracy (Michigan, 2013)

  • “Stacking the States, Stacking the House: The Politics of Congressional Redistricting in the 19th Century.” 2006. American Political Science Review 100 (August): 419–428 [pdf]

  • “Redistricting, Candidate Entry, and the Politics of 19th Century House Elections.” 2006. American Journal of Political Science 50 (April): 283–293.  (with Jamie L. Carson and Jason M. Roberts) [pdf]

  • “The United States: The Past – Moving from Diversity to Uniform Single-Member Districts.” In Handbook of Electoral System Choice, 2004. ed. Josep Colomer. London: Palgrave Press, 155–163 [pdf]

  • Erik J. Engstrom. 2004. “Redistricting and Electoral Competition: Some Historical Evidence.” Extensions of Remarks, Legislative Studies Newsletter July. [pdf]

Voting Rules and Representation

  • The Politics of Ballot Design: How the American States Shape Democracy (Cambridge, 2021) (with Jason M. Roberts)

  • Party Ballots, Reform, and the Transformation of America's Electoral System (Cambridge, 2014) (with Samuel Kernell) 

  • "Constitutional Innovation and Imitation in the American States." 2021. Political Research Quarterly (with Matthew Pietryka and John T. Scott)

  • “The Politics of Institutional Choice: Evidence from State Ballot Laws.” 2016. Ohio State Law Review 77(4): 839-865 (with Jason M. Roberts) [pdf]

  • “Capitol Mobility: Madisonian Representation and the Location and Relocation of Capitals in the United States.” 2013. American Political Science Review 107 (May): 225–240 (with Jesse Hammond and John T. Scott) [pdf]

  • “The Rise and Decline of Turnout in Congressional Elections: Electoral Institutions, Competition, and Strategic Mobilization.” 2012. American Journal of Political Science  56 (April): 373–386 [pdf]

  • “Candidate Quality, the Personal Vote, and the Incumbency Advantage in Congress.” 2007. American Political Science Review 101 (May): 289–302. (with Jamie L. Carson and Jason M. Roberts) [pdf]

  • “The Effects of Presidential Elections on Party Control of the Senate Under Indirect and Direct Elections.” In Process, Party, and Policy Making: New Perspectives on the History of Congress, eds. 2007. David Brady and Mathew McCubbins. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 37–52. (with Samuel Kernell) [pdf]

  •  “Assessing the Electoral Connection: Evidence from the Early United States.” 2005. American Journal of Political Science 49 (October): 746–757. (with Jamie L. Carson) [pdf]

  •  “Manufactured Responsiveness: The Impact of State Electoral Laws on Unified Party Control of the President and House of Representatives.” 2004.  American Journal of Political Science 49 (July): 547–565. (with Samuel Kernell) Winner of the Longley Prize for best journal article published on representation and electoral systems in 2005 awarded by Electoral Systems and Representation section of APSA  [pdf]

Legislative Politics

  •  “Congressional Elections: Electoral Structure and Political Representation” in New Directions in Congressional Politics, 2nd Edition. 2019. Jamie L. Carson, ed. London: Routledge Press. (A substantially revised version of 2011 chapter) [pdf]

  •  “Do Moderate Voters Weigh Candidates’ Ideology? Voter Decision Rules in the 2010 Congressional Elections.” 2016. Political Behavior (with James Adams, Danielle Joesten, Jon Rogowski, Boris Shor, and Walter Stone) [pdf]

  • “Congressional Elections: Electoral Structure and Political Representation” in New Directions in Congressional Politics. 2011. Jamie L. Carson, ed. London: Routledge Press.

  • “Assessing the Partisan Allocation of Pork: Evidence from Congressional Earmarks.”  2010. American Politics Research 38 (November): 959–985 (with Georg Vanberg) [pdf] 

  • “The Impact of Unified Government on Campaign Finance.” 2010. Legislative Studies Quarterly 35 (November): 543–569 (with William Ewell) [pdf]

  • “Testing the Basis of Incumbency Advantage: Strategic Candidates and Term Limits in the California Legislature.” 2006. State Politics and Policy Quarterly 11 (March): 1–20 (with Nathan Monroe) [pdf]

  • “Serving Competing Principals: The Budget Estimates of OMB and CBO in an Era of Divided Government.” 1999. Presidential Studies Quarterly 29 (November): 820–830. (with Samuel Kernell) [pdf]



Phone 530-752-0966



Department of Political Science

469 Kerr Hall

University of California, Davis,

One Shields Avenue

Davis, CA 95616

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