Frances Lee


Frances E. Lee has been a member of the Maryland faculty since 2004. She teaches courses in American government, the public policy process, legislative politics, and political institutions. Her research interests focus on American governing institutions, especially the U.S. Congress.

She is co-editor of Legislative Studies Quarterly, a scholarly journal specializing in legislatures. 

She is author of  Insecure Majorities: Congress and the Perpetual Campaign (University of Chicago Press, 2016), Beyond Ideology: Politics, Principles and Partisanship in the U.S. Senate (University of Chicago Press, 2009) and coauthor of Sizing Up The Senate: The Unequal Consequences of Equal Representation (University of Chicago Press 1999). She is coauthor of a comprehensive textbook on the U.S. Congress, Congress and Its Members (Sage / CQ Press). Her research has also appeared in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, and Legislative Studies Quarterly.

Her work has received national recognition, including the American Political Science Association's Richard F. Fenno Award for the best book on legislative politics in 2009, the D. B. Hardeman Award presented by the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation for the best book on a congressional topic in both 1999 and 2009, and the APSA's E. E. Schattschneider Award for the best dissertation in American Politics in 1997.

She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Vanderbilt University in 1997.  She was a Research Fellow at the Brookings Institution from 1997-98. From 1998-2003 she taught in the political science department at Case Western Reserve University. In 2002-2003, she worked on Capitol Hill as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow.

To watch an interview with Lee about her book Beyond Ideology on C-SPAN's Book TV, click here.

To watch Ezra Klein's interview with Lee about presidential leadership of Congress on, click here


Areas of Interest:
  • Congress, American political institutions, policymaking


Distinguished Scholar-Teacher, University of Maryland, 2016-17.

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, University of Maryland, Excellence in Mentorship Award, 2015.

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, University of Maryland, Excellence in Teaching Award, 2007.


Courses taught:

Graduate Seminar on American Political Institutions

Graduate Seminar on the American Congress

Introduction to American Politics

The American Congress

American Public Policy Process

Seminar on Political Ambition

Political Science Research Methods

Nonprofit Public Policy and Advocacy

Course Name Course Title Semester Syllabus
GVPT473 The U.S. Congress Spring 2017 Syllabus


Lee, Frances E. 2016. Insecure Majorities: Congress and the Perpetual Campaign. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lee, Frances E. 2009. Beyond Ideology: Politics, Principles, and Partisanship in the U.S. SenateChicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lee, Frances E. and Bruce I. Oppenheimer. 1999. Sizing Up The Senate: The Unequal Consequences of Equal Representation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Schickler, Eric and Frances E. Lee, eds. 2011. The Oxford Handbook of the American Congress. New York: Oxford University Press. Selected by Choice, the American Library Association’s reviews publication, as one of its top 25 outstanding academic titles for 2012.


Davidson, Roger H., Walter J. Oleszek, Frances E. Lee and Eric Schickler. 2017. Congress and Its Members. 16th Edition. Washington, DC: Sage / CQ Press.  Prior editions: 14th edition in 2014; 15th edition in 2016.

Davidson, Roger H., Walter J. Oleszek, and Frances E. Lee. 2012. Congress and Its Members. 13th Edition. Washington, DC: CQ Press.  Prior editions:  12th edition in 2010; 11th edition in 2008.


Lee, Frances E. 2016. "Patronage, Logrolls, and 'Polarization': Congressional Parties of the Gilded Age, 1876-1896. Studies in American Political Development. June. 

Hinchliffe, Kelsey L., and Frances E. Lee. 2016. "Party Competition and Conflict in State Legislatures," State Politics and Policy Quarterly 16: 172-197.

Lee, Frances E. 2015. “How Party Polarization Affects Governance,” Annual Review of Political Science 18 (June), 15.1-15.22.

Gimpel, James G., Frances E. Lee and Michael Parrott. 2014. “Business Interests and the Party Coalitions: Industry Sector Contributions to U.S. Congressional Campaigns,” American Politics Research 42(6): 1034-1076.

Lee, Frances E. 2013. “Presidents and Party Teams: The Politics of Debt Limits and Executive Oversight, 2001-2013,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 43 (4): 775-791.

