James Thurber Distinguished Prof Emeritus Department of Government
- PhD, Indiana University
MA, Indiana University
BA, University of Oregon
James A. Thurber is University Distinguished Professor of Government Emeritus and Founder (1979) and Founder and Former Director (1979-2016) of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies and Affiliate Distinguished Professor of Public Administration and Policy Emeritus at American University, Washington, D.C.
He is author of numerous books and more than 90 articles and chapters on
Congress, interest groups and lobbying, and campaigns and elections. His four most recent books are: Rivals for Power: Presidential-Congressional Relations (2022, 7th Ed.). Campaigns and Elections, American Style (with Candice J. Nelson, 5th Ed., 2019), 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). His other books include: 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 (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. He founded the biannual Campaign Management Institute, the Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute, and annual European Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute in Brussels. Since 1976, he has worked for several members of the U.S. Congress on congressional reorganization, ethics, and lobbying reform.
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 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.
- For the Media
- To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.
GOVT-524 Topics in Pub Affairs/Advocacy: Workshop on Ethics & Lobbying
Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities
- Rivals for Power: Presidential-Congressional Relations (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 7th edition, 2022).
- Campaigns and Elections: American Style (with Candice Nelson) (Westview Press, 6th Edition, 2019).
- 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).
- 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).
- Campaign Warriors: Political Consultants in Elections (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2019) (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).
- Congress and the Internet (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 2003) (with Colton Campbell).
Area of Expertise
American government and politics, lobbying reforms and ethics, campaigns and elections, Congress, presidency, federal budget process and deficit, voting behavior
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.