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The Logic of American Politics

The Logic of American Politics

Ninth Edition

March 2019 | 800 pages | CQ Press

Recipient of a 2021 McGuffey Longevity Award from the Textbook & Academic Authors Association (TAA)

Why does the American political system work the way it does? Find the answers in The Logic of American Politics. This best-selling text arms students with a toolkit of institutional design concepts—command, veto, agenda control, voting rules, and delegation—that help them recognize how the American political system was designed and why it works the way it does. The authors build students' critical thinking through a simple yet powerful idea: politics is about solving collective action problems.   

Thoroughly updated to account for the most recent events and data, the Ninth Edition explores the increase in political polarization, the growing emotional involvement people have to politics, Americans’ reactions to changing demographics, the partisan politics of judicial selection, and the changing nature of presidential leadership. Revised to include the 2018 election results and analysis, this edition provides students with the tools they need to make sense of today’s government.  

A Complete Teaching and Learning Package   

SAGE Premium Video
Included in the interactive eBook! SAGE Premium Video boosts comprehension and bolsters analysis— featuring animations of basic American government concepts and recent news clips connected to key topics in the book. Preview a video about voter turnout.   

Interactive eBook
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SAGE course outcomes: Measure Results, Track Success
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CQ Press Lecture Spark
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A Note to Students
Chapter 1 • The Logic of American Politics
The Importance of Institutional Design

Constitutions and Governments

Collective Action Problems

The Costs of Collective Action

Representative Government

The Work of Government

Collective Action and America’s Constitution

Nota Bene

Key Terms

Suggested Readings

Review Questions

Part I: The Nationalization of Politics
Chapter 2 • The Constitution
The Road to Independence

America’s First Constitution: The Articles of Confederation

Drafting a New Constitution

The Fight for Ratification

The Theory Underlying the Constitution

Designing Institutions for Collective Action: The Framers’ Tool Kit

Assessing the Constitution’s Performance in Today’s American Politics

Key Terms

Suggested Readings

Review Questions

Chapter 3 • Federalism
American-Style Federalism

Federalism and the Constitution

The Paths to Nationalization

Modern Federalism

Evolving Federalism: A By-Product of National Policy

Key Terms

Suggested Readings

Review Questions

Chapter 4 • Civil Rights
What Are Civil Rights?

The Civil Rights of African Americans

The Politics of Black Civil Rights

The Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement

Challenging Tyranny

Key Terms

Suggested Readings

Review Questions

Chapter 5 • Civil Liberties
Nationalization of Civil Liberties

Writing Rights and Liberties into the Constitution

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of the Press

Freedom of Religion

Gun Rights

Criminal Rights


Civil Liberties as Public Policy

Key Terms

Suggested Readings

Review Questions

Part II: The Institutions of Government
Chapter 6 • Congress
Congress in the Constitution

Congress and Electoral Politics

Who Serves in Congress?

Basic Problems of Legislative Organization

Organizing Congress

Making Laws

Evaluating Congress

Key Terms

Suggested Readings

Review Questions

Chapter 7 • The Presidency
The Historical Presidency

The Modern Presidency


Key Terms

Suggested Readings

Review Questions

Chapter 8 • The Bureaucracy
The Development of the Federal Bureaucracy

An Expanding Government

Bureaucracy in Action

Who Controls the Bureaucracy?

Bureaucratic Reform: A Hardy Perennial

Key Terms

Suggested Readings

Review Questions

Chapter 9 • The Federal Judiciary
Setting the Stage for Judicial Review

Three Eras of the Court’s Judicial Review

The Structure of the Federal Judiciary

Judicial Decision-Making

The Supreme Court’s Place in the Separation of Powers

Does a Politicized Judiciary Alter Separation of Powers?

Key Terms

Suggested Readings

Review Questions

Part III: The Public’s Influence on National Policy
Chapter 10 • Public Opinion
What Is Public Opinion?

Measuring Public Opinion

The Origins of Public Opinion

Is Public Opinion Meaningful?

The Content of Public Opinion

Effects of Background on Public Opinion

Public Opinion: A Vital Component of American Politics

Key Terms

Suggested Readings

Review Questions

Chapter 11 • Voting, Campaigns, and Elections
The Logic of Elections

The Right to Vote

Who Uses the Right to Vote?

Election Campaigns

The Logic of Elections Revisited

Key Terms

Suggested Readings

Review Questions

Chapter 12 • Political Parties
The Constitution’s Unwanted Offspring

Development and Evolution of the Party Systems

Revival of the Parties: A Sixth Party System?

Expediency Persists

Key Terms

Suggested Readings

Review Questions

Chapter 13 • Interest Groups
The Logic of Lobbying

The Origins of Interest Group Politics in the United States

Contemporary Interest Groups

What Do Interest Groups Do?

Interest Group Politics: Controversial and Thriving

Key Terms

Suggested Readings

Review Questions

Chapter 14 • Media
Development of the News Business

Legacy News as a Consumer Product: How the News Gets “Made”

Demand for and Effects of News

News Media as the “Fourth Branch”

Politician–Press Relations Then and Now

Key Terms

Suggested Readings

Review Questions

Part IV: Conclusion
Chapter 15 • Is There a Logic to American Policy?
Free Riding and Health Care

The Obstacles to Taking Domestic Action to Stop Global Climate Change

High-Stakes Maneuvering: Why We Tiptoe up to, but Have Not Fallen off, the Fiscal Cliff

The Prisoner’s Dilemma of Entitlement Reform

The Success and Failure of Collective Action: A Tale of Two Tax Reforms


Key Terms

Suggested Readings

Review Questions

Reference Material
About the Authors


Student Study Site  

SAGE edge for students enhances learning, is easy to use, and offers:    

