Brian J. Gaines

Brian J. Gaines

Primary Affiliation: Equity, Justice, and Human Flourishing Working Group; COVID-19 Task Force

W. Russell Arrington Professor of State Politics, Department of Political Science, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences | University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


Anti-discrimination legislation
Spent a month in residence with the Utah legislature, helping Utah state lawmakers to pass anti-discrimination legislation that balances
religious liberty and LGBT rights. In 2019, Professor Wilson assisted the governor of Utah to craft regulations banning gay conversion therapy.
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Brian Gaines’  research deals with all aspects of elections, electoral rules, and public opinion. Some of his work has dealt with campaign-finance fraud, pros and cons of convenience voting, inference from survey experiments, and assessing bias in electoral maps, and has appeared in such outlets as the American Statistician, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Political Analysis, and State Politics and Policy Quarterly. He has published op-eds in many newspapers in Illinois, the San Jose Mercury News, and The Wall Street Journal. He follows politics in the United States, Canada, the UK, Germany, and, to a lesser extent, Europe and Australia. One of his major projects at present is a multi-nation study of public opinion about fairness in taxes.


Editor, American Politics Research, 2011-2015

Co-Editor (with Jake Bowers and Wendy Cho), The Political Methodologist, 2010-2013

Editor, UI Institute of Government & Public Affairs Policy Forum, 2006-08, 2009-11

Editorial Advisory Board, Canadian Journal of Political Science, 2007-2010

Editorial Board, American Politics Research, 2010-2011, 2015-Present

University of Illinois, Department of Political Science, Urbana-Champaign, IL. 

Professor, 2011 to Present. 

Associate Professor, 2001 – 2011.

Assistant Professor, 1995 – 2001. 

Institute of Government and Public Affairs, U of I System. 

Senior Scholar, 2020 to Present. 

Professor, 2011 – 2019. 

Associate Professor, 2003 – 2011.

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL. 

European Union Center, 2005 to Present. 

Merriam Professorial Scholar for the Cline Center for Democracy, 2012 – 2014. 

Hoover Institution.

Glenn Campbell and Rita Ricardo-Campbell National Fell & Arch W. Shaw National Fellow, 2011 – 2013. 

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. 

Visiting Scholar, Department of Management, Strategy, and Innovation, 2019. 

Visiting Scholar, Department of Applied Economics, 1997 & 1999. 

Fudan University, School of International Relations and Public Affairs, Shanghai, China. 

Guest Instructor, 2002. 

University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta; Shad Valley, 1984. 

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC; B.A. honors, 1988. 

Leland Stanford Junior University, Stanford, CA; A.M., 1989. 

Leland Stanford Junior University, Stanford, CA; Ph.D., 1995. 


Election Administration

Brian Gaines has been an expert witness and consultant on cases related to early voting and absentee ballots. With Barry Burden, Brian Gaines wrote a report on pros and cons of “convenience voting” (early, in-person, and absentee/mail) for the 2013 Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

Election Commentary

During election seasons, Brian Gaines writes periodic newspaper columns on debate tactics, polling results, election rules, and campaigns.

Engaging Students

Watching former students take off and soar is one of the true delights of being a professor, and there is no honor to compare to being acknowledged for the (small) part one played early in an exciting career.


Brian served on the Royal Commission for Electoral Boundaries under Judge Thomas Kemp Fisher in British Columbia. Much more recently, at the invitation of Champaign County Executive Darlene Kloeppel, he served on the Champaign County Redistricting Advisory Group, assisting with the re-drawing of local electoral boundaries. He has been an expert witness in multiple redistricting cases.

Running (but not for office)

Between 2005 and 2007, Brian Gaines completed marathons on all seven continents.

Voting for Poetry

At age 16, Brian Gaines was almost a prize-winning poet. A limerick that he wrote was chosen as one of ten finalists in a contest held by Softalk magazine. The winner was then selected by reader votes, and though he didn't win, Softalk identified his limerick as the one that should have won, based on having drawn more votes from more varied sources than any other. His was clearly the readers' choice, but, Softalk noted, Gaines isn't as skilled in the art of ballot-box stuffing. No wonder he developed an interest in voting and election administration.

Recent Publications

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