David R. Mayhew

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For the NASCAR driver, see David Mayhew (racing driver).

David R. Mayhew (born May 18, 1937) is a political scientist and Sterling Professor in the Political Science Department at Yale University. He is the author of eight influential books on American politics, and is widely considered one of the leading scholars on the American Congress.[1] Mayhew has been a member of the Yale faculty since 1968. He has also taught at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst College, Oxford University, and Harvard University.[2]

In Congress: The Electoral Connection, Mayhew argued that much of the organization of the United States Congress can be explained as the result of re-election seeking behavior by its members. In Divided We Govern, he disputed the previously accepted notion that, when Congress and the presidency are controlled by different parties, less important legislation is passed than under unified government. The book won the 1992 Richard E. Neustadt prize.[3]

His most recent book, Partisan Balance: Why Political Parties Don't Kill the U.S. Constitutional System (Princeton University Press, 2011), contends that majoritarianism largely characterizes the American system. The wishes of the majority tend to nudge institutions back toward the median voter. Partisan Balance won the 2011 Leon D. Epstein Outstanding Award from the American Political Science Association.[4]

Mayhew earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1964, and his B.A. from Amherst College in 1958. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[5] In 2002, he received from the American Political Science Association the James Madison Award, which, awarded triennelly, "recognizes an American political scientist who has made a distinguished scholarly contribution to political science."[6] In 2004, he received the Samuel J. Eldersveld Award for lifetime achievement also from the American Political Science Association.[7] In 2007, Mayhew was elected to the American Philosophical Society,[8] and on April 30, 2013, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.[9]


  • "If a group of planners sat down and tried to design a pair of American national assemblies with the goal of serving members' reelection needs year in and year out, they would be hard pressed to improve on what exists."
  • "As an expressive institution Congress, in short, is noisy, versatile, and effective."
  • '"Probably half the adverse criticism of Congress by elites is an indirect criticism of the public itself."



  • Party Loyalty among Congressmen, (Harvard University Press, 1966)
  • Congress: The Electoral Connection, (Yale University Press, 1974; reissued 2004)
  • Placing Parties in American Politics, (Princeton University Press, 1986)
  • America's governmental and National Congress: Actions in the Public Sphere, (Yale University Press, 2000)
  • Electoral Realignments: A Critique of an American Genre (Yale University Press, 2002)
  • Divided We Govern: Party Control, Lawmaking, and Investigations, 1946-2002, (Yale University Press, 2005)
  • Parties and Policies: How the American Government Works (Yale University Press, 2008)
  • Partisan Balance: Why Political Parties Don't Kill the U.S. Constitutional System, (Princeton University Press, 2011)

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