New Directions in Congressional Politics  book cover
2nd Edition

New Directions in Congressional Politics

ISBN 9780367466541
Published April 14, 2020 by Routledge
354 Pages 54 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

As the U.S. Congress has steadily evolved since the Founding of our nation, so too has our understanding of the institution. The second edition of New Directions in Congressional Politics offers an accessible overview of the current developments in our understanding of America’s legislative branch. Jamie L. Carson and Michael S. Lynch help students bridge the gap between roles, rules, and outcomes by focusing on a variety of thematic issues: the importance of electoral considerations, legislators’ strategic behavior to accomplish objectives, the unique challenges of Congress as a bicameral institution in a polarized environment, and the often-overlooked policy outputs of the institution.

This book brings together leading scholars of Congress to provide a general overview of the entire field. Each chapter covers the cutting-edge developments on its respective topic. As the political institution responsible for enacting laws, the American public regularly looks to the U.S. Congress to address the important issues of the day. The contributors in this volume help explain why staying atop the research trends helps us better understand these issues in the ever-changing field of American politics.

New to the Second Edition

  • New and updated chapters highlighting party recruitment, redistricting, women in Congress, the nationalization of Congressional elections, and the reassertion of Congressional oversight.
  • A first look at Congressional-executive relations in the Trump era.
  • Updated data through the 2018 Midterm elections.

Table of Contents


Part I: Politics and Elections 

1. Congressional Elections: Electoral Structure and Political Representation 

2. Making the Right Bet: The Long-term Consequences of Successful Party Recruitment 

3. Recent Developments in Congressional Redistricting 

4. Women in Congress 

5. Congress and the Nationalization of Congressional Elections 

Part II: Institutions 

6. Parties and Polarization in Congress 

7. Change and Continuity for Committees in Congress 

8. The Erosion of "Regular Order" in the U.S. House: A Historical Examination of Special Rules 

9. The U.S. Senate: Chamber at a Crossroads 

10. The Challenges of Partisan Conflict for Lawmaking in Congress 

Part III: Policy Process 

11. Congress and the Executive in the Age of Trump 

12. New Directions in Congressional Politics Research on Judicial Selection 

13. The "Flip-Side" of Delegation: Examining Congressional Reassertion Efforts 

14. Historical Lessons from the Study of Congress 

15. Congressional Reform: Lessons of the Past for Today’s Reform Efforts

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Jamie L. Carson is the UGA Athletic Association Professor of Public and International Affairs II in the Department of Political Science at the University of Georgia. His research interests include the U.S. Congress, congressional elections, separation of powers, and American political development. Recent books include Electoral Incentives in Congress (with Joel Sievert), The Politics of Congressional Elections, 10th edition (with Gary Jacobson), and Change and Continuity in the 2016 and 2018 Elections (with John Aldrich, Brad Gomez, and David Rohde).

Michael S. Lynch is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Georgia, where his research focuses on legislative rules and procedure as well as interbranch conflict. He is currently working on a book project (with Anthony Madonna) that explores when Congress decides to record their votes and what this means for the link between constituents and their representatives.


Praise for New Directions in Congressional Politics

"This is a book that lives up to its title. Many edited collections merely involve summaries of other scholars' research, but this one offers original work and new perspectives on a wide range of topics, from historical analysis to the most contemporary congressional context. New Directions in Congressional Politics will be useful to undergraduate students and professional researchers alike."

David W. Rohde, Duke University

"New Directions in Congressional Politics is a fine new collection of essays, many by leading younger congressional scholars, that collectively provide a thorough and accessible account of what political scientists know about the House and Senate."

Gary Jacobson, University of California San Diego

"New Directions in Congressional Politics is an impressive volume, offering a superb lineup of congressional experts who have been central to building the corpus of scholarship on the U.S. Congress. By highlighting both past scholarship and potential future directions for research, New Directions will be a valuable and accessible resource for students and faculty for years to come."

Sarah Binder, Brookings Institution and George Washington University

"This innovative volume reviews the current state of research on the United States Congress. Readers will find the essays an invaluable source of information for better understanding both chambers of Congress as well as examinations of the role of Congress in the American policymaking process."

John David Rausch, Jr., West Texas A&M University

"New Directions in Congressional Politics is an outstanding collection of original essays by leading scholars of congressional politics. This is a book all students of Congress and of American politics should read."

Walter J. Stone, University of California Davis

"With its rich theoretical and empirical insight, New Directions in Congressional Politics is an enjoyable ‘must-read’ for students of Congress. This unusually comprehensive volume brings together experts who share their wisdom, systematic evidence, and some illuminating anecdotes to trace important developments in congressional scholarship and the changing dynamics in congressional politics. Readers will gain a deep appreciation for Congress’ electoral and historical foundations, institutional dynamics in and between the two chambers, policymaking, and the significance of the president, courts, and interest groups. I look forward to assigning it in class."

Kathryn Pearson, University of Minnesota

"Carson has brought together an excellent collection of scholars who have nicely combined their own research with other new research in describing the modern Congress. This book could be used as either a good primary text or an excellent supplemental text for classes on the U.S. Congress."

Sean Theriault, The University of Texas at Austin

"For a comprehensive study of what is known about Congress, and what should be explored more, readers need go no further than this excellent addition to understanding legislative politics in the US. Summing up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above."

J. Michael Bitzer, CHOICE (March 2012)