Analyzing American Democracy

Politics and Political Science

By Jon R. Bond, Kevin B. Smith

© 2013 – Routledge

730 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415810517
pub: 2013-05-13
Hardback: 9781138127432
pub: 2015-09-29

Look Inside Comp Exam Copy Companion Website

About the Book

Analyzing American Democracy teaches students to think analytically by presenting current political science theories and research in answering the engaging, big questions facing American politics today. It serves as both an introduction to American politics and to the discipline of political science by reflecting the theoretical developments and empirical inquiry conducted by researchers. Every chapter highlights the most current research and discusses related public policy. It demonstrates for students how to think critically and analytically, bringing theoretical insight to contemporary American politics.

More than just a comprehensive overview and description of how American politics works, Jon Bond and Kevin Smith demonstrate how politics can be studied systematically. Throughout the text, they introduce students to the insights gleaned from rational choice, behavioral, and biological approaches to politics. Understanding these three social scientific models and their applications helps students get the most out of their American government course and out of this text--they learn a way of thinking that they can use to make sense of future challenges facing the American polity.

A number of features help aid comprehension and critical thinking:

  • Key Questions at the start of every chapter frame the learning objectives and concepts
  • Politics in Practice boxes in every chapter encourage students to think critically about how practice compares with theory
  • Tables, Figures, Charts, and Maps throughout present the empirical details of American politics, helping students gain quantitative literacy
  • Top Ten Takeaway Points at the end of every chapter recap the most important points covered but also help students discern the general principles that make sense of the numerous factual details
  • Key Terms are bolded in the text, defined in the margins, recapped at the end of the chapter, and compiled in a glossary, all to help insure that students can effortlessly master the vocabulary of American politics and political science in order to move on to the more important concepts.


"Bond and Smith’s Analyzing American Democracy is the most novel and refreshing text I have seen in decades. Students and indeed all citizens need to recognize that, for better or worse, American politics is conducted by living, breathing, biased, biological organisms and Analyzing American Democracy is the only text to address the implications of these simple realities."

—John R. Hibbing, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

"Nobody does a better job than Bond and Smith of integrating modern political science with a thoroughly up-to-date introduction to American government. Most of my students have already been exposed to an AP-style high school American government survey, and a text that is clearly more science than civics is exactly what they need at the college level. On top of that the writing has the wit, snap, and drive that keeps students reading and thinking in spite of themselves."

—John R. Alford, Rice University

"Analyzing American Democracy is by far one of the best American Government books on the market. Not only is it comprehensive in covering material across the vast spectrum of American politics, but it also has an interesting point of view: the idea that our expectations of government and its performance may not be entirely realistic. Bond and Smith have written a book that is accessible to undergraduate students, yet provides sufficient detail for professors to examine the nuances of American politics today."

—Richard W. Waterman, University of Kentucky

"Teaching a broad survey course that covers the breadth of American politics can be a daunting task for both instructors and students. Bond and Smith have organized what could be an overwhelming amount of information into a logical structure coupled with a straight-forward, journalistic writing style that incorporates cutting-edge political science research with key political concepts. The result is a textbook that is truly an introduction to political science, not just civics or popular politics."

—Amanda Friesen, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

"The Bond and Smith text demonstrates how political science research can inform our understanding of all aspects of American government, from basic democratic values to patterns in political participation to institutional design. It continues to be the most thought provoking and comprehensive American Government textbook on the market."

—Christopher W. Larimer, University of Northern Iowa

"Bond and Smith utilize contrasting theories, historical narrative, and current scientific research to illustrate the central tensions that characterize modern American government. This emphasis on compelling questions and great narratives makes the text genuinely fun to read."

—Douglas R. Oxley, University of Wyoming

Table of Contents

1. The Basics of Democracy. Part I: The Constitutional Framework. 2. The American Constitution 3. Federalism 4. Civil Liberties 5. Civil Rights Part II: Connecting Citizens to Government 6. Interest Groups 7. Political Parties 8. The Mass Media and Politics 9. Public Opinion and Political Socialization 10. Elections 11. Political Participation and Voting Behavior Part III: Official Decision Making 12. Congress 13. The Presidency 14. The Bureaucracy 15. The Federal Judiciary Part IV: Conclusion 16. Core Democratic Principles and Public Policy

About the Authors

Jon R. Bond received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is currently a professor of political science at Texas A&M University. His research analyzes the policy making process and the operation of democracy in American politics. Specifically, he is interested in the interactions of American political institutions, especially Congress and the presidency, and how electoral motivations affect democratic responsiveness in American political institutions. He has published more than three-dozen chapters and journal articles on presidential-congressional relations, congressional elections, and public policy. He served as president of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society from 2006-2008, and president of the Southern Political Science Association, the oldest regional political science association from 2006-2007.

Kevin Smith received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is currently a professor of political science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he is also co-director of the UNL Political Science Physiology Lab. His primary research focus is on the biology of political attitudes and behavior. Smith is the recipient of his university’s College of Arts & Sciences Outstanding Research and Creative Achievement Award.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / National
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / General