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James Thurber

Distinguished Professor Department of Government

James A. Thurber is University Distinguished Professor of Government and Founder (1979) and Founder and Former Director (1979-2016) of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies ( and Affiliate Distinguished Profess of Public Administration and Policy at American University, Washington, D.C.

He is author of numerous books and more than eighty articles and chapters on Congress, interest groups and lobbying, and campaigns and elections. His book American Gridlock: The Sources, Character and Impact of Political Polarization (with Antoine Yoshinaka) was published Cambridge University Press in November 2015. He is an author or editor of Rivals for Power: Presidential-Congressional Relations (2013, 5th Ed.), Campaigns and Elections, American Style (with Candice Nelson, 2013, 5th Ed.), Obama in Office (2011), Congress and the Internet (with Colton Campbell, 2002), The Battle for Congress: Consultants, Candidates, and Voters (2001), Crowded Airwaves: Campaign Advertising in Elections (with Nelson and David A. Dulio, 2000), Campaign Warriors: Political Consultants in Elections (2000), Remaking Congress: The Politics of Congressional Stability and Change (with Roger Davidson, 1995), Divided Democracy: Cooperation and Conflict Between Presidents and Congress (1991), and Setting Course: A Congressional Management Guide (with Chaleff, Loomis, Light, and Serota, first three editions starting in 1988, 1990, and 1992).

Dr. Thurber earned a BS in political science from the University of Oregon and Ph.D. in political science from Indiana University and was an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow in 1973-74.


PhD Indiana University
MA Indiana University
BA University of Oregon

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SPA - Government
Ward - 112
Contact Info
(202) 885-6247

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For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Selected Publications

  • The Contemporary Presidency: Changing the Way Washington Works?  Assessing President Obama’s Battle with Lobbyists,” Presidential Studies  Quarterly, 41, no. 2 (June), 2011, pp. 358-374
  • Obama in Office (Paradigm Publishers, 2010)(Editor).
  • Campaigns and Elections: American Style (Editor with Candice Nelson) (Westview Press, 3rd Edition, 2010).
  • Rivals for Power: Presidential-Congressional Relations (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 4th edition, 2009)(Editor).
  • Campaign Warriors: Political Consultants in Elections (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2000) (Editor with Candice Nelson).
  • Improving How Washington Works (Washington, DC: CED, July 2008).
  • The Battle for Congress: Candidates, Consultants and Voters, (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution Press, 2001) (Editor).
  • Congress and the Internet (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 2003) (Editor with Colton Campbell).


AU Expert

Area of Expertise: American government and politics,  lobbying reforms and ethics, campaigns and elections, Congress, presidency, presidential-congressional relations, congressional reform and ethics, federal budget process and deficit, interest groups, voting behavior, campaign management

Additional Information: James A. Thurber is director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies and editor of Congress and the Presidency. He is a former congressional committee staff member and legislative assistant to the late senator Hubert H. Humphrey (D-Minn.), Rep. David Obey (D-Wisc.), Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.) and others. Thurber has written more than 80 articles and chapters on presidential-congressional relations, campaigns and elections, the congressional budget process, congressional reform, lobbying reform, and civilian nuclear waste policy. His latest books include Obama in Office; Rivals for Power: Congressional-Presidential Relations (4th edition); The Battle for Congress: Consultants, Candidates and Voters; Remaking Congress (with Roger Davidson); and Congress and the Internet. He coauthored-edited Campaign Warriors: The Role of Political Consultants in U.S. Elections and Crowded Airways: Campaign Advertising in Elections. Thurber is editor and contributing author of Divided Democracy: Cooperation and Conflict between the President and Congress, and coeditor (with AU professor Candice Nelson) of Campaigns and Elections American Style (3rd edition). He directed Improving Campaign Conduct, a seven-year research grant sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts.  He is regularly quoted by major media outlets, including the Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today, Financial Times and Congressional Quarterly and National Public Radio, NewsHour, NBC's Today Show, MSNBC, CNN, C-SPAN, and others.

Media Relations
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