News Hartwick College Alumni and Student Help Political Science Expert Publish Latest Book

August 2, 2021

Hartwick College alumni and a current student played major roles in helping a nationally renowned political science scholar publish her latest book—the most recent example of how the College’s new approach to education, FlightPath, incorporates real-world work experiences and alumni connections into each student’s journey.

Hartwick College Professor of Political Science Dr. Laurel Elder published her newest work last week, “The Partisan Gap – Why Democratic Women Get Elected But Republican Women Don’t” (NYU Press). The book looks at the imbalance of elected women in political office from the two major U.S. parties in which Democratic women far outnumber Republican women.

Elder “examines why a disparity in women’s representation exists, and why it’s only going to get worse,” according to NYU Press. “Drawing on interviews with female office-holders, candidates, and committee members, she takes a look at what it is like to be a woman in each party. From party culture and ideology to candidate recruitment and the makeup of regional biases, Elder shows the factors contributing to this harmful partisan gap, and what can be done to address it in the future.”

“The driving argument of the book,” Elder says, “is that structural changes in American electoral politics—the ideological, regional, and racial realignment of the two major parties in the United States– have had significant but largely overlooked consequences for women in elective office, driving the dramatic partisan gap we see today with Democratic women forming more than 70 percent of the women in Congress.” Elder notes that “Understanding the dynamics behind the partisan gap is important because women will only achieve parity in elective office if both Democratic women and Republican women increase their representation.”

Elder credits the book’s success to a Faculty Research Grant that allowed her to travel to Washington DC to conduct interviews and, most importantly, FlightPath opportunities that brought students and alumni into her research. In the preface of her book, Elder thanks her former student Abby Meltzer ’20, who served as her research assistant during the summer of 2019, which was crucial to the timely completion of the book and the high quality of the data in the empirical chapters. A FlightPath intern, Roxanne Mitchell ’21, helped prepare the final manuscript for publication, which allowed her to develop and hone skills that will help her as she pursues her graduate degree, a master’s degree in public administration (MPA). Hartwick student Lia Porpeglia ’22 updated Elder’s research on women’s representation through the most recent elections. Sharpening her research skills—collecting empirical data, building data sets, and placing empirical findings in the context of academic literature—provided a new perspective for the Hartwick senior. Porpeglia says, “This new awareness and further understanding of the United States’ democracy will aid me in all future endeavors, including graduate school or running for an elected office someday.”

Elder also praises Hartwick alumnus Jon Taets ’02, who served as Legislative Director for a member of Congress for drawing “on his expansive Capitol Hill network to help me set up interviews with party officials, members of Congress and their staffs, and leaders among those seeking to recruit women candidates.” Years after taking her Political Parties and Elections class, Elder says that Taets became her “teacher and guide as he showed me around the real world of party politics on Capitol Hill.”

Elder has published extensively on issues including the politics of parenthood and the family, public opinion towards candidate spouses, and women’s representation. Her research has been covered in national news publications including The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Huffington Post,, and

She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Colgate University in 1994, and her Ph.D. in 1999 from Ohio State University. In addition to teaching a wide arrange of courses in American Politics, she is a member of the Executive Committee for the National Political Science Honor Society, Pi Sigma Alpha. She has advised Hartwick’s chapter of the Political Science Honor Society for 22 years, winning six national best chapter awards for programming geared to help Hartwick students become more informed and engaged citizens.

She is also the co-author of “The Politics of Parenthood: Causes and Consequences of the Politicization and Polarization of the American Family” (SUNY Press, 2012), and “American Presidential Candidate Spouses: The Public’s Perspective and The Politics of Parenthood: Causes and Consequences of the Politicization and Polarization of the American Family” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).

“The Partisan Gap – Why Democratic Women Get Elected But Republican Women Don’t” is available through the publisher,, and Barnes & Noble. It is also available as an audio book.

For more information on the book, contact Elder at 607-431-4887 or