Charles Stewart III

FACULTY  |  Charles Stewart III

Charles Stewart III is the Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science at MIT, where he has taught since 1985, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His research and teaching areas include congressional politics, elections, and American political development.

His current research about Congress touches on the historical development of committees, origins of partisan polarization, and Senate elections. His recent books of congressional research include Electing the Senate (2014, with Wendy J. Schiller), Fighting for the Speakership (2012, with Jeffery A. Jenkins), and Analyzing Congress (2nd ed., 2011).

Since 2001, Professor Stewart has been a member of the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project, a leading research efforts that applies scientific analysis to questions about election technology, election administration, and election reform. He is currently the MIT director of the project. Professor Stewart is an established leader in the analysis of the performance of election systems and the quantitative assessment of election performance. Working with the Pew Charitable Trusts, he helped with the development of Pew’s Elections Performance Index. Professor Stewart also provided advice to the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. His research on measuring the performance of elections and polling place operations is funded by Pew, the Democracy Fund, and the Hewlett Foundation. He recently published The Measure of American Elections (2014, with Barry C. Burden).

Professor Stewart has been recognized at MIT for his undergraduate teaching, being named to the second class of MacVicar Fellows in 1994, awarded the Baker Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, and the recipient of the Class of 1960 Fellowship. Since 1992, he has served as Housemaster of McCormick Hall, along with his spouse, Kathryn M. Hess.

Professor Stewart received his B.A. in political science from Emory University, and S.M. and Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Research

Fighting for the Speakership explores the development of the formal structure of political parties in Congress through the politics of electing Speakers of the House from 1789 to the present. This joint project with Jeffrey A. Jenkins (Virginia) combines historical narrative with modern analytical theory and statistical methods to explain how the House evolved from a series of ad hoc organizational arrangements to a resilient regime of legislative organization focused on party caucuses.

Senate elections before 1914 is a joint project with Wendy Schiller (Brown) to document and explain the election of U.S. senators before the passage of the 17th amendment. This NSF-funded project involves uncovering data about these elections through the examination of state legislative journals and primary historical sources. The project combines historical narrative with statistical analysis of election dynamics.

Measuring the performance of American elections is a project to assess the quality of elections through the development of metrics that describe how well American states perform all the functions that go into running elections well, ranging from registering voters to counting votes. This project involves collaborations with many scholars and institutions, particularly at Harvard, Caltech, and the Pew Center on the States Election Initiatives program.

Recent Publications

Electing the Senate, with Wendy J. Schiller. (Princeton University Press, 2014).

The Measure of American Elections, with Barry C. Burden, eds. (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

Fighting for the Speakership, with Jeffrey A. Jenkins. (Princeton University Press, 2012).

Analyzing Congress, W.W. Norton, 2nd edition. (W. W. Norton & Company, 2011)

Committees in the U.S. Congress, with Garrison Nelson. (CQ Press, 2010).

Subjects

17.202 Graduate Seminar in American Politics II (OCW)
17.251 Introduction to Congressional Politics (OCW)
17.261 Congress and the American Political System II (OCW)
17.307 Policy Seminar for Washington Interns
17.871 Political Science Laboratory (OCW)