American Politics

American politics cannot be studied at UCSD in isolation from the work being done by comparativists, international relations specialists, and theorists. American specialists within the program attempt to facilitate discussions with others by embedding discussions of American institutions and practices into broad theoretical and comparative perspectives.

The faculty within the department include specialists on most aspects of American politics. Gary Jacobson is a widely recognized specialists on national institutions and the pre-eminent authority on congressional elections, Samuel Kernell focuses on presidential politics. and Samuel Popkin is a leading scholar on voting behavior, public opinion, and campaigning. Amy Bridges and Steve Erie provide the department with unusual strength in urban politics and the development of political institutions. James Fowler has already established a stellar reputation in the fields of social networks and political genetics, Zoli Hajnal, Tom Wong, and Marisa Abrajano are doing influential work on immigration, and Thad Kousser is part of a new generation of scholars that has re-energized the field of state politics. Seth Hill has published widely on polarization, participation, and candidate choice. A number of faculty members also have expertise in specific policy areas. For instance, Richard  Kronick specializes in health policy, and is currently serving in the Obama administration implementing health care reform.


In addition to the breadth of substantive specialities, the faculty also reflect a rich diversity of epistemologies and methodologies. Bridges and Erie are prominent scholars or American political development. Jacobson, Kernell and Popkin are among the leaders in the "new institutionalism," an influential methodological approach to political science that has yielded many important insights about the operation of America’s political institutions. Kousser’s work combines game theory, quantitative analysis, qualitative interviews, and natural experiments. James Fowler’s work on network analysis and genetics has been stretching research frontiers around the country.

Students in American politics are required to take the core course sequences in both principles and methods in addition to two core field seminars (see Field Requirements for more detail). The department offers graduate seminars on American topics such as American Political Behavior, American Political Development, Subnational Government, Racial Politics, Immigration, Jurisprudence, Advanced Statistical Methods, and Game Theory. Workshops in American Politics introduce students to new scholarship presented by faculty and visiting scholars and permit advanced graduate students to present their research.

Focus Areas in American Politics

  • American Institutions
  • American Political Development
  • Analytical Theory and Methods
  • Congress
  • Courts and Public Law
  • Elections, Voting, and the Media
  • Parties and Political Organizations
  • Race, Ethnicity, and Identity
  • Presidency and the Executive Branch
  • Urban Politics

American Politics Faculty

  • Marisa A. Abrajano, Associate  Professor.  PhD, NYU.  American politics, campaigns, Latino politics
  • Amy B. Bridges, Professor.  PhD, University of Chicago.  American politics, urban politics, American Political Development, state politics
  • Steven P. Erie, Professor; Director, Urban Studies Program.  PhD, University of California, Los Angeles.  American politics, urban politics
  • James H. Fowler, Professor, PhD, Harvard University.  American Politics, Methodology, Social Networks, Genetics
  • Zoltan L. Hajnal, Associate Professor.  PhD, University of Chicago.  American politics, ethnic politics, racial politics, urban politics, immigration politics, parties
  • Daniel C. Hallin, Adjunct Professor, Communications.  PhD, UC Berkeley.  Political Behavior, politics of mass communication
  • Seth Hill, Assistant Professor. PhD, UCLA. Politca behavior, polariation, political participation, candidate choice
  • Peter H. Irons, Emeritus Professor.  PhD, Boston University.  JD Harvard University.  Public law and politics
  • Gary C. Jacobson, Distinguished Professor.  PhD, Yale University.  American politics, Congress, elections
  • Samuel Kernell, Distinguished Professor. PhD, UC Berkeley.  American politics, presidency
  • Thaddeus B. Kousser, Associate Professor.  PhD, UC Berkeley. Legislatures and Legislative Elections, California Politics
  • Richard G. Kronick, Adjunct Professor, Family and Preventive Medicine.  PhD, University of Rochester.  Health policy
  • Sanford A. Lakoff, Emeritus Professor.  PhD, Harvard University.  Political thought, science and public policy
  • Samuel L. Popkin, Professor.  PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Voting Behavior, comparative politics
  • Tom Wong, Assistant Professor, PhD, UC Riverside. Immigration, public opinion, political institutions, Congress