January 26th, 2015 by John Jackson
Reference & Instruction Librarian John Jackson won’t hesitate to tell you that the The Almanac of American Politics is one of his favorite reference works. Political Science majors and any students taking PLSC 110 or PLSC 202 should definitely make this book part of their information arsenal.
Published biennially, the almanac contains in-depth political profiles of every sitting governor and member of congress. The work is organized first by state and then by congressional district. Each chapter contains a brief political history of the state that includes prominent politicians, issues, and events that contributed to its current political climate, demographic information and economic data (e.g. racial/ethnic makeup, home values, education levels, number of registered voters), the role the state has played in presidential politics, and districting information, including maps.
Biographies of each governor include information on their professional careers, ideologies, election results, significant achievements in office thus far, and contact details (in case you’d like to send them an email or call them up on the phone). Profiles of senators and representatives additionally include ratings by various groups such as the ACLU, the League of Conservative Voters, and the Information Technology Industry Council (to name just a few), a list of committees on which they currently serve, and information on how they voted on key issues during their recent term in office.
The final section of the almanac contains brief, special features such as the rosters for the House and Senate, a list of all new members, minorities, and women in Congress, the National Journal’s Vote Rating (e.g. most liberal, conservative, and center leaning members of Congress), lists of districts with especially high or low demographics (e.g. largest Hispanic populations, most educated districts), and campaign financing information.
The latest edition (2014) is on order for Wardman Library and should arrive in the next two weeks. Unfortunately, it’s been rumored that it no longer contains campaign spending information. However, interested readers can consult The Campaign Finance Institute and The Center for Responsive Politics for more information.