You are here

The Sage website, including online ordering services, will be unavailable due to system maintenance on June 14th from 6:00pm -12 midnight PDT. If you need assistance, please contact Sage at 
Thank you for your patience and we apologize for the inconvenience.
Principles and Practice of American Politics

Principles and Practice of American Politics
Classic and Contemporary Readings

Eighth Edition
Edited by:

September 2024 | 664 pages | CQ Press
Combining timeless readings with cutting-edge, current selections, Principles and Practice of American Politics effectively animates today's institutions and political arrangements in the study of American Government and politics. Each selection is artfully framed by contextual headnotes, and many of the readings are written specifically for the volume.

The Eighth Edition includes readings that present institutions of majority rule, the nature of racial discrimination, the proper role of the court, and other issues that provide students an opportunity to think through and discuss their views on the future direction of American civic life.

About The Editors
Chapter 1. Designing Institutions
Mancur Olson Jr.
1-1 From The Logic of Collective Action
Elinor Ostrom
1-2 Governing the Commons
Jane Mansbridge
1-3 What is Political Science For?
Chapter 2. The Constitutional Framework
James Madison
2-1 Federalist No. 10
James Madison
2-2 Federalist No. 51
Samuel Kernell
2-3 “The True Principles of Republican Government”: Reassessing James Madison’s Political Science
Chapter 3. Federalism
Donald F. Kettl
3-1 Federalism: Sorting Out Who Does What
Thad Kousser
3-2 How America’s “Devolution Revolution” Reshaped Its Federalism
Chapter 4. Civil Rights
Supreme Court of the United States
4-1 Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896)
Supreme Court of the United States
4-2 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)
Supreme Court of the United States
4-3 Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978)
Supreme Court of the United States
4-4 Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, 600 U.S. 181 (2023)
Weaver and Prowse
4-5 Racial Authoritarianism in U.S. Democracy
Chapter 5. Civil Liberties
Geoffrey R. Stone
5-1 Free Speech and National Security
Supreme Court of the United States
5-2 Roe v. Wade (1973)
Supreme Court of the United States
5-3 Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization (2022)
Gerald N. Rosenberg
5-4 The Real World of Constitutional Rights: The Supreme Court and the Implementation of the Abortion Decisions
Chapter 6. Congress
Sarah A. Binder
6-1 Legislating in Polarized Times
Frances E. Lee
6-2 Insecure Majorities: Congress and the Perpetual Campaign
Steven S. Smith
6-3 Beneath the Surface: Partisanship, Bipartisanship, and Committee Activity
Steven S. Smith
6-4 Disrupted: The Appropriations Process, Partisan Polarization, and Partisanship
Steven S. Smith
6-5 Diversifying: Gender, Race, and Congressional Representation
Steven S. Smith
6-6 Why 435? Reapportionment and the Size of the House
Chapter 7. The Presidency
Richard E. Neustadt
7-1 From Presidential Power
Samuel Kernell
7-2 From Going Public
William Howell
7-3 Power without Persuasion
Chapter 8. The Bureaucracy
James Q. Wilson
8-1 The Rise of the Bureaucratic State
Mathew D. McCubbins and Thomas Schwartz
8-2 Congressional Oversight Overlooked: Police Patrols versus Fire Alarms
Chapter 9. The Judiciary
Antonin Scalia
9-1 From A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law
Stephen Breyer
9-2 From Active Liberty
Alexander Hamilton
9-3 Federalist No. 78
Tracey George and Lee Epstein
9.4 On the Nature of Supreme Court Decision Making
Chapter 10. Public Opinion
Herbert Asher
10-1 Analyzing and Interpreting Polls
Alan I. Abramowitz
10-2 The Polarized Electorate
John Zaller
10-3 The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion
Joe Goldman, Lee Drutman, and Oscar Pocasangre
10-4 Democracy Hypocrisy: Examining America’s Fragile Democratic Convictions
Chapter 11. Voting, Campaigns, and Elections
Pew Research Center
11-1 Voter turnout, 2018-2022
Gary C. Jacobson
11-2 No Compromise: The Electoral Origins of Legislative Gridlock
Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels
11-3 Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government
Richard Hasen
11-4 Election Reform: Past, Present, and Future
Chapter 12. Political Parties
John H. Aldrich
12-1 From Why Parties?
Lee Drutman
12-2 Doom-Loop Partisanship
Lilliana Mason
12-3 Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity
Chapter 13. Interest Groups
Richard L. Hall and Alan V. Deardorff
13-1 Lobbying as Legislative Subsidy
Lee Drutman
13-2 The Growth of Corporate Lobbying
Benjamin Page and Martin Gilens
13-3 Democracy in America?
Chapter 14. News Media
Hunt Allcott and Matthew Gentzkow
14-1 Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election
Andrew M. Guess
14-2 (Almost) Everything in Moderation: New Evidence on Americans' Online Media Diets
Daniel J. Moskowitz
14-3 Local News, Information, and the Nationalization of U.S. Elections
U.S. Constitution
Appendix: Constitution of the United States

"Principles and Practice of American Politics is a well-balanced reader covering all the major topics of an American Government course."

Blake Jones
Ohio Valley University
Key features


  • Twenty-eight new and updated essays encourage students to reflect on the continuing debates in American Politics. This new edition includes the most widely read chapter from Governing the Commons, by Elinor “Lin” Ostrom, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, Supreme Court opinions on abortion, school desegregation, free speech and national security, and diversity in universities, a set of short essays on today’s Congress, and new readings on political identities, bureaucracy, interest groups, the media, and election reform.


  • Chapters follow a consistent organization by introducing readers to the interests, rules, and strategic contexts of a reading’s political action in a major national political forum.
  • Each selection is artfully framed by contextual headnotes to make them appropriate for classroom use.
  • Original readings written specifically for the volume give the book a coherent treatment of the performance of U.S. political institutions.
  • Readings can serve as a supplement or standalone text. For instructors using this text as a supplement, the collection of selected readings will animate the institutional processes described in your core text. For instructors using this text as the core reading material for the course, the collection of selected readings can stand alone and do not assume more than an elementary knowledge of American government and politics.

Sage College Publishing

You can purchase this book and request an instructor sample on our US College site:

Go To College Site