Gimpel, James G., Frances E. Lee and Rebecca U. Thorpe. 2012. “Georgraphic Distribution of the Federal Stimulus,” Political Science Quarterly 127 (4): 567-596.

Bramlett, Brittany, James G. Gimpel, and Frances E. Lee. 2011. “The Political Ecology of Opinion in Big-Donor Neighborhoods,” Political Behavior 33 (December): 565-600.

Gimpel, James G., Frances E. Lee and Rebecca U. Thorpe. 2011. “The Wellsprings of Candidate Emergence: Geographic Origins of Statewide Candidacies in the United States.” Political Geography 30 (January): 25-37.

Lee, Frances E. 2008. “Dividers, Not Uniters: Presidential Leadership and Senate Partisanship, 1981-2004.” Journal of Politics 70 (October): 914-928.

James G. Gimpel, Frances E. Lee, and Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz. 2008. “The Check is in the Mail: Interdistrict Funding Flows in U.S. House Elections,” American Journal of Political Science 52 (April): 373-394.

Lee, Frances E. 2008. “Agreeing to Disagree: Agenda Content and Senate Partisanship, 1981-2004.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 33 (May): 199-222.

Gimpel, James G., Frances E. Lee, and Joshua Kaminski. 2006. “The Political Geography of Campaign Contributions.” Journal of Politics 68 (August): 626-639.

Lee, Frances E. 2004. “Bicameral Institutions and Geographic Politics:  Allocating Federal Funds for Transportation in the House and Senate,” Legislative Studies Quarterly 24 (May): 185-214.

Lee, Frances E. 2003. “Geographic Politics in the U.S. House of Representatives:  Coalition Building and Distribution of Benefits,” American Journal of Political Science 47 (November): 713-727.

Lee, Frances E. 2000. "Senate Representation and Coalition Building in Distributive Politics," American Political Science Review 94 (March): 59-72.

Lee, Frances E. 1998. “Representation and Public Policy:  The Consequences of Senate Apportionment for the Geographic Distribution of Federal Funds,” Journal of Politics 60 (February): 34-62.

Lee, Frances E. and Bruce I. Oppenheimer. 1997. “Senate Apportionment:  Competitiveness and Partisan Advantage,” Legislative Studies Quarterly 22 (February): 3-24.

Lee, Emery G. III, Frances Sandstrum [later Lee], and Thomas C. Weisert. 1996. “Context and the Court:  Sources of Civil Liberties on the Rehnquist Court,” American Politics Quarterly 24 (July): 377-395.


Lee, Frances E. 2016. "Legislative Parties in an Era of Alternating Majorities." Governing in a Polarized Age: Elections, Parties, and Political Representation in America, eds., Alan Gerber and Eric Schickler (New York: Cambridge University Press), 115-142.

Binder, Sarah. A. and Frances E. Lee. 2016. "Making Deals in Congress," Political Negotiation: A Handbook, eds., Jane Mansbridge and Cathie Jo Martin (Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press), 91-120.

Binder, Sarah A. and Frances E. Lee. 2015. “Making Deals in Congress,” Solutions to Political Polarization in America, ed., Nathaniel Persily (New York: Cambridge University Press), 240-261.

Lee, Frances E. 2015. “American Politics is More Competitive Than Ever, and That is Making Partisanship Worse,” Political Polarization in American Politics, eds. Daniel J. Hopkins and John Sides (New York: Bloomsbury), 76-79.

Lee, Frances E. 2014. “Parties as Coordinators: Can Parties Unite What the Constitution Divides?” Guide to U.S. Political Parties, ed. Marjorie R. Hershey (Washington, DC: CQ Press / Sage), 40-54.

Lee, Frances E. 2014. “The Challenge of Bipartisanship: A Historical Perspective,” Working Congress: A Guide for Representatives, Senators, and Citizens, ed., Robert Mann (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press), 40-54.

Binder, Sarah A. and Frances E. Lee. 2013. “Making Deals in Congress,” Negotiating Agreement in Politics, Task Force Report, eds. Jane Mansbridge and Cathie Jo Martin (Washington, DC: American Political Science Association), 54-72.

