Montana State University

Department of Political Science

Montana State University
P.O. Box 172240
Bozeman, MT 59717-2240

Tel: (406) 994-4141
Fax: (406) 994-6692
Location: 2-143 Wilson Hall

Department Head

Linda Young

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David C.W. Parker, Associate Professor

David C.W. Parker
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin - Madison, 2004

Curriculum: American politics, institutions, campaigns and elections, and political parties


PSCI 210IS - Intro to American Government
PSCI 306 - Legislative Processes
PSCI 341 - Political Parties & Elections
PSCI 346 - American Presidency
PSCI 444 - Congressional Campaigns

Research agenda: Congressional campaigns, congressional procedures, incumbency, representation, consequences of divided government, congressional communications, presidential success, and American political development

Blog: Montana Politics
Phone: 406-994-5163


David Parker

Professional Biography

Dr. Parker is an associate professor of political science at Montana State University. He is the author of The Power of Money in Congressional Campaigns, 1880-2006 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press), as well as articles on the consequences of divided government and how members of Congress build reputations with their constituents. His article, “Making a Good Impression: Resource Allocations, Home Styles, and Washington Work,” won the 2010 Alan Rosenthal Award from the American Political Science Association. His co-edited volume on archival research methodology, Doing Archival Work in Political Science, was published by Cambria press. As a respected non-partisan analyst of politics, he frequently provides media commentary for local, state and national news outlets — including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Associated Press, The Guardian, the Billings Gazette and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. His research on the Montana Senate race was featured in the PBS Frontline documentary “Big Sky, Big Money.” Prior to entering the academy, Dr. Parker worked as a field representative, communications director, and campaign manager for a presidential, mayoral, and two Senate campaigns. He also writes a blog entitled “Big Sky Political Analysis.”

Educational Background

Ph.D. in Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004. Fields: American Politics (Institutions, Parties, and Interest Groups), American Political Development and Methodology.

M.A. in Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1999.

B.A. in History and Political Science with High Distinction and Honors in History, Indiana University, Bloomington, 1995.

Academic Positions

Associate Professor (with tenure), Montana State University-Bozeman, 2012-present.

Assistant Professor, Montana State University-Bozeman, Summer 2008-2012.

Assistant Professor, Indiana University South Bend, Fall 2005-Spring 2008.

Assistant Professor, DePauw University, Fall 2004-Summer 2005 (one-year appointment).

Research & Publications

Two core questions comprise the heart of my research. First, I am interested in the dynamics of representation in the American political system; specifically, how members of the U.S. Congress communicate with and connect to their constituents. Second, as a scholar of political parties and legislative institutions, I empirically examine the consequences of divided government (when the presidency and Congress are controlled by two different political parties). In both cases, my work has tested existing theories with original datasets.

In my 2008 book, The Power of Money in Congressional Campaigns, 1880-2006, I explore how changing electoral rules shape the behavior of political actors in congressional campaigns. Specifically, I examine how state party institutionalization alters the voting behavior of members of Congress, and how the Federal Election Campaign Act strengthened political parties and encouraged congressional candidates to employ partisan issue agendas in their campaign advertisements. I develop a resource theory of campaigns, which simply suggests that the availability of campaign resources (e.g, reputations and money) affects the electoral strategies of candidates.

My interest in congressional parties includes examining the consequences of divided government. In his oft-cited work Divided We Govern, David Mayhew argues that more high-publicity probes of the executive branch are not a consequence of divided government. Matthew Dull at Virginia Tech and I challenge this. Although much time and effort has been focused on the number of bills produced by divided vs. unified government, we focus on whether divided government affects the length and scope of investigations of executive branch malfeasance. We find that divided control of government is associated with more frequent and longer investigations in the House of Representatives, particularly after Watergate and the 1975 congressional reforms. This article was published in Legislative Studies Quarterly in 2009.

My current projects include additional work on congressional oversight at the level of the committee (with Matthew Dull), a series of projects on the ways members of Congress use the official resources to communicate with constituents (with Craig Goodman and Justin Grimmer), and two monographs on Senate elections. The first is a book explaining why senators lose reelection, and the second is an examination of the 2012 Senate election in Montana between incumbent Senator Jon Tester and his challenger, Congressman Denny Rehberg.

