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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Christopher Wlezien

Professor Ph.D., University of Iowa

Hogg Professor of Government
Christopher Wlezien


Christopher Wlezien is Hogg Professor of Government.  He joined the faculty in 2013 from Temple University in Philadelphia.  Previously he taught at Oxford University, where he was Reader of Comparative Government and a Fellow of Nuffield College. While at Oxford, he co-founded the ESRC-funded Oxford Spring School in Quantitative Methods for Social Research. Before that, he taught at the University of Houston, where he was founding director of the Institute for the Study of Political Economy. He holds or has held visiting positions at Columbia University, European University Institute (Florence), Instituto Empresa (Madrid), Juan March Institute (Madrid), University of Mannheim (Germany), McGill University (Montreal), Sciences Po (Paris), and the University of Manchester (UK). He received his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1989 and his B.A. from Saint Xavier College (Chicago) in 1984. 

His primary, ongoing research develops a “thermostatic” model of public opinion and policy and examines the dynamic interrelationships between preferences for spending and budgetary policy in various domains. A cross-national investigation focusing on the US, the UK, and Canada is the subject of a book titled Degrees of Democracy, published by Cambridge University Press. Wlezien edited a related book published by Cambridge University Press. Wlezien edited a related book on Who Gets Represented?, which was published by the Russell Sage Foundation. His most recent paper in the area tests theories about the effects of federalism, executive-legislative imbalance, and the proportionality of electoral systems in 17 countries.

His other major area of research addresses the evolution of voter preferences expressed in pre-election polls over the course of the election cycle. It has been the subject of numerous articles on the US and a book The Timeline of Presidential Elections that was published in 2012 by the University of Chicago Press. that was published in 2012 by the University of Chicago Press. A related e-book The 2012 Election and the Timeline of Presidential Elections was published in 2014.  His current work in the area undertakes cross-national analysis, the first paper on which examines how political institutions condition the structure and evolution of electoral preferences.

Wlezien was founding co-editor of the international Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties.  He currently is Associate Editor of Public Opinion Quarterly and Parliamentary Affairs and a member of the editorial boards of six other journals. At the University of Texas, he is chair of the methods field in the Department of Government and is a faculty affiliate of the Policy Agendas Project and the Center for European Studies.


Public opinion, public policy, political institutions, elections, research methods

GOV 370L • Political Representation

38975 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm MEZ B0.306
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Political Representation

Course Description

This course examines the relationship between the public and elected officials in representative democracy.  It builds on democratic political theory but focuses mostly on empirical practice, particularly in the United States (US).  Special attention is paid to the representation of public opinion in the composition of elected bodies, the positions politicians take, and government policy actions themselves.  Along the way, we consider the roles played by characteristics of issues, electoral competition, political institutions, and political inequality, among other things.  By the end of the course, students should have a good sense for how well and why elected officials represent the public in the US. 

Course Format

The course will consist of lectures and discussion.  Thus, while the course is not a seminar, class participation is essential.  Student will need to keep up with the substantial reading and then be prepared to participate.  To encourage this, students will receive extra credit based on the quality—not just quantity—of their contributions to class discussion.  (See the description of “Grades” for details.)

Grades (tentative)

The main graded components for this class are the midterm and final examinations. Performance in the class will be assessed as follows:

  40%         General class performance

  60%         Final examination

+0-5 %      Participation

NOTE: A short “think” paper may be required in lieu of a final examination, in which case the final examination would be replaced by a 2nd midterm examination worth 40% of the final grade and the paper would be worth 20%. 

Readings (tentative)

The course readings will include numerous articles and books, including the following:


Erikson, Robert and Kent Tedin. 2011.  American Public Opinion, 8th edition.  New York: Pearson,


Erikson, Robert S., Gerald C. Wright, and John P. McIver. 1993.  Statehouse Democracy: Public Opinion and Policy in the American States. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Soroka, Stuart and Christopher Wlezien. 2010.  Degrees of Democracy: Politics, Public Opinion and Policy.  New York: Cambridge University Press.

GOV 384M • Public Opinion & Public Policy

39450 • Spring 2014
Meets M 1230pm-330pm BAT 5.102
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Course Description

This course examines the interrelationships between public opinion and public policy in the US and other countries, and should be of relevance to students of American Politics, Comparative Politics, and Public Policy.  It is designed to meet the needs of graduate students who hope to do original research, master a doctoral field, or teach in the area.  The literature that has been chosen is not inclusive of the wide-ranging and rapidly-expanding work that comprises the field, and encompasses those areas of recurrent scholarly interest, but should serve as a useful starting point.  The reading will give you a good sense for what we have learned about the subject and help you identify your own avenues for research.


Course Format

The class is a seminar.  Throughout the semester, participants will engage in two basic activities.  First, each week we will as a group plough through a set of assigned readings on the scheduled topic.  All students are expected to do all reading and be prepared to actively participate, as this is critical to the healthy functioning of the seminar.  Second, beginning in week 3, one or two students will take responsibility for each session.  This should promote participation, limit my proclivity for filibustering, and help prepare each student for the day when he or she must lead a class.  Seminar leaders are expected to distribute by e-mail five discussion questions for the class meeting. 



The main assignment for this class is the preparation of an original research paper, about which more detailed information will be provided in class, first in week 1 and then during the course, as appropriate. 


Performance in the class will be assessed as follows:


25%  General class performance

25%  Class presentations

50%  Research paper

  •  5%   Hypothesis
  • 10%  Proposal
  • 35%  Final Paper.



The course readings will include numerous articles and books, including the following:

Brooks, Clem and Jeff Manza.  2007.  Why Welfare States Persist: Public Opinion and the Future of Social Provision.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Dalton, R., Farrell, D. & McAllister, I. 2012. Political Parties and Democratic Linkage. How Parties Organize Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Soroka, Stuart and Christopher Wlezien. 2010.  Degrees of Democracy: Politics, Public

 Opinion and Policy.  New York: Cambridge University Press.

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