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Comprehensive Examination

The American Politics Comprehensive Examination is adminstered twice a year, in May and in August. This written exam takes two Days for AP Majors and one day for Minors. Day 1 is geared to a broad appreciation of the political science literature in American Politics. All students preparing either Major or Minor examinations in American Politics should demonstrate detailed knowledge of the texts on the Day 1 Reading List, especially how authors have responded to similar problems and to each other. The Day 1 Reading List emphasizes American Politics scholarship in the areas of political behavior, institutions and political development. Many of the works cut across these areas.

Students taking Major exams in American Politics will also prepare a Day 2 Reading List in a specialized field in American Politics. Here, the goal is a demonstration of in-depth knowledge in specific areas. Students should consult faculty regarding their Day 2 Lists. Some examples of Day 2 Lists are available through the links to the left.

Day 1 Reading List

The ESSENTIAL CORE TEXTS are highest priority for all students. They are true, 20th century classics, widely appreciated as such by large majorities of our discipline. The AREA CORE TEXTS are very high priority for all students. For convenience only, they are divided into concentration areas; students should appreciate that there is sometimes substantial overlap across these areas. The concentration areas are listed to the left.

Essential Core Texts

  • Angus Campbell, Philip Converse, Warren Miller, and Donald Stokes, The American Voter. Especially Sections I, II, and III. (1960)
  • Anthony Downs, An Economic Theory of Democracy, chs. 1-8. (1957)
  • Philip Converse, "The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics," in David Apter, ed., Ideology and Discontent. (1964)
  • John Hart Ely, Democracy and Distrust. (1980)
  • Richard Neustadt, Presidential Power. (1980)
  • V.O. Key, Jr., The Responsible Electorate. (1966)
  • Theodore J. Lowi, The End of Liberalism. (1979)
  • David R. Mayhew, Congress: the Electoral Connection. (1974; second edition 2004)
  • Mancur Olson, The Logic of Collective Action. (1965)
  • E. E. Schattschneider, The Semisovereign People. (1960)
  • Theda Skocpol, Protecting Soldiers and Mothers. Introduction; Chs. 2, 5, 8-9. (1992)
  • John R. Zaller, The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. (1992)

American Political Thought

  • Hamilton, Madison and Jay. The Federalist Papers. 1, 9-10, 12, 14, 16, 23, 37, 39, 45-49, 51, 55, 63, 69, 72, 78, 84-85
  • Anti-Federalist writings from Cecilia Kenyon, ed., The Antifederalists. Address of the Minority of the Conventional of Philadelphia; Letters from the Federal Farmer, I-III; First speech of Patrick Henry to the Virginia Convention; Letters of Cato, IV-VII
  • Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America. Vol. 1, Author's intro, Part 1, Chs. 2-5 Part 2, Chs. 2, 7-10; Vol. 2 , Part 2, Chs. 1-2, 4-5, 7-14, 20. Part III, Chs 18, 21; Part IV, Chs. 3-4, 6-8.
  • Bruce Ackerman, We the People, vol. 1. (1991)
  • Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (1967)
  • Louis Hartz, The Liberal Tradition in America, Chs 1, 10-11
  • James Morone, The Democratic Wish. Intro., Chs. 1-4. (1990)
  • Rogers Smith, Civic Ideals. Chs 1, 5, 9-10, 12, Epilogue. (YEAR)
  • Judith Shklar, Redeeming American Political Thought. (1998)
  • Herbert Storing, What the Anti-Federalists Were For. (1981)
  • Wood, Gordon, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787. Chs. 1-3, 6-8, 12-13, 15. (1969)

American Political Development

  • Richard Bensel, The Political Economy of American Industrialization. Chs. 1, 5-8. (2001)
  • James Ceaser, Liberal Democracy and Political Science. Chapters 1, 5, 7. (1990)
  • Jacob Hacker, The Divided Welfare State. Part 1. (2002)
  • James Mahoney, "Path Dependence in Historical Sociology," Theory and Society 20: 507-548. (2000)
  • Karen Orren and Stephen Skowronek, The Search for American Political Development. (2004)
  • Paul Pierson, Politics in Time. 2004.
  • David Plotke, Building a Democratic Political Order. (1996), Ch. 11.
  • Eliabeth Sanders, The Roots of Reform. Chs. 1-4, 10-12. (1999)
  • James Savage, Balanced Budgets and American Politics. Chs. 1, 3-6. (1990)
  • Sven Steinmo, "American Exceptionalism Reconsidered," in Lawrence C. Dodd and Calvin Jillson, eds., The Dynamics of American Politics. (1994)
  • Stephen Skowronek, Building a New American State. (1982)

Bureaucracy and Agencies

  • Jonathan Bendor, Terry M. Moe, and Kenneth Shotts. "Recycling the Garbage Can: An Assessment of the Research Program." American Political Science Review 95:169-90. (2001)
  • Daniel P. Carpenter, The Forging of Bureaucratic Autonomy. Chaps. 1-2, 6-9. (2000)
  • Michael Cohen, James March, and Johan Olsen. "A Garbage Can Model of Individual Choice." Administrative Science Quarterly 17 (March):1-25. (1972)
  • John Ferejohn and Charles Shipan. "Congressional Influence on the Bureaucracy." Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization 6:1-21. 1990.
  • Herbert Kaufman, The Forest Ranger. (1960)
  • Samuel Kernell and Michael McDonald, "Congress and America's Political Development: The Transformation of the Post Office from Patronage to Service." American Journal of Political Science 43:792-811. (1999)
  • Charles Lindblom, "The Science of Muddling Through." Public Administration Review. (1959)
  • Mathew McCubbins and Thomas Schwartz. Congressional Oversight Overlooked: Police Patrol Versus Fire Alarm. American Journal of Political Science (1):165-77. (1984)
  • William Niskanen, Bureaucracy and Representative Government. (1971)
  • Barry Weingast and Mark J. Moran. "Bureaucratic Discretion or Congressional Control: Regulatory Policymaking by the Federal Trade Commission." Journal of Political Economy 91:765-800. (1983.)
  • James Q. Wilson, Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It. Chs. 7-9. (1989)

