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Understanding American Politics provides a unique introduction to the contemporary political landscape of the United States by using as its core organizing feature the idea of "American exceptionalism," a concept that is at least as old as Tocqueville's study of American democracy. The second edition of Understanding American Politics maintains the unique strengths of the first edition while offering improved coverage of political institutions. A single omnibus chapter on institutions has been reorganized and split into three separate chapters on Congress, the presidency, and the courts. A new chapter on public opinion has also been included, and the chapter on religion and politics has been completely rewritten with a deeper appreciation of religion's influential role. The book has been revised throughout, taking into account the dramatic changes that have emerged since the 2010 congressional elections and the 2012 presidential election. The text also pays close attention to what is seen as the irreversible decline in America's global influence. Visit www.utpamericanpolitics.com for additional resources.