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Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies

American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies (CCPS) serves scholars, students, policymakers and the public by propelling actionable research, providing public education and promoting a more reasonable democratic square.

James A. Thurber Dialogues on American Democracy

January 29, February 24 and March 24, 2021 | 6 p.m. ET
Via Zoom

­To celebrate the illustrious career of Distinguished University Professor James A. Thurber, American University will host the James A. Thurber Dialogues on American Democracy. In these public conversations, Professor Thurber will partner with leading experts/authorities on democratic vitality to examine the grave dangers that threaten the American Experiment, and to examine the precarious-yet-possible pathways to achieving a “more perfect union.”

The first conversation on Friday, January 29 will feature U.S. Senator Cory Booker, who is also the author of United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good.

The second conversation in this series on Wednesday, February 24 will feature Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist, Historian, author of Twilight of Democracy and GULAG: A History.

The third and final conversation on Wednesday, March 24 will feature Robert Putnam (renowned political scientist, author of The Upswing and Bowling Alone)and Shaylyn Romney Garrett (co-author with Robert Putnam of The Upswing).

This event series is sponsored by American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, the Kennedy Political Union, and the United States Capitol Historical Society.

RSVP today for one or all of the Dialogues here. 
Zoom link will be sent the day of the event.

Black Swing Voter Study

In American politics, “swing voters” are usually defined as white, working class voters in the Midwest and Rust Belt. By contrast, African Americans are treated as a monolithic constituency that the Democratic Party has “captured.” The Black Swing Voter Study (BSVS) aims to counter this narrative by shining new light on African Americans’ role as decisive “swing voters”—swinging from the Democrats to not voting, and therefore swinging the outcome of elections just as much as those white working class voters do. The BSVS pairs representative surveys with extended focus groups of battle-state Americans—especially those 18-30—to highlight the diversity of views within this community, catch trends, call out myths, and generally underscore the important role that this constituency plays in American politics. Learn more. Read topline results.

View the American University Black Swing Voter Study Summary report here.

African American "Swing" Voters: 2020 and Beyond

The Sine Institute of Policy & PoliticsCCPS would like to extend its gratitude for the support of our partners at the Sine Institute of Policy & Politics led by Executive Director Amy K. Dacey. We are greatly appreciative of the work in helping to make the Black Swing Voter Project a success and look forward to a continued partnership.

The Principal Investigators of the BSVS are:

David C. Barker, Professor of Government and Director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies
Leonard Steinhorn, Professor of Communication and Affiliate Professor of History, CBS News political analyst
Sam Fulwood, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and Faculty Fellow at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies

Other BSVS Research Associates include:

Jan Leighley, Professor, School of Public Affairs
Ray Block, Penn State University
Amy Dacey, Executive Director, Sine Institute of Policy & Politics
Marcus Johnson, AU Phd student in Government

Correspondence of Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore Project

This project will locate and publish letters, from 1844–53, of the twelfth and thirteenth U.S. presidents.
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2019-2020 Understanding Legislative Negotiation Grant Recipients

We are pleased to announce the winners of our 2019-2020 Understanding Legislative Negotiation grants.

2019 Gill Family Foundation Scholarship

Simon Heuberger Headshot.CCPS is pleased to announce that Simon Heuberger is the recipient of this year's award. Learn more about Simon.

Professor James A. Thurber testifies before Congress

Read Prof. Thurber’s testimony on the topic of unauthorized appropriations.

American University Launches Program on Legislative Negotiation

Launch Event for Program on Legislative Negotiation The Program on Legislative Negotiation addresses the gridlock in Congress and in state legislatures.
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Read the program's latest Request for Proposals: Understanding Legislative Negotiation Research Grants.

David Barker on One Nation, Two Realities

CCPS Director David Barker talked about his book, One Nation, Two Realities: Dueling Facts in American Democracy, and the current political stalemate between Congress and the White House.

Madison Prize Honors Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray

Vicky Wilkins, Sen. Lamar Alexander, and David ScaggsU.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) have been named as the inaugural recipients of the Madison Prize for Constitutional Excellence by American University School of Public Affairs. The new award recognizes lawmakers who strive for legislative compromise in the same spirit outlined by James Madison in Federalist 10. In an era of extreme polarization in American politics, the Madison Prize is an effort to draw attention to legislators who work across the aisle to resolve difficult issues.
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Congress & the Presidency Journal

Congress and the Presidency: A Journal of Capital StudiesThis publication is an interdisciplinary journal of political science and history, published by American University, Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies since 1984. The journal is now being published three times a year. Congress & the Presidency features articles on Congress, the President, the interaction between the two institutions, and national policy-making.
View latest articles


Donald Trump's Re-election Prospects

Read Professor John E. Owens’ newest article “Donald Trump’s Re-election Prospects” in the September 2020 issue of Political Insight where he examines polling data that shows the odds stacked against a Trump victory.

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David Barker

Research ·

Research Traces the Roots of Conservative and Liberal Thinking

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Campaign banner for Whig Party candidates in the national election of 1848, promoting Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore

Research ·

Grants Will Support Publication of Presidential Letters of Taylor and Fillmore

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European Public Affairs & Advocacy Institute students

European Public Affairs & Advocacy Institute

This unique course will introduce students to the art and craft of lobbying in the European Union.

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political signs

American University Magazine American

My Favorites: Rising Political Stars

Top 10 up-and-coming politicians

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Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute

Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute

The Institute features a two-week intensive course in major aspects of lobbying and political influence.

More about PAAI

James Thurber, middle, sits in the Campaign Management Institute classroom.

A Winning Strategy

The Campaign Management Institute has become an internationally recognized curriculum in the art and science of campaigning.

More about CMI

CCPS Video & Audio Clips

  • Setting Limits on Presidential Power Under the Trump Administration

    Watch the video

  • The Transition and the First 100 Days of the Trump Presidency

    Watch the video

Thurber Scholarship Endowment students

Thurber Scholarship Endowment

The James and Claudia Thurber Scholarship Endowment, established by former AU students and colleagues.

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