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The Logic of American Politics

The Logic of American Politics

Eleventh Edition

March 2023 | 816 pages | CQ Press
Why does the American political system work the way it does?

After observing the strains of intense partisanship and divided government, many Americans are wondering what logic, if any, can be found in politics. With both sides of the political spectrum being so different from one another and the scales often tipping in the favor of the opposing party by a fraction of a percentage point, how can anyone work the system to their advantage?

With fresh analysis of the 2022 midterm election results, the Eleventh Edition of bestselling textbook The Logic of American Politics provides students with the tools they need to make sense of our government today. Weaving together historical context, contemporary politics, and a "toolkit" of institutional design concepts, the authors build an understanding of political institutions and practices as imperfect solutions to collective action problems.
A Note to Students
Chapter 1. The Logic of American Politics
Part I. The Nationalization of Politics
Chapter 2. The Constitution
Chapter 3. Federalism
Chapter 4. Civil Rights
Chapter 5. Civil Liberties
Part II. The Institutions of Government
Chapter 6. Congress
Chapter 7. The Presidency
Chapter 8. The Bureaucracy
Chapter 9. The Federal Judiciary
Part III. The Public’s Influence on National Policy
Chapter 10. Public Opinion
Chapter 11. Voting, Campaigns, and Elections
Chapter 12. Political Parties
Chapter 13. Interest Groups
Chapter 14. Media
Part IV. Conclusion
Chapter 15. Is There a Logic to American Policy?
Reference Material
About the Authors


Instructor Resource Site
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“I have been using The Logic of American Politics for more than twenty years, and I cannot imagine using another text to teach my introductory class. By coming at the study of American government and politics through the lens of collective action, Kernell, Jacobson, Kousser, Vavreck, and Johnson provide students with a cognitive framework for thinking about deliberation, compromise, and consensus—all things that are essential to a healthy democracy but have recently been in short supply. The text’s emphasis on institutionalism likewise helps students to understand why even when a consensus emerges, political preferences might not be sufficient to result in political action.

My students come away from their reading armed with the information and critical analysis they need to be able to make informed judgments about their government and their own roles in it as citizens.”

Lauren C. Bell
Randolph-Macon College

The Logic of American Politics provides an edifying combination of social science concepts, political history, and clear connections to current events. It helps students understand everything from the country's founding to today's headlines."

John M. Sides
Vanderbilt University

The Logic of American Politics is comprehensive, captivating, and clear. It is the perfect book to help students learn about collective action and its role in shaping American government throughout the country’s history. It provides students with a common language and a set of tools for analyzing what is happening in the United States today. I especially appreciate how the book uses pictures, graphics, and tables to break down complex concepts, making the material more engaging and easier to understand. I strongly recommend this book!”

Christopher Ojeda
University of California Merced

Logic is an essential resource for teaching about US politics today, which often appears to have no logic to it.”

Jennifer Nicoll Victor
George Mason University

Logic engages students on multiple levels to provide an unrivaled textbook on American politics. Its narrative history teaches students the context and background necessary to appreciate the development and design of the constitutional system. Its analytic approach gives students social scientific tools to conceptualize the interactions of American political institutions, politicians, and citizens. And its timely updates to the text, case histories, and sidebars allow students to easily connect the timeless elements of the text to contemporary political controversies.

This is an exceptional combination for any student of American politics. I always select this book when teaching my courses.”

Seth Hill
University of California San Diego

"The Logic of American Politics is that rare introductory textbook that does not condescend to its readers. Rigorous and serious without being intimidating, the book provides students with both a solid empirical foundation for understanding the nuts and bolts of American government and politics as well as a supremely useful theoretical toolkit of core collective action concepts. Those concepts recur across the subject matter covered in the book and deepen students' understanding of the challenges - as well as the distinctive characteristics - of democratic self-government in America."

Sam Rosenfeld
Colgate University

"The Logic of American Politics is one of the most accessible introductory texts in the field. Employing “collective action” as its unifying theme, it makes it easy for students to identify how topics as disparate as Congress, the Presidency, the Civil Rights Movement, voting, and public opinion are connected to one another."

Johannes A.A.M. van Gorp
Santa Rosa Junior College, Petaluma

“I dislike most textbooks. They usually privilege factual knowledge over giving students the building blocks they need to evaluate inferences from evidence, which is what students need in upper division courses. When I teach American Government, I use The Logic of American Politics because it teaches students the logic collective action, which is not easy to understand. Even for instructors who are skeptical about the assumption of rationality, this is a great text because it gives the students what they need to be able to think for themselves about what rationality implies for human behavior and institutional governance – and what it does not.”

Vanessa Baird
University of Colorado - Boulder

The Logic of American Politics is the leading textbook in the field for many reasons: it provides comprehensive coverage in an analytically sophisticated and accessible way. Organized around critical collective action problems in politics and government, it is well written, acquaints students with relevant evidence and invites them into a critical mode of analysis of central questions about democratic governance. I’m a frequent and highly satisfied adopter!”

Walter J. Stone
University of California Davis

"The Logic of American Politics is a stellar textbook for introducing students to the fundamentals of American government. It draws on core ideas in political science to elucidate each important feature of the American political system. Students get a healthy dose of political history along the way from many compelling historical and contemporary examples. Kernell et al set the stage for students to engage with the political system constructively by showing that underneath all the sound and fury, our politics has a certain logic that can be understood."

Chris Tausanovitch
University of California Los Angeles