Cameron DeHart is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at Stanford University. His research focuses on the electoral institutions that shape state and local politics in the United States, the evolution of those institutions over time, and the policy outcomes that result.
In his book-style dissertation, he addresses the puzzle of American electoral exceptionalism - why does the U.S. fill so many government offices by direct election? He shows that the nation did not begin with expansive local democracy, and he presents original data on the number of state and county elected in each state from independence to the end of the 19th century. Contrary to the prevailing wisdom about these reforms, he argues that the growth of elective offices stemmed from elite fears that unitary executive power would fall into the hands of the newly-enfranchised poor. Thus, the main driver of office proliferation was not Jacksonian Democrats’ desire to expand spoils, nor western states’ desire to attract labor.
In other work, he explores strategic behavior in national institutions. In a manuscript currently under review, he shows how the majority party in the House can, and does, change the rules to improve their chances of overcoming minority obstruction by adding the territorial delegates to committees. This research contributes to the field’s understanding of partisanship in Congress and sheds light on a unique but under-studied institution in American politics.
Cameron holds an M.A. in Political Science from Stanford and a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from The Ohio State University. His research has been supported by the Tobin Project and the Bill Lane Center for the American West.