Governing States and Localities (7th Edition)

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AuthorsKevin B. Smith, Alan H. Greenblatt


Governing States and Localities, now in its 7th edition, is a comprehensive and insightful resource that delves into the intricacies of governing at the state and local levels. Written by Kevin B. Smith and Alan Greenblatt, this book offers a valuable perspective on the dynamics, challenges, and opportunities inherent in the governance of states and localities. In this blog post, we will explore the key themes and concepts discussed in this seminal work, providing a glimpse into the complex world of governing states and localities.

Chapter 1: The Context of State and Local Politics

The book begins by examining the contextual factors that shape state and local politics. It explores the historical, demographic, economic, and cultural influences that play a significant role in shaping governance structures and decision-making processes. By understanding the unique context in which states and localities operate, policymakers and citizens can better appreciate the complexities of governing in these jurisdictions.

Chapter 2: Federalism and Inter-governmental Relations

One of the defining features of the American political system is federalism, which establishes a balance of power between the national government and the states. This chapter delves into the intricacies of federalism, exploring the dynamics of inter-governmental relations and the division of responsibilities between different levels of government. It highlights the challenges and opportunities that arise from this complex system and the impact it has on policy implementation and coordination.

Chapter 3: Parties and Interest Groups

Political parties and interest groups are crucial actors in state and local governance. This chapter delves into the role these entities play in shaping policy agendas, influencing elections, and advocating for their respective interests. It examines the strategies employed by parties and interest groups, shedding light on their impact on the governance process and the various ways they interact with policymakers and citizens.

Chapter 4: Elections and Political Participation

Elections are the cornerstone of democratic governance. In this chapter, Smith and Greenblatt explore the electoral process at the state and local levels. They examine the role of campaign finance, voting behavior, and redistricting in shaping electoral outcomes. Additionally, they discuss the implications of low voter turnout and strategies to enhance political participation, emphasizing the importance of an engaged citizenry in the democratic process.

Chapter 5: State Legislatures

State legislatures serve as vital arenas for policy debates and decision-making. This chapter provides an in-depth analysis of the structure and functions of state legislatures, exploring the dynamics of lawmaking, committee systems, and the role of legislative leaders. It highlights the challenges legislators face, such as balancing the needs of diverse constituencies and navigating partisan divisions, while also showcasing examples of effective governance.

Chapter 6: Governors and Executives

State governors and executives play a crucial role in setting policy agendas and implementing programs. This chapter explores the powers and responsibilities of governors, examining the dynamics of executive-legislative relations and the strategies employed by governors to achieve their policy goals. It also discusses the role of other executive officials, such as mayors and county executives, in local governance and policy implementation.

Chapter 7: Courts and the Judiciary

The judiciary plays a critical role in shaping state and local governance through the interpretation and application of laws. This chapter provides insights into the structure and functions of state and local courts, exploring their impact on policy development, civil rights, and social justice. It also examines the role of judicial elections, the selection of judges, and the challenges associated with maintaining an impartial and independent judiciary.


Governing States and Localities (7th Edition) offers a comprehensive examination of the intricate world of state and local governance. By exploring the contextual factors, federalism, political parties, interest groups, elections, legislatures, executives, and the judiciary, Smith and Greenblatt provide readers with a nuanced understanding of the challenges and opportunities inherent in governing at these levels. This book serves as an invaluable resource for policymakers, students, and citizens interested in the complex dynamics of state and local politics, offering insights and perspectives that are essential for effective governance in the 21st century.

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Written by Jordan Farrell

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