Margit Tavits

Dr. William Taussig Professor in Arts and Sciences*
Chair,  Department of Political Science

I specialize in comparative politics, with regional expertise in Europe (both east and west), and my research interests are relatively broad: I have studied various issues related to political parties, political institutions, corruption, post-communist politics, and gender equality. While I continue to be interested in these topics, my ongoing research extends the list even further and considers the effects of wartime violence on post-war politics, inter-ethnic cooperation, and women’s representation. Some of my most exciting new research ventures into an uncharted territory in political science: I explore how the language we speak affects how we think about politically relevant issues such as gender and LGBTQ equality, environmental policy, and ethnic divisions.

I founded, for many years organized, and remain extremely proud of the Comparative Politics Annual Conference (CPAC) at WashU — an annual workshop on a cutting-edge topic that brings together leading scholars across the discipline. It’s been around in its current format since 2013 and is now a staple of the departmental intellectual life. I am also a co-director (with Marc Debus and Zeynep Somer-Topcu) of the Comparative Campaign Dynamics Dataset, funded by the German Science Foundation.

I’m the author of four books and more than 55 peer-reviewed articles. My first book, Presidents with Prime Minsters (Oxford University Press) continues to be cited in policy debates on whether to implement direct presidential elections in parliamentary systems. My second book, Post-Communist Democracies and Party Organization (Cambridge University Press) was foundational in drawing scholars’ and practitioners’ attention to organizational strength as a key to helping parties survive and stabilize in new democracies. My third book, Clarity of Responsibility, Accountability, and Corruption (co-authored with Leslie Schwindt-Bayer from Rice University and published by Cambridge University Press) documents the institutional configurations that make it easier for voters to hold corrupt officials accountable, and has been endorsed by leading experts on corruption and electoral politics. My fourth book, Voicing Politics, is co-authored with Efrén Pérez (UCLA) and published with Princeton University Press. It presents exciting new research on how the language we speak affects political attitudes.

My articles have been published in leading journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, and many others. My work has so far collected more than 6300 citations, my current h-index is 38, and, in case you are curious, my Erdős number is 3 (Erdős -> Tovey -> Schofield -> Tavits).

My research has been supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the German National Science Foundation, the Weidenbaum Center, Center for the New Institutional Social Sciences, and other sources. I have held the Andrew Mellon Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, the Nuffield College Post-Doctoral Prize Fellowship, and been nominated for the Andrew Carnegie Fellowship.

I love working with students and have coauthored 18 peer-reviewed articles with them, many in top journals. I have chaired 11 dissertation committees and served on more than dozen others. My students have built remarkably successful careers inside and outside of academia. In 2016, I was nominated by ten students, each of whom wrote a separate nomination letter, for Graduate Student Senate’s Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award. This number of written endorsements was apparently unprecedented and this nomination remains my most treasured accomplishment.

I also value disciplinary service and have served as a field editor for the Journal of Politics, am a member of the editorial boards of several top journals, and have received multiple awards for reviewing. I have also been the vice chair of the APSA Comparative Democratization section and chaired or served on a number of different (award) committees and review panels of APSA, MPSA, NSF, and other organizations.

* This professorship was established in recognition of Dr. William Taussig, who was born in Prague in 1826 and came to St. Louis in the mid-1840’s. Dr. Taussig attended medical school at Washington University and received an honorary law degree from the university in 1905. In addition to his other credentials, Dr. Taussig was presiding justice of the St. Louis County Court during the Civil War. Prior to being awarded to me, the Dr. William Taussig Professorship was held by Norman Schofield — an intellectual giant and a colorful personality. The history of this professorship makes me particularly proud and honored to hold it.


Margit Tavits

Office: Seigle 207C

Washington University
CB 1063
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

Department of Political Science