Professor Daniel A. Smith is Chair of the Department of Political Science. He is a University Term Professor (2016-2019) and a University of Florida Research Foundation Professor (2010-2012). He served as Director of the Political Campaigning Program at the University of Florida from 2007-2011. Professor Smith received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1994, and dual BAs (Phi Beta Kappa) in Political Science (Foreign Affairs) and History from Penn State University in 1988. He is also the President of ElectionSmith.
Professor Smith has mentored both graduate and undergraduate students at UF. Among his PhD advisees who have gone on to academic careers are Diana Cohen (Central Connecticut State University), William Hicks (Appalachian State University), Dustin Fridkin (Santa Fe College), Mitch Sellers (Tulane University), Brian Amos (Wichita State University), Lia Merivaki (Mississippi State University), and Enrijeta Shino (University of North Florida). His MA advisees are too numerous to county, but include top Republican, Democratic, and nonprofit campaigning professionals. He has supervised dozens of undergrad honors and Junior Fellows, as well as University and CLAS scholars. He has coauthored more than a dozen scholarly articles and book chapters with both his graduate and undergraduate students.
Professor Smith’s research is motivated by understanding how political institutions affect political behavior across and within the American states. Garnering more than 2,500 Google Scholar citations, Dr. Smith has published more than 100 scholarly articles, book chapters, and research reports on politics and elections in the American states, including in the discipline’s most esteemed journal, The American Political Science Review. His path-breaking book with Caroline J. Tolbert, Educated by Initiative: The Effects of Direct Democracy on Citizens and Political Organizations in the American States (University of Michigan Press, 2004), examines the “educative effects” of the institution of direct democracy on voter turnout, citizen engagement, and political efficacy, as well as the indirect impact citizen lawmaking has on interest groups and political parties. Smith’s first book, Tax Crusaders and the Politics of Direct Democracy (Routledge, 1998), investigated the financial backing and the populist-sounding rhetoric of three anti-tax ballot initiatives: Proposition 13 in California (1978), Proposition 2 1/2 in Massachusetts (1980), and Amendment 1 in Colorado (1992). He is also the coauthor, with Todd Donovan, Tracy Osborne, and Christopher Mooney of a widely-used textbook, State and Local Politics: Institutions and Reform (Cengage/Wadsworth, 2015), now in its 4th edition.
Among many other topics, Professor Smith has examined the effects of ballot measures, campaign financing, redistricting, and electoral laws on voting rights and political participation in the American states. He has written extensively on the history of the adoption of direct democracy in the American states, the campaign financing of ballot measure campaigns, and the impact of ballot measures on candidate elections. Currently, he is working on a series of articles with Dr. Michael C. Herron (Dartmouth College), examining how changes to election laws in the American states are influencing voter participation, as well as with Dr. Seth McKee and Dr. Will Hicks on the adoption of various election administration laws across the American states.
Professor Smith serves on the Board of Directors of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center Foundation (BISCF), a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, and is a member of the State Governing Board of Common Cause Florida.
Dr. Smith also has extensive international experience. In addition to giving invited talks in China, Croatia, Germany, Switzerland, and numerous African countries, he served as a Senior Fulbright Scholar at the University of Ghana in 2000-01 and a Research Associate at the Center for Democratic Development – Ghana in 2011. He has written widely on contemporary Ghanaian politics and democratic consolidation, focusing on issues of electoral irregularities and legislative apportionment and redistricting, and has served as a consultant for the National Democratic Institute (NDI). He was co-PI of a major US State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs grant that brought Francophone West Africans and American elected officials and voting rights experts together to better understand voting and the electoral process in Trans-Sahara Africa and the US.
A seasoned observer of ballot initiative and candidate campaigns around the country, as well as voting rights and redistricting in Florida, Professor Smith’s commentary has appeared in or has been heard on numerous news media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, BBC, National Public Radio, Voice of America, CNN, MSNBC, and ABC, CBS, Fox News, and NBC News.
Professor Smith has provided testimony to Congress, the state legislatures of Colorado and Florida, and the British House of Lords. He has advised numerous groups, including the US Chamber of Commerce and several US embassies and civic organizations in Africa, on voting and electoral practices in the American states. He has served as an expert witness in numerous legal cases dealing with ballot measures, campaign finance laws, redistricting, and voting rights, and was lead author of the “Direct Democracy Scholars” amicus brief in Doe v. Reed, which was successfully argued by the Attorney General of the state of Washington before the US Supreme Court in 2010.