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  • eFlashcards that strengthen understanding of key terms and concepts;        
  • quizzes that allow students to practice and assess how much they’ve learned and where they need to focus their attention;       
  • meaningful video and web links that facilitate student use of Internet resources, further exploration of topics, and responses to critical thinking questions.
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With SAGE coursepacks, you get: 

  • quality textbook content delivered directly into your LMS;     
  • an intuitive, simple format that makes it easy to integrate the material into your course with minimal effort;      
  • assessment tools that foster review, practice, and critical thinking, including:  
    • diagnostic chapter pre-tests and post-tests that identify opportunities for improvement, track student progress, and ensure mastery of key learning objectives
    • test banks built on Bloom’s Taxonomy that provide a diverse range of test items with ExamView test generation
    • a test bank grading rubric to support the grading of essay and short-answer questions
    • activity and quiz options that allow you to choose only the assignments and tests you want
    • instructions on how to use and integrate the comprehensive assessments and resources provided;
  • assignable data exercises in each chapter help students build essential data literacy skills using interactive data visualization tools from SAGE Stats and U.S. Political Stats. Drawing on key data series ranging from demographic patterns to state budgets to voting behavior, these exercises offer students a dynamic way to analyze real-world data and think critically the numbers.
  • assignable SAGE Premium Video (available via the interactive eBook version, linked through SAGE coursepacks) that is tied to learning objectives and curated exclusively for this text to bring concepts to life, featuring:
    • corresponding multimedia assessment options that automatically feed to your gradebook
    • comprehensive, downloadable, easy-to-use Media Guide in the coursepack for every video resource, listing the chapter to which the video content is tied, matching learning objective(s), a helpful description of the video content, and assessment questions
    • “Topics in American Government” videos that recap the fundamentals of American politics in every chapter—from the Bill of Rights to voter turnout to the powers of the presidency
    • News Clips from the Associated Press that bring extra coverage of current events into the book, connecting multiple, brief 2- to 4-minute news clips to core American government chapter content    
  • editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides that offer flexibility when creating multimedia lectures so you don’t have to start from scratch;       
  • sample course syllabi with suggested models for structuring your course that give you options to customize your course to your exact needs;      
  • an instructor manual for each chapter, including a chapter summary, learning objectives, discussion questions and ideas, and in-class activities, to support your teaching;       
  • integrated links to the interactive eBook that make it easy for students to maximize their study time with this anywhere, anytime mobile-friendly version of the text. It also offers access to more digital tools and resources, including SAGE Premium Video; and     
  • all tables and figures from the textbook; 
  • and ?writing activities ?that prompt students to reflect on their own experiences and think about the chapter topic. 

“An excellent textbook that has a unique approach and covers the American Politics in greater depth than other textbooks.”

Michelle Belco
The Honors College-University of Houston

“This text provides a concise framework beginning with the concept of collective action that facilitates student understanding of political development and processes in a meaningful way.”

Laura Mayate-DeAndreis
Modesto Junior College

“It’s the perfect textbook for our needs – emphasis on institutions, with a great mix of primary documents, history, and political theory. It covers all the bases – in a way that is effective for student learning (and it is fun to teach)."

Tracy F. Munsil
Arizona Christian University

The Logic of American Politics uses rational choice theory to provide a theoretical basis for the study of American government.  It is very good for showing students what political scientist do, and why government acts like it does."

Carl Snook
Kennesaw State University, School of Government and International Affairs

“It is introductory American Politics textbook covering all the main issues in American Politics. It has a good layout that can keep the student interest without getting gimmicky."

Roberta Adams
Salisbury University
Key features


  • Up-to-date 2018 midterm election coverage and analysis, particularly in the chapters on Congress, the presidency, and political parties, provide students with a current snapshot of the results and an overview of the bipartisan battle for Senate.
  • A current assessment of the constitution’s performance in today’s American politics encourages students to discuss controversies and uncertainties around the Constitution's allocation of authority and to think critically about the importance of separating powers.  
  • Discussions of recent judicial selections illustrates to students how partisan politics and ideology can have implications on the behavior of judges.  
  • An examination of President Trump’s leadership style provides students with insights on how his presidency differs from past presidencies and encourages students to reconsider the nature of presidential leadership.      



  • Chapter-opening vignettes draw in students while effectively pointing to a chapter’s main themes.
  • Blue text is used to highlight passages that apply collective action and institutional design themes to help reinforce analytic points.
  • A set of feature boxes strengthens the book’s analytic approach:
    • Logic of Politics boxes examine the design of various political institutions in light of the objectives they were intended to achieve.
    • Strategy and Choice boxes show how officeholders and those seeking to influence them employ institutions to advance their goals.
    • Politics to Policy boxes highlight how public policies reflect the institutions that produce them and evaluate institutional capacity to solve the nation’s problems.
  • The concluding chapter on policymaking examines the noticeable logic that guides American policy. Students glean insights into the sources of policy problems, identify possible solutions, and realize why agreement on those solutions is often so hard to achieve.
  • Robust pedagogical features strengthen the text’s analytical approach: boxed features, maps, tables, and figures make for a rich experience as students learn to analyze data; new learning objectives provide measurable takeaways; and more than 200 carefully chosen photographs bring historical and contemporary details to life.
  • Assignable SAGE Premium Video (available via the interactive eBook version, linked through SAGE coursepacks) that is tied to learning objectives and curated and produced exclusively for this text bring concepts to life and appeal to different learning styles.
  • Assignable Data Exercises help students build essential data literacy skills using interactive data visualization tools from SAGE Stats and U.S. Political Stats.
  • SAGE coursepacks allows instructors to import high-quality content into their school’s learning management system (LMS) with no access codes.
  • SAGE edge provides students helpful tools, including eFlashcards, practice quizzes, and more, in one easy-to-use online environment.

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