Byron E. Shafer

Professor Emeritus

(608) 263-1909

322A North Hall


Ph.D., University of California-Berkeley, 1979, in Political Science

B.A., Yale University, 1968, in Political Science

Research Interests:

American Political Development, Elections, Political Culture, Political Orders, Political Parties, Presidency, Public Opinion, Public Policy, Race, Religion, Structural Change, Voting Behavior


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, electoral campaigns, 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 locating further research within 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; for the codebook and dataset from this project in Stata format, click here), and on strategic dilemmas in our time (The American Political Landscape, with Richard H. Spady; Harvard University Press, 2014). Many recent article-length pieces collected in The Two Majorities and the Puzzle of Modern American Politics.

Presently working on two further monographs: 1) Widening Gyre: Social Structure and Policy Preference in the Transformation of the American Party System, 2) Party Balance, Partisan Polarization, and Policy Conflict: American Politics 1932-2015.

Undergraduate lectures supported by an extensive library of campaign ads. For a current undergraduate class, click on PS 184. For the larger enterprise of which these ads are a part, see Wisconsin Advertising Project and Wesleyan Advertising Project. Graduate classes taught in modified master-class format. For a current example, click on PS 904. I am also Editor of The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics, which applies professional political science to current political developments.


Elizabeth Sawyer and Bryon Shafer.  “Institutional Dynamics and Nominating Processes: The Latest Twists on a Familiar Story, or the Emergence of a Brave New World?” Presidential Studies Quarterly, September 2018.

Byron E. Shafer and Regina L. Wagner (2016): Modern Eras and Alternative Futures: The American Elections of 2016 in the Longest Run. The Forum 14(4), p. 399-413.

The Forum 14(4), p. 399-413

Byron E. Shafer, Regina L. Wagner, and Par Jason Engle (2014): The 2014 Midterm in the Longest Run: The Puzzle of a Modern Era. The Forum 12(4), p. 591-608.



Samuel J. Eldersveld Career Achievement Award