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The Logic of American Politics

The Logic of American Politics

Ninth Edition
Additional resources:

March 2019 | 800 pages | CQ Press

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
Includes access to SAGE Premium Video, multimedia tools, and much more! Save when you bundle the interactive eBook with the new edition. Order using bundle ISBN 978-1-5443-6664-7. Learn more.  

SAGE coursepacks
FREE! Easily import our quality instructor and student resources content into your school’s learning management system (LMS) and save time. Learn more.  

SAGE edge
FREE online resources for students to make learning easier. See how your students benefit.  

SAGE course outcomes: Measure Results, Track Success
Outlined in your text and mapped to chapter learning objectives, SAGE course outcomes are crafted with specific course outcomes in mind and are vetted by advisors in the field. See how SAGE course outcomes tie in with this book’s chapter-level objectives at  

CQ Press Lecture Spark
Designed to save you time and ignite student engagement, these free weekly lecture launchers focus on current event topics tied to key concepts in American government. Access this week’s topic.

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:    

  • an open-access site that makes it easy for students to maximize their study time, anywhere, anytime;       
  • 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.
Instructor Resources Site

Instructors: SAGE coursepacks and SAGE edge online resources are included FREE with this text. For a brief demo, contact your sales representative today.  

SAGE coursepacks for instructors makes it easy to import our quality content into your school’s learning management system (LMS)*. Intuitive and simple to use, it allows you to  

Say NO to…   

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Say YES to…

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  • high-quality assessment and multimedia exercises     

*For use in: Blackboard, Canvas, Brightspace by Desire2Learn (D2L), and Moodle 

Don’t use an LMS platform? No problem, you can still access many of the online resources for your text via SAGE edge

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

“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.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 7: The Presidency

Chapter 11: Voting, Campaigns, and Elections

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