Back to top

James Thurber Distinguished Professor Department of Government

Degrees
PhD Indiana University MA Indiana University BA University of Oregon

Bio
James A. Thurber 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 (american.edu/spa/ccps) and Affiliate Distinguished Professor 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. James A. Thurber is University Distinguished Professor of Government and Founder (1979) and Former Director (1979-2016) of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies (american.edu/spa/ccps) and Affiliate Distinguished Professor of Public Administration and Policy at American University, Washington, D.C. He is author or editor of numerous books and more than 90 articles and chapters on Congress, the U.S. presidency, interest groups and lobbying, and campaigns and elections. His four most recent books are: Campaigns and Elections, American Style (with Candice J. Nelson, 5th Ed., 2018), Congress and Diaspora Politics: The Influence of Ethnic and Foreign Lobbying (with Colton C. Campbell and David A. Dulio, 2018), American Gridlock: The Sources, Character and Impact of Political Polarization (with Antoine Yoshinaka, 2015) and Rivals for Power: Presidential-Congressional Relations (2017, 6th Ed.) (with Jordan Tama). He is also an author or editor of 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 1988, 1990, and 1992). During his tenure at American, Dr. Thurber served as the principle investigator of a seven-year study of campaign conduct supported by a Pew Charitable Trusts grant and as principle investigator of a four-year study analyzing lobbying and ethics for the Committee for Economic Development, and is currently working on international lobbying and ethics reform with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. He founded the biannual Campaign Management Institute, the Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute, and annual European Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute in Brussels. He was worked for several members of the U.S. Congress on congressional reorganization, ethics, and lobbying reform since 1976. Dr. Thurber was honored as the American University Scholar/Teacher of the Year in 1996 and received the 2010 Walter Beach Pi Sigma Alpha American Political Science Association award for his work combining applied and academic research. He is also a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, and a member of the American Bar Association’s Task Force on Lobbying Law Reform. Dr. Thurber was an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow in 1973-74 and is currently on its Executive Board. He was awarded the Senator Mark O. Hatfield Annual Award for Applied Public Policy Research. He currently serves on the Executive Board of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society. He has lectured at over 100 universities in the U.S. and in 40 countries. Dr. Thurber earned a BS in political science from the University of Oregon and PhD in political science from Indiana University. His book American Gridlock: The Sources, Character and Impact of Political Polarization (with Antoine Yoshinaka) was published Cambridge University Press in December 2015. He is an author or editor of Rivals for Power: Presidential-Congressional Relations (2017, 6th Ed.), Campaigns and Elections, American Style (with Candice J. 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. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration
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 Experts

Area of Expertise

American government and politics, lobbying reforms and ethics, campaigns and elections, Congress, presidency, federal budget process and deficit, voting behavior

Additional Information

James A. Thurber is founder and former 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 forthcoming book is American Gridlock: The Sources, Character and Impact of Political Polarization (with Antoine Yoshinaka). He'd authored several books including 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 Congress and Diaspora Politics: The Influence of Ethnic and Foreign Lobbying (with Colton C. Campbell and David A. Dulio, 2018); 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 co-editor (with AU professor Candice Nelson) of Campaigns and Elections American Style (5th edition, 2018). 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.

For the Media

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

Related Links

AU News & Achievements

James Thurber

Achievements ·

James Thurber Receives APSA Award

The American Political Science Association honor is given annually to a political scientist who has made a substantial contribution to strengthening the relationship between political science and public service.
Full Story

Despite the negative stereotypes, American University professors and students explain the merits of lobbying.

Government & Politics ·

The “L” Word

Despite the negative stereotypes, AU professors and students explain the merits of lobbying.
Full Story

CCPS and OECD MOU Signing

Government & Politics ·

CCPS Signs Historic Advisory Pact with OECD

The Center for Congressional & Presidential Studies at SPA took a giant, and historic, step on the international government policy scene.
Full Story

President Neil Kerwin

On Campus ·

President Kerwin: Rule-Making Key to Shaping Public Policy

The most effective lobbyists shape public policy by writing the rules for laws passed by Congress, President Neil Kerwin said in a recent talk at SPA.
Full Story