Kenneth R. Mayer

Position title: Professor | American Politics

201D North Hall

Affiliated with Lafollette School of Public Affairs


Ph.D. in Political Science, Yale University, 1988

M.A. in Political Science, Yale University, 1987

B.A. in Political Science, University of California-San Diego, 1982

Research Interests:

Australia, Campaign Finance, Election Administration, Elections, Political Institutions, Presidency, Unilateral Powers


His teaching and research interests are in American government and institutions (especially Congress and the Presidency), campaign finance, and election administration.  His current research focuses on and evaluating the effectiveness of recent state-level campaign finance reforms, and election administration.

He is the author of With the Stroke of a Pen: Executive Orders and Presidential Power (Princeton University Press, 2001), The Political Economy of Defense Contracting (Yale University Press, 1991),The Dysfunctional Congress? The Individual Roots of an Institutional Dilemma (Westview Press, 1999, with David T. Canon), and Presidential Leadership: Politics and Policymaking,10th ed. (Roman and Littlefield, 2018, with George C. Edwards, III and Stephen J, Wayne).

His work has appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of PoliticsLegislative Studies QuarterlyPublic Administration ReviewElection Law JournalPS: Political Science and Politics, and Regulation.

Awards include: Leon Epstein Faculty Fellow award (College of Letters and Science (2012-2015); Jerry J. and Mary M. Cotter Award (College of Letters and Science, 2011-2012); Fulbright Distinghuished Chair in Political Science, Australian National University, Canberra ACT (2006); the Alliant Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Award (UW System, 2006); the Vilas Associates award  (College of Letters and Science, 2003-2004); and the 2002 Richard M. Neustadt Award, awarded by the Presidency Research Group of the American Political Science Association for the best book published on the presidency in 2001, for With the Stroke of a Pen).

He is active as an expert witness in campaign finance, redistricting, and voter ID litigation.  Recent cases include Gill v. Whitford (Western District of Wisconsin, partisan gerrymandering, 2016);  One Wisconsin Institute v. Nichol (Western District of Wisconsin, voting rights, 2016); Milwaukee Breanch of the NAACP et al. v. Scott Walker, et al. (voter ID case heard in Dane County, 2012); Baldus et al. v. Brennan et al (Eastern District of Wisconsin, redistricting litigation, 2011-2012); and  McComish et al. v Brewer et al. (Arizona public election funding case, 2008-2009).  He has also consulted on recount disputes and Voting Rights Act matters.


PS 904: Classics in American Politics Spring 2023

PS 104: Introductions to American Politics and Government Spring 2023

PS 511 Campaign Finance Fall 2019-2020

PS 408 The American Presidency Fall 2019-2020

PS 828 The Contemporary Presidency: Issues and Approaches Spring 2018-2019

PS 408 The American Presidency Spring 2018-2019

PS 511 Campaign Finance Fall 2018-2019

PS 104 Introduction to American Politics and Government Fall 2018-2019

PS 904 Classics in American Politics Spring 2017-2018

PS 904 Seminar-American Politics Spring 2017-2018

PS 104 Introduction to American Politics and Government Spring 2017-2018

PS 601 Proseminar: Election Reform in America Fall 2017-2018

PS 104 Introduction to American Politics and Government Fall 2017-2018

PS 408 The American Presidency Spring 2016-2017

PS 104 Introduction to American National Government Spring 2016-2017

PS 904 Classics in American Politics Spring 2015-2016

PS 408 The American Presidency Spring 2015-2016

PS 104 Introduction to American National Government Fall 2015-2016



Co-author, Robert H. Durr 2013 Award for the best paper applying quantitative methods to a substantive problem in political science Midwest Political Science Association


Leon Epstein Faculty Fellow, UW-Madison College of Letters and Science

Honored Instructor Award, UW-Madison Housing

Hear from Professor Mayer on these episodes of the 1050 Bascom Podcast!