What Does a Political Scientist Do?

Political scientists are part researcher, part analyst, and part forecaster. They use their expertise to understand how policies and laws affect government, business, and citizens. They look back at history and monitor current affairs to predict trends. Certainly, political science includes the study of institutions of government, formal laws, political processes, and political issues; but it also examines public opinion, political parties, and economics. As a science, the study of politics strives to be systematic, objective, and impartial. Ideally, randomness and subjectivity are avoided and personal biases and partisan views are kept out of the process. This is not to say that a political scientist cannot offer opinions as well as conclusions, but the discipline requires that they be based on fact and supported by evidence and reasoning.

The largest focus of political science in the United States is American Government; also referred to as civics. The discipline studies voting behavior, political parties, lawmaking, the Constitution, public administration, public policy, the role of the courts, and other facets of American government.

In more general terms, the diverse field of political science is divided into four major subfields. To understand what a political scientist is, it is necessary to comprehend the distinctions that define the areas of the discipline.