The United States elect members of the House of Representative from single-member districts: the candidate who receives the most votes from each geographically defined district wins a seat in the House. This system-so long in place that it seems perfectly natural-is, however, unusual. Most countries use proportional representation to elect their legislatures. Electing the House is the first book-length study to explore how the US came to adopt the single-member district system, how it solidified into a seemingly permanent fixture of American government and whether it performs well by the standards it was intended to achieve.
Locating the development of single-member district system within the context of American political thought, Dow's study clarifies the workings and the significance of a critical electoral process in our time. In the process, the book informs and enhances our understanding of the evolution of the American political system.
Jay K. Dow is professor of political science at the University of Missouri, Columbia. His research on electoral politics has appeared in publications including the British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Electoral Studies, Public Choice, and Political Behavior.