Expertise: American politics, U.S. Congress, political parties, gender and politics

Danielle Thomsen, political science, studies American politics, U.S. Congress, and gender and politics. Her book, Opting Out of Congress: Partisan Polarization and the Decline of Moderate Candidates, examines the rise of partisan polarization in Congress. She finds that the benefits of serving in Congress today are too low for moderates to run, further exacerbating the ideological gulf between the two parties. She also studies contemporary patterns of women’s representation and why the number of Democratic women in Congress has increased dramatically since the 1980s while the number of Republican women has barely grown.

Her work, funded by the National Science Foundation, the American Association of University Women, the Dirksen Congressional Center, and the Social Science Research Council, has been published in the Journal of Politics, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Political Behavior, Political Research Quarterly, Politics, Groups, and Identities, and State Politics & Policy Quarterly.

Thomsen received her bachelor’s in political science and Spanish at Minnesota State University and her Ph.D. in government at Cornell University. She spent a year as a post-doctoral scholar at Duke University before joining the faculty at Syracuse University for three years. She accepted a position with UCI in 2018, served for a year as a visiting scholar at Princeton University, and now begins her official appointment at UCI.


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