Alex P. Smith

Alex is an Assistant Professor of Instruction in the University of Iowa Department of Political Science. He was previously a Teaching Assistant Professor at Oklahoma State University and received his Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Florida. Alex's primary field is American Institutions, with minor fields in Public Policy & Administration, and Political Theory. His research focuses on political negotiation, Congress, American Political Development, and policy change. In November 2023, the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress hosted an even where Alex discussed his research on legislative negotiation strategies used to overcome stalemate in Congress. 

Alex's research builds on William Riker's (1986) theory of heresthetic by highlighting the role strategic voting and dimension manipulation play in overcoming gridlock in Congress and other legislative bodies. Heresthetic provides a helpful lens into understanding what legislators do when they craft and deliberate policies, and why they adopt certain strategies. However, such strategies often come with trade-offs not addressed by Riker, as political feasibility is prioritized over policy efficiency and ideology. He was selected for a Library of Congress Fellowship in Congressional Policymaking to work on his book manuscript and also received a grant from the Dirksen Congressional Center. He has published articles in Public Choice and the Journal of Political Science Education.

Alex received his Ph.D. and Master's Degrees from UF and Bachelor's Degree from Wheaton College (IL). Before starting graduate school, Alex worked for five years in legislative politics: over a year in the District Office of former Congressman Peter J. Roskam (IL-06), and three and a half years at the Minnesota House of Representatives (including two years staffing the Ways and Means Committee). These experiences provided invaluable exposure to the inner workings of the legislative and executive branches of government at both the state and national levels and helped inspire his research interests.

When not researching or teaching politics, Alex enjoys watching the Chicago Cubs, Iowa wrestling, running, cooking (especially making barbecue on his smoker), and spending time with his family.