Congress

  • R. Douglas Arnold, The Logic of Congressional Action. Chs. 1-6, 8. (1990)
  • Sarah A. Binder, "The Dynamics of Legislative Gridlock, 1947-96," American Political Science Review 93, 519-33. (1999)
  • Gary W. Cox and Mathew D. McCubbins, Legislative Leviathan: Party Government in the House. Chs. 5, 7, 9. (1993)
  • Richard Fenno, Congressmen in Committees (1973), Chs. 3-4.
  • Tim Groseclose & David C. King, "Committee Theories Reconsidered," ch. 9 in Lawrence C. Dodd & Bruce I. Oppenheimer (eds.), Congress Reconsidered (7th ed., 2001).
  • Richard Hall and Frank Wayman,"Buying Time: Moneyed Interests and the Mobilization of Bias in Congressional Committees," American Political Science Review, 84: 797-820. (1990)
  • Gary C. Jacobson, The Politics of Congressional Elections, 6th Edition. (2003)
  • Keith Krehbiel, Pivotal Politics, chapters 1, 2, and concluding chapter. (1998)
  • David R. Mayhew, America's Congress: Actions in the Public Sphere, James Madison through Newt Gingrich. (2000)
  • Nelson W. Polsby, "The Institutionalization of the U.S. House of Representatives," The American Political Science Review, Vol. 62, No. 1, pp. 144-168. (1968)
  • David W. Rohde, Parties and Leaders in the Postreform House. Chs. 1, 2, 6. (1991)
  • Eric Schickler, Disjointed Pluralism: Institutional Innovation and the Development of the U.S. Congress. Chapters 1,2,5, and 6. (2001)

Courts and Judicial Politics

  • Lawrence Baum. The Puzzle of Judicial Behavior.
  • Gregory Caldeira and James Gibson. "The Etiology of Public Support for the Supreme Court."American Journal of Political Science 36(3): 635-664.
  • Bradley Canon and Charles Johnson. Judicial Policies: Implementation and Impact (2nd Ed.)
  • Lee Epstein and Jack Knight,The Choices Justices Make.
  • Marc Galanter,"Why the 'Haves' Come Out Ahead: Speculation on the Limits of Legal Change." Law and Society Review 9: 95-160. (1974)
  • Mark Graber, "The Nonmajoritarian Difficulty." Studies in Amer. Polit Dev. (1993)
  • Robert Kagan, "Adversarial Legalism" in The New Politics of Public Policy.
  • Shep Melnick, Between the Lines.
  • David O'Brien, Storm Center (7th Ed.)
  • Gerald Rosenberg,The Hollow Hope.
  • Jeffrey Segal and Harold Spaeth,The Supreme Court and the Attitudinal Model Revisited.
  • Keith E. Whittington,Constitutional Construction: Divided Powers and Constitutional Meaning.

Elections and Voting

  • Larry M. Bartels, Presidential Primaries and Dynamics of Public Choice. (1988)
  • Bernard Berelson, Paul Lazarsfeld, and William McPhee, Voting: A Study of Opinion Formation in a Presidential Campaign. (1954)
  • Michael Dawson, Behind the Mule. Chaps 1, 3-6. (1994)
  • Andrew Gelman and Gary King, "Why Are American Presidential Election Campaign Polls So Variable When Votes Are So Predictable?," BJPS. (1993)
  • Morris Fiorina, Retrospective Voting in American National Elections. Chapters 1, 2, 3, 10. (1981)
  • Gerald Kramer, "Short-Term Fluctuations in U.S. Voting Behavior, 1896-1964," APSR. (1971)
  • D. Roderick Kiewiet & Michael Udell, "Twenty-Five Years After Kramer: An Assessment of Economic Retrospective Voting Based upon Improved Estimates of Income and Unemployment," Economics and Politics 10, 218-48. (1998)
  • Donald R. Kinder and Roderick Kiewiet, "Sociotropic Politics: The American Case," British Journal of Political Science. (1981)
  • Warren Miller and J. Merrill Shanks, The New American Voter. Chaps 3-5, 17-18. (1996)
  • Raymond Wolfinger and Steven Rosenstone, Who Votes? Chs. 1, 4-6. (1980)

Federalism

  • Samuel H. Beer, "Federalism, Nationalism, and Democracy in America," APSR (1978)
  • ______, "The Modernization of American Federalism," Publius (1973)
  • John Chubb, "The Political Economy of American Federalism," APSR (1985)
  • Martha Derthick, Dilemmas of Scale, Chs. 1-6, 8.
  • ______, Keeping the Compound Republic. (2001)
  • Laurence O'Toole, ed. American Intergovernmental Relations
  • Paul E. Peterson, City Limits, chaps. 3 and 4
  • Paul Pierson, Dismantling the Welfare State (1994)
  • Paul Peterson, The Price of Federalism
  • David Truman, The Governmental Process (1951) Chs. 1-3.

Interest Groups and Policy Development

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Parties and Partisanship

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Political Participation

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Public Opinion

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Political Psychology

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Presidency

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Representation

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State and Local Government

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