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April 30, 2002

SMU PROFESSOR RECEIVES GRANT TO STUDY SOUTHERN POLITICS

DALLAS (SMU) -- Dennis Simon, SMU associate professor of political science, has received a national grant to create the first database on U.S. House of Representative elections in the American South to understand better the region’s political transformation from a Democratic to Republican stronghold.

The grant from the Dirksen Congressional Center will allow Simon to study the changing fortunes of Southern politics by focusing on party loyalty, leadership and ideology in the House. Simon, whose academic expertise is public opinion and American elections, plans to create a database of all Southern congressional districts that will include such information as election results and roll call votes by Southern incumbents from 1936 to 2000. During this 64-year period, the South changed from a bastion of the Democratic Party to the home base of Republicans.

Political scientists have long studied why the change happened, but nobody has created an extensive database on House elections in the region. Once the data is compiled, Simon plans to examine turnover in Southern elections for the House, analyze the ideological differences between incumbents and successors and evaluate the impact of those changes on the House leadership.

“This research will contribute to our appreciation of how changing voting patterns and electoral turnover act as forces on the internal operations of the House and on the composition and style of the chamber’s leadership,” Simon says.

The grant will provide funds to hire a research assistant, purchase research materials and other support for the project. The Dirksen Congressional Center funds research on congressional leadership and the U.S. Congress. Everett Dirksen was leader of the Senate Republicans in the House during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.


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