There is no other source that provides in one place the wide range and depth of insight found in Vital Statistics on American Politics (VSAP), published since 1988. VSAP provides historical and statistical information on all aspects of American politics: Political parties Voter turnout Public opinion Campaign finance Media perspective and influence, congressional membership and voting patterns The presidency and executive branch Military policy and spending Supreme Court and federal court make-up and caseloads Foreign, social, and economic policy In over 230 tables and figures, students and professional researchers will find chapters devoted to key subject areas such as elections and political parties, public opinion and voting, the media, the three branches of U.S. government, foreign, military, social and economic policy, and much more. This book provides a vivid and multifaceted portrait of the broad spectrum of United States politics and policies. Along with updated and new data content, this edition offers brand new data literacy lessons that take a “guide on the side” approach to teach data researchers how to wade through the sea of data and do the difficult work of grappling for the meaning of the data on their own. Lessons include understanding descriptive representation data, comparing data over time, noticing gaps in data, unpacking dichotomies of public opinion, and more.


  • Apportionment
  • Membership Characteristics
  • Committees
  • Bills and Laws
  • Voting Patterns
  • Current Members

While the U.S. Congress is fundamentally an “N” of 1, it offers far more data for all of us to examine than the small N would suggest. Any given Congress has 535 members, for whom we can find biographical information, as well as background on their districts, in lengthy treatments (see, for example, the Almanac of American Politics, published by the National Journal Group, which comes out every two years). Washington insiders often have these books on their shelves, and thumb through these biographies frequently. Among political science geeks, being able to know off the top of one’s head who represents the second congressional district of Nebraska provides immediate street cred.

Moreover, congressional elections are held every two years, ...

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