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Erik J. Engstrom


  • Ph.D., Political Science, University of California, San Diego, 2003
  • M.A., Political Science, University of Oregon, 1995
  • B.A., Political Science, Portland State University, 1993


Erik Engstrom specializes in the study of the U.S. Congress, political parties, and American political development. He is the author of four books: The Politics of Ballot Design (with Jason M. Roberts, 2021, Cambridge), Race, Class, and Social Welfare (with Robert Huckfeldt, 2020, Cambridge), Partisan Gerrymandering and the Construction of American Democracy (2013, Michigan) and co-author of Party Ballots, Reform, and the Transformation of America’s Electoral System (with Samuel Kernell, 2014, Cambridge). His research articles have appeared in leading political science journals, including the American Political Science Review and the American Journal of Political Science. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation. He served as the Department Chair from 2017 to 2021. Prior to joining UC Davis in 2008 he served as a faculty member for five years at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 

Research Focus

Professor Engstrom’s research focuses on legislative politics, political parties, and American political development. The bulk of his research examines the historical development of America's electoral system and its impact on electoral competition and legislative representation. 

Selected Publications

  • Engstrom, E. J., & Roberts, J. (2021) The Politics of Ballot Design, Cambridge University Press
  • Engstrom, E.J. & Huckfeldt, R. (2020) Race, Class, and Social Welfare: American Populism Since the New Deal, Cambridge University Press
  • Engstrom, E. J., & Kernell, S. (2014) Party Ballots, Reform, and the Transformation of America’s Electoral System, Cambridge University Press 
  • Engstrom, E. J. (2013) Partisan Gerrymandering and the Construction of American Democracy, University of Michigan Press. 
  • Engstrom, E. J., Hammond, J. R., & Scott, J. T. (2013) Capitol mobility: Madisonian representation and the location and relocation of capitals in the United States, American Political Science Review 107 (May): 225–240.  
  • Engstrom, E. J. (2012) The rise and decline of turnout in congressional elections: Electoral institutions, competition, and strategic mobilization, American Journal of Political Science 56 (April): 373–386.  
  • Engstrom, E. J., & Vanberg, G. (2010) Assessing the partisan allocation of pork: Evidence from congressional earmarks, American Politics Research 38 (November): 959–985. 
  • Carson, J. L., Engstrom, E. J., & Roberts, J. (2007) Candidate quality, the personal vote, and the incumbency advantage in congress, American Political Science Review 101 (May): 289–302.  


Professor Engstrom teaches the undergraduate courses Legislative Politics (POL 105) and U.S. Political Parties (POL 160). He teaches graduate courses on American Political Institutions. 


  • J. David Greenstone Prize, 2015, for the best book in Politics and History (with Samuel Kernell), awarded by the Politics and History section of APSA (for Party Ballots, Reform, and the Transformation of American Politics).  
  • Longley Prize for best journal article published on representation and electoral systems in 2005 (with Samuel Kernell), awarded by Electoral Systems and Representation section of APSA (for Manufactured responsiveness: The impact of state electoral laws on unified party control of the president and House of Representatives, 1840–1940). 
  • Spray-Randleigh Faculty Fellowship, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 2003 & 2004.