Lee, Frances E. 2012. “Individual and Partisan Activism on the Senate Floor,” The U.S. Senate: From Deliberation to Dysfunction: The U.S. Senate, 1960-2010, ed. Burdett A. Loomis (Washington, DC: CQ Press), 110-131.

Lee, Frances E. 2012. “The Individual and the Team in the United States Senate.” Extensions: A Journal of the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center (Winter): 16-20.

Lee, Frances E. 2011. “Making Laws and Making Points: Senate Governance in an Era of Uncertain Majorities.” The Forum 9 (4): Article 3.

Lee, Frances E. 2011. “Bicameral Representation” The Oxford Handbook of the American Congress (New York: Oxford University Press), 272-292.

Lee, Frances E. 2010. “Senate Deliberation and the Future of Congressional Power.” P.S.: Political Science and Politics 73 (April): 227-229.

Lee, Frances E. 2009. “Senate Representation and Coalition Building in Distributive Politics,” American Political Science Review, March 2000. Anthologized in The American Congress Reader, eds., Steven S. Smith, Jason M. Roberts, Ryan J. Vander Wielen (New York: Cambridge University Press), 141-151.

Lee, Frances E. 2007. “Geographic Representation and the U.S. Congress.” Maryland Law Review 67 (1): 51-61.

Gimpel, James G. and Frances E. Lee. 2006. “The Geography of Electioneering: Campaigning for Votes and Campaigning for Money” in The Marketplace of Democracy, eds. Michael P. McDonald and John Samples (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution and Cato Institute), 125-148.

Lee, Frances E. 2005. “Interests, Constituencies and Policymaking.” In Institutions of American Democracy: The Legislative Branch, eds. Paul J. Quirk and Sarah A. Binder (New York: Oxford University Press), 281-313.

Lee, Frances E. 2002. “Representational Power and Distributive Politics:  Senate Influence on Federal Transportation Spending.”  In Senate Exceptionalism, ed. Bruce I. Oppenheimer (Ohio State University Press), 283-301.

Editorial Boards

Co-editor, Legislative Studies Quarterly (2014- present)

Editorial Board, American Journal of Political Science (2014-present)

Editorial Board, American Politics Research (2007-present)

Editorial Board, Congress & the Presidency (2007-present)

Editorial Board, Journal of Politics (2007- 2009, 2013-2015)

Editorial Board, Legislative Studies Quarterly (2005- 2010)


Professional Service (current and recent only)

Chair, Publications Policy Committee, Executive Council, American Political Science Association, 2016.

Executive Council, American Political Science Association, 2014-2016.

Member, Samuel Eldersveld Career Achievement Award Committee, American Political Science Association Section on Political Parties and Interest Groups, 2014-15.

Chair, Malcolm Jewell Award Committee for Outstanding Graduate Student Paper, 2014.

Member, U.S. Subcommittee, APSA Task Force on “Getting to Yes” in Politics, 2012-2013

Division Co-Chair, responsible for organizing the legislative studies panels, Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, 2013.

Chair, Pat Fett Award Committee, for the best paper on the scientific study of Congress and the Presidency at the 2012 annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association.

Member, Pi Sigma Alpha Award Committee, for the best paper presented at the 2012 annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association.

President, National Capital Area Political Science Association, 2011-2012


University Service (current and recent only)


Executive Committee, 2015-18

Chair, American Politics Faculty Search, 2014

Chair, Senior American Politics Faculty Search, 2013-2014

Director, Government and Politics Honors Program, 2010-2014


Member, Appointment, Promotion and Tenure Committee, Fall 2010-Spring 2012


Chair, Campus-wide Promotion Committee, 2016

Member, Campus-wide Appointment, Promotion and Tenure Committee, Fall 2013-

Member, The Graduate School's Flagship Fellowship Committee, Spring 2016

Current Students
Former Students
  • James M. Curry
    Political Science Department, University of Utah
  • Rebecca U. Thorpe
    Department of Political Science, University of Washington
  • Michael Parrott
    APSA Congressional Fellow 2016-17
Related Students (Listed by Student on Student's Profile)
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