University of California, Los Angeles 2012


American Politics and Methods

Forthcoming Book

First to the Party: The Group Origins of Party Transformation

First to the Party shows how two marginal social groups – civil rights activists in the 1940s and religious conservatives in the 1980s – achieved many of their goals by becoming core players in a political party. In each case, the group faced opposition within its chosen party but allied with friendly partisans to marginalize opponents and nominate politicians committed to their priorities. Trying to influence office holders whom the groups had no hand in nominating proved ineffective: office holders would promise benefits but do nothing that displaced core supporters or median voters. Mobilizing nonpolitical groups for political purposes was the road to success. In both cases, marginal social groups rather than politicians drove the process, creating transformed parties that would stand up for rather than straddle the issues they cared about.

Media Appearances

"Is the Electoral College a Rubber Stamp or Protection against Demagogues." This Week in Politics, WNYC News.


First to the Party: The Group Origins of the Partisan Transformation on Civil Rights, 1940-1960. Studies in American Political Development. Volume 27 (October, 2013).

"Is Donald Trump leading a realignment of the GOP? Maybe not" - The Monkey Cage at the Washington Post (March, 2016)

"Bernie Sanders Can't Win Without Party Elites" - Fortune (April, 2016)

"Is Trump the Last Gasp of Reagan's Party?" - The Monkey Cage at the Washington Post (May, 2016)

"The Possibility of a GOP Realignment" - Sides and Farrell, The Science of Trump (July, 2016)

"A Key Reason the Founders Wanted the Electoral College: To Keep Out Demagogues and Bullies" - The Monkey Cage at the Washington Post (December, 2016)

Dissertation Committee

John Zaller (chair), Scott James, Kathy Bawn, and Rachael Cobb (Suffolk University)

Research Interests

Presidents and Institutions
Interest Groups
Public Opinion and Voting Behavior
American Political Development
Campaigns and Elections

Forthcoming Book

First to the Party Book Prospectus

Teaching Interests

American Politics
Political Behavior
American Political Development
The American Presidency
Public Policy
Political Parties and Interest Groups

Statement of Teaching Philosophy

Course Syllabus

Sample Upper Division Seminar Syllabus


Chris Baylor
(cbaylor2 AT washcoll DOT edu)


(800) 422-1782

Chris Baylor, PhD, Department of Political Science, College of the Holy Cross