Byron E. Shafer

Position title: Professor Emeritus


Phone: (608) 263-1909

322A North Hall


Research Interests:

Research and teaching in American politics, broadly construed. Particular interests include: political parties, institutional reform, social cleavages, policy conflict, issue evolution, political orders, American political development, national party conventions, cultural issues, elections & voting, American exceptionalism, British politics, comparative politics of the G-7, empirical theory, classical political science, sociology of knowledge. Concerned with the ‘big picture’ in American political life, and with the contextual effects of this larger framework.


Major monographs on reform politics (Quiet Revolution: The Struggle for the Democratic Party and the Shaping of Post-Reform Politics), on institutional change (Bifurcated Politics: Evolution and Reform in the National Party Convention), on policy divisions (The Two Majorities: The Issue Context of Modern American Politics, with William J.M Claggett), on structural influences (The End of Southern Exceptionalism: Class, Race, and Partisan Change in the Postwar South, with Richard G.C. Johnston), on public opinion (The American Public Mind: The Issue Structure of Mass Politics in the Postwar United States, with William J.M. Claggett), on strategic dilemmas in our time (The American Political Landscape, with Richard H. Spady), on the changing structure of modern American politics (The American Political Pattern: Stability and Change, 1932-2016), and on the impact of alternative party structures on representation, within and across the parties (The Long War Over Party Structure: Democratic Representation and Policy Responsiveness in American Politics, with Regina L. Wagner).

Presently working on two further monographs: 1) Widening Gyre: Social Structure and Policy Preference in the Transformation of the American Party System, with Regina L. Warner, and 2) Eternal Bandwagon: The Politics of Presidential Nomination, with Elizabeth M. Sawyer.

Undergraduate lectures for the Honors Introduction to American Government, supported by an extensive library of campaign ads.  Graduate classes focused on alternative frameworks for approaching American political analysis, or on the changing structure of American politics.

Recent Publications:

The Long War Over Party Structure: Policy Responsiveness and Democratic Representation in American Politics, with Regina L. Wagner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019).

“The Trump Presidency and the Structure of Modern American Politics,” with Regina L.Wagner, Perspectives on Politics 17(June 2019), 340-357.

“Affirmations for an Aging Electoral Order: The Mid-Term Elections of 2018”, with Regina L. Wagner, The Forum 16(2018), Issue 1.

“Institutional Dynamics and Nominating Processes: Latest Twists on a Familiar Story, or Emergence of a Brave New World?”, with Elizabeth M. Sawyer, Presidential Studies Quarterly 48(2018), 586-610.