Dr. Mario Guerrero
Office Phone: (909) 869-3885
Meeting Time: 11:45AM-12:50PM
Classroom Location: Building 5, Room 262
Office Hours: Mondays/Wednesdays 10:30-11:30am & Thursdays 11:00am-12:00pm & 1:00-2:00pm
Office Location: 94-316
What is this course about?
The United States electoral process is a complex and dynamic system. In US elections, candidates from two major political parties appeal to voters in an attempt to win political offices, including a majority of seats in the national legislature and the White House. This course will examine election and campaign dynamics within the framework of the 2016 presidential election. In many ways, the 2016 presidential election is the basis for state and local elections. The rules of the election process determines how voters, candidates, and other actors react in a sometimes tumultuous atmosphere. Attention will focus on voting behavior, campaign processes, campaign finance, media communication, and electoral reform. The course will also place the contemporary election in comparative perspective to earlier and future elections. By the end of the course, students will be able to understand and assess the history and structure of elections, the motivations and psychology of voters, and the exogenous forces that can affect political behavior.
What books do we need?
In an effort to save you money, there are no textbooks or printed reader for this course. All required readings will be found online. Please visit the course website for frequent updates. If you have trouble with accessing course materials or prefer printed readings, please contact me to make alternate arrangements.
This class is comprised of five components designed to give a fair and comprehensive assessment of your progress in this course.
15% Panel: Students will be required to participate in a 20-minute panel discussion of recent election events. (Prompt) | (Calendar)
15% Blog Post: Students will report on a newsworthy item, complete with analysis and commentary, to be posted online at a pre-determined, scheduled time. (Prompt) | (Calendar)
20% Midterm Exam: The midterm exam is a short answer and multiple choice exam. The midterm is on Friday, October 28 (Week 5).
20% Paper: Students will be required to synthesize the course material in a 7-10 page paper. The topic will be handed out on Friday, October 28. The paper is due Wednesday, November 23 (Week 9). (Prompt)
30% Final Exam: The final exam is a short answer and multiple choice exam and is cumulative. The final is on Friday, December 9.
Grade Appeals. The period for grade appeals begins 24 hours after an assignment is handed back. The grade appeal must be made within a week of receiving the grade. The appeal must be written and made during office hours.
Please note the following schedule is subject to change throughout the quarter. The readings listed are required before each lecture.
Week 0 (9/23): Course Introduction.
Thursday, September 23. Course Overview. Why do we vote? Why do we study elections? What is voting behavior?
PowerPoint for 9/23: (PDF)
Week 1 (9/26-9/30): Rules of the Game & Theory.
Monday, September 26. The Basics of the Electoral Process.
Readings: Lowi, T.J., B. Ginsberg, and K.A. Shepsle. 2008. American Government. New York: WW Norton: Chapter 10.
PowerPoint for 9/26: (PDF)
First Presidential Debate: Monday, September 29 at 5:30pm
Wednesday, September 28. Direct Control of Elections. What is indirect control? What is direct control? What is the role of public opinion?
Readings: Lederman, S. 1968. “The Ballot in Political Theory” in Elections in America: Control and Influence in American Politics, ed. Gerald M. Pomper. New York: Prentice Hall.
PowerPoint for 9/28: (PDF)
Friday, September 30. Elections as instruments of democracy. Who participates? How do citizens influence the democratic process?
Readings: Blais, A. 2007. “Turnout in elections.” Oxford Handbook of Political Behavior. Oxford University Press.
PowerPoint for 9/30: (PDF)
Week 2 (10/3-10/7): The 2016 Presidential Election.
Monday, October 3. The Road to 2016. Who are the major candidates for president? Who is Hillary Clinton? Who is Donald Trump?
Readings: Nelson, L. and T. Clark. 2015. “Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential run, explained.” Vox.com, 26 August
Allen, J. 2015. “The 11 moments that define Hillary Clinton,” Vox.com, 15 June.
PowerPoint for 10/3: (PDF)
Vice-Presidential Debate: Tuesday, October 4 at 5:30pm
Wednesday, October 5. The Primary Election. How do primary elections work? How did the 2016 presidential primaries play out?
Readings: Martin, J. and P. Healy. 2016. “Donald Trump All but Clinches G.O.P. Race with Indiana Win; