American politics concerns the study of American institutions and political behavior. At Columbia and elsewhere, American politics is one of the largest subfields in terms of faculty and students, and the field has been responsible for generating many methodological innovations in the discipline.
The department engages in the full range of topics in the study of institutions, including in areas often neglected even in top departments: bureaucracy and the oversight of regulatory agencies, state politics, courts, and electoral rules and in particular primaries. In the area of political behavior research, the department also engages a broad range of topics, including the politics of race and ethnicity, voting, political psychology, and connections between public opinion and policy. A number of Columbia scholars pursue both the institutional and behavioral lines of work, and they have contributed substantially as well to the historical study of American political development from both institutional and behavioral perspectives.
American politics scholars are also among the discipline's leaders in the design of field experiments and the study of elections.