You are here

Political Behavior of the American Electorate

Political Behavior of the American Electorate

13th Edition

© 2015 | 336 pages | CQ Press
The 2012 elections took place in a time of intense party polarization and a weak economy, yet the incumbent president won reelection. How did Obama pull off his victory? New authors Elizabeth Theiss-Morse and Michael Wagner continue the tradition of Flanigan and Zingale by using American National Election Study data to provide a thorough analysis of the 2012 elections and of American political behavior more generally. The authors explore get-out-the-vote efforts and the reasons people voted the way they did, as well as the nature and impact of partisanship, issues, and news media coverage in 2012—all with an eye toward understanding the trends that led up to the election.
Tables and Figures
1. Democratic Beliefs and American Democracy
2. Electoral Context and Strategy
3. Turnout and Elections
4. Partisanship and Party Change
5. Public Opinion and Ideology.
6. Group Characteristics and Social Networks
7. Political Communication and the Mass Media
8. Vote Choice and Electoral Decisions
Appendix: Survey Research Methods


Instructor Resource Site
Available for instructors is a password-protected resource site featuring graphics from the book.

“I like how Political Behavior of the American Electorate explains historical data on the role of partisanship, issues, and other candidate characteristics in voting behavior. The themes that I emphasize and for which the data and discussion in the book are useful include public opinion and democratic competence as well as partisan conflict and polarization.”

Robert Y. Shapiro
Columbia University

“From my course evaluations, students laud the readability of the text and how it cogently and succinctly summarizes what can be very intricate research findings from the extant literature. In addition, my students indicate that the text is very engaging. I have noted independently of student comments that they are better able to comprehend the course material as a result of the authors’ writing style.”

J. Edwin Benton, University of South Florida
J. Edwin Benton, University of South Florida

“The coverage in this book is outstanding. The suffrage and turnout chapter, in particular, is fantastic. The book speaks so well to the issues I want to cover that I would be hard-pressed to do without it when teaching political behavior. The authors have done a tremendous job of incorporating relevant literature, from both the past and present.”

Christopher Devine
Mount Vernon Nazarene University
Key features


  • Greater emphasis on research from political psychology to augment the discussion of historical trends, particularly in the chapters on voter turnout and political communication.
  • By combining two partisanship chapters, the authors make room for a new chapter on electoral context and strategy.
  • The chapter on social characteristics draws on recent research on social networks and social identity to examine how social groups affect electoral politics.


  • The book’s updated tables and figures available electronically and free to adopters
  • A focus on new elements in American politics (such as the rise of social networking in politics) and how these developments might challenge traditional explanations of political behavior
  • In-depth understanding of the 2012 elections drawing on the most up-to-date research from political science and political psychology
  • Emphasis on trend data to help students put the 2012 elections into perspective

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 3

Chapter 5

Preview this book

For instructors

Review and Desk copies for this title are available digitally via VitalSource.

Request e-review copy

If you require a print review copy, please call: (800) 818-7243 ext. 6140 or email

Select a Purchasing Option

Electronic version
Prices from
*180 day rental