Norman Jay Ornstein was born on October 14, 1948, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  He finished high school at age 14 in Winnipeg – his father was originally from Canada.  His parents, Joseph and Dorothy Ornstein, lived in St. Louis Park:

1966:  4450 Minnetonka Blvd.

1967 – 1971: 2654 Alabama Ave.

1972 – 1977:  2036 Louisiana Ave.

Norm lived at home while he attended the University of Minnesota.


From Mr. Ornstein’s website:


Norman Ornstein is a long-time observer of Congress and politics. He pens a weekly column for Roll Call called “Congress Inside Out” and is an election eve analyst for CBS News. He served as co-director of the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project and participates in AEI’s Election Watch series. He also served as a senior counselor to the Continuity of Government Commission, working to ensure that our institutions of government can be maintained in the event of a terrorist attack on Washington; his efforts in this area were recounted in a profile of him in the June 2003 Atlantic Monthly. Ornstein led a working group of scholars and practitioners that helped shape the McCain-Feingold Law, which reformed the campaign financing system.


His many books include The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track, which was co-written with Thomas E. Mann and named one of the best books of 2006 by The Washington Post and dubbed “a classic” by The Economist. His most recent book is the New York Times bestseller, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism, also co-written with Tom Mann.


He has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, and other major publications, and regularly appears on such television programs as “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” “Nightline,” and “Charlie Rose.”


Through a combination of scholarship, hard journalism, and practical down-to-earth understanding of human nature, he shares his insights on the Washington political scene, major elections, and such hot issues as campaign finance reform, economic policy, and healthcare.


Ornstein also dabbles in comedy. He began working with Al Franken in 1992 when he served as Comedy Central’s pollster and commentator covering the party conventions and the election for “Indecision ’92.” He has also done comedy with satirist Mark Russell.


Ornstein co-directed a multi-year effort called the Transition to Governing Project to create a better climate for governing in the era of the permanent campaign, and is currently co-directing a project on election reform. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the Campaign Legal Center, and the Board of Trustees of the US Capitol Historical Society; he was also elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004.


Mr. Ornstein’s many books include:

  • Changing Congress:  The Committee System (1974)
  • Congress in Change: Evolution, and Reform (Editor) (1975)
  • Interest Groups, Lobbying, and Policy Making, with Shirley Elder (1978)
  • Role of the Legislature in Western Democracies (1981)
  • New Congress (AEI Studies), with Thomas E. Mann (1981)
  • President and Congress:  Assessing Reagan’s First Year (AEI Symposia) (1982)
  • Vital Statistics on Congress, 1982 (1982)
  • Who Decides:  A Citizen’s Guide to Government Decision-Making on Nuclear War (1984)
  • American Elections of 1982, with Thomas E. Mann (Editors), (1987)
  • Vital Statistics on Congress, 1987-1988, with Thomas E. Mann (1988)
  • The People, the Press, and Politics:  The Times Mirror Study of the American Electorate, with Andrew Kohut and Larry McCarthy (1988)
  • Vital Statistics on Congress, 1989 – 1990, with Thomas E. Mann (1989)
  • The Permanent Democratic Congress (Ashbrook Essay) (1991)
  • Political Power and Social Change:   The United States Faces a United Europe (The United States and Europe in the 1990s), with Mark Perlman (1991)
  • Balancing Act:  Debt, Deficits, and Taxes (AEI Studies), with John H. Makin (1991)
  • Vital Statistics on Congress, 1991-1992, with Thomas E. Mann (1991)
  • Renewing Congress:  A First Report (Renewing Congress Project), with Thomas E. Mann (1992)
  • Renewing Congress:  A Second Report (Renewing Congress Project), with Thomas E. Mann (1993)
  • Vital Statistics on Congress, 1993-1994 (1993)
  • The Responsive Community Rights and Responsibilities – The Moral State of the Union, Volume 4, Issue 1, Winter 1993/1994
  • Debt and Taxes: How America Got Into Its Budget Mess and What to Do About It, with John H. Makin (1994)
  • Congress, the Press, and the Public (Renewing Congress Project), with Thomas E. Mann, Editors (1994)
  • Intensive Care: How Congress Shapes Health Policy, with Thomas E. Mann, Editors  (1995)
  • Three Perspectives on Block Granting Federal Programs (1995)
  • Vital Statistics on Congress, 1995-1996, with Thomas E. Mann (1995)
  • Campaign Finance:  An Illustrated Guide (1997)
  • Vital Statistics on Congress, 1997-98, with Thomas E. Mann and Michael J. Malbin (1998)
  • Interest Groups, Lobbying, and Policymaking (1998)
  • Vital Statistics on Congress, 1999-2000 with Thomas E. Mann (1999)
  • The Permanent Campaign and Its Future, with Thomas E. Mann, Editors (2000)
  • Lessons and Legacies:  Farewell Addresses from the Senate, with D. David Eisenhower III (2002)
  • Vital Statistics on Congress, with Thomas E. Mann and Michael J. Malbin (2002)
  • The Broken Branch:  How Congress is Failing America and How to Get it Back on Track (Institutions of American Democracy), with Thomas E. Mann (2006)
  • Second Term Blues:  How George W. Bush has Governed, with John C. Fortier, Editors (2007)
  • Vital Statistics on Congress, 2005-2006, with Thomas E. Mann (2008)
  • Vital Statistics on Congress, 2008, with Thomas E. Mann and Michael J. Malbin (2008)
  • It’s Even Worse Than it Looks:  How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism, with Thomas E. Mann (2016)
  • Making Democracy Great Again:  A Guide to Trumpism for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported, with E.J. Dionne and Thomas Mann (2017)


Information for the books listed above is from and may not reflect accurate publication years.  Ornstein has also published many papers and provided Forwards to several other books.