“Middle Atlantic Congressional Elections and the Development of American Electoral Democracy, 1789-1824”: Homecoming Colloquium with MU’s Jay Dow


For our annual Friday-of-Homecoming colloquium and reception, MU Professor of Political Science Jay Dow will give a talk on the emergence of “routinized” elections in the U.S. (see below for abstract). Free and open to the public, the talk will be held on October 11 at 3:30pm in Jesse Hall 410. The talk is part of our “Pursuit of Happiness Hour” Friday Colloquium Series, made possible with the support of Logboat Brewing Co.


This talk explores the emergence of “routinized” elections in the early United States. By “routinized” I mean the establishment of elections as the primary means by which ordinary citizens convey their political goals, aspirations, and preferences to governing elites and hold these officials accountable for their actions in office. To do so, I use constituency-level election returns from middle Atlantic region elections to the United States House of Representatives to inform questions of party development, popular participation in politics, and citizen response to political events. These questions are arguably best illuminated by legislative elections because the assembly is the central organ of republican government, and because for most citizens the legislative constituency was their primary point of contact with the national government.


Jay Dow is Professor of Political Science and 2017-2020 Frederick A. Middlebush Chair in Political Science. Before coming to the University of Missouri, he earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Oregon and a Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin. Professor Dow’s research focuses on voting and elections, which he approaches from the public choice tradition in political science, as reflected in his 2017 book, Electing the House: The Adoption and Performance of the Single-Member District Electoral System (University Press of Kansas). Professor Dow regularly teaches courses on American government, parties and elections, and American political thought, as well as the “Constitutional Debates” course for the Kinder Institute’s Honors College series, and he also organizes the Jefferson Book Club, an extracurricular undergraduate reading group that meets monthly to discuss great books in the classical liberal tradition.