Selected Publications:


Doing Archival Research: A Practical Guide for Political Scientists. 2012.Cambria University Press. Editor with Scott Frisch, Sean Kelly, and Douglas Harris.
The Power of Money in Congressional Campaigns, 1880-2006. University of Oklahoma Press. 2008.

Peer-Reviewed Articles

Parker, David C.W. and Matthew Dull. “The Weaponization of Congressional Oversight: The  Politics of the Watchful Eye, 1947-2010.” In Politics to the Extreme: American Political Institution  in the 21st Century, Scott A. Frisch and Sean Q Kelly, eds. 2013. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan

Parker, David C.W. and Matthew Dull. “Rooting Out Waste, Fraud, and Abuse: The Politics of  House Committee Investigations, 1947-2004.” Political Research Quarterly. 2013. 66(3): 630-644.

Parker, David C.W. and Craig Goodman. “Our State’s Never Had Better Friends: Resource  Allocation, Home Styles, and Dual Representation in the U.S. Senate.” Political Research Quarterly. 2013. 66(2): 368-383.

Goodman, Craig and David C.W. Parker. “Who Franks? Explaining the Allocation of Official Resources.” Congress and the Presidency. 2010. 37(3): 254-278.

Parker, David C.W. and Craig Goodman. “Making a Good Impression: Resource Allocations, Home Styles, and Washington Work.” Legislative Studies Quarterly. 2009 (34): 493-524.

Parker, David C.W. and Matthew Dull. “Divided We Quarrel: The Politics of Congressional Investigations, 1947-2004.” Legislative Studies Quarterly. 2009 (34): 319-345.

Book Chapters and Reviews (non peer-reviewed)

Dull, Matthew and David C.W. Parker. “Congressional Oversight: Overlooked or Unhinged?” APSA’s Legislative Studies Section, Extension of Remarks, 1-6. July 2012.

Review of Partisan Balance: Why Political Parties Don’t Kill the U.S. Constitutional System, by David R. Mayhew. The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics, Fall 2012. Forthcoming.

“The Consequences of Divided Government” in George Edwards III and William Howell (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the American Presidency, 383-402. Oxford University Press: Oxford. 2009. With John J. Coleman.

Review of Sharing the Wealth, by Damon Cann. Congress and the Presidency 36(1): 124-6.

“Simulations and Role-Playing (S&RP) Track Summary.” PS: Political Science and Politics 39(3): 540-1. 2006. With Amy Lovecraft, Wesley D. Chapin, and David Sadler.

“Pay to Play:  Parties, Interests, and Money in Federal Elections” in Ken Goldstein and Patricia Strach (eds.), The Medium and the Message: Television Advertising and American Elections.  Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. 2004. With John J. Coleman.<

Review of Unfree Speech: The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform, by Bradley A. Smith.  Congress and the Presidency 29(2): 234-6. 2002.


Parker, David C.W. and Robert Saldin. “What Max Baucus’s departure means for the Montana Senate race.” The Monkey Cage. The Washington Post. December 19, 2013.

“The Tangled Roots of Polarization.” Symposium Magazine. November 2013.

“Why the Democrats are in Trouble.” Symposium Magazine. September 2013.

“Negative Ads Not Negative.” (Op-ed). The American Democracy Project Weblog at IUSB, October 29, 2006. Also a radio essay that aired on NPR radio station WVPE November 13, 2006.

“A Defense of Partisan Redistricting.” (Op-ed). The American Democracy Project Weblog at IUSB, December 5, 2005.

“Vice and Virtues of Federalism.” (Op-ed). The American Democracy Project Weblog at IUSB, September 18, 2005.

“Enjoy Democratic Discourse, even when the Mud Flies.” (Op-ed). The Indianapolis Star, September 19, 2004, p. E3.


Recipient of a Montana State University Faculty Award for Excellence, 2011.

Awarded the Alan Rosenthal Prize for the best book or article in legislative studies by a junior scholar that has potential value to legislative practitioners, 2010.

Nominated for Montana State University’s Presidential Excellence in Teaching Award, 2010.

Nominated for IUSB Student Government Faculty Member of the Year, 2007.

Dan H. Eikenberry Scholarship, Department of History, Indiana University, 1994 and 1995.

Wendell L. Willkie Political Science Award, Indiana University, 1995.

Phi Beta Kappa, 1994.

Honors Division Undergraduate Scholarship, Indiana University, 1991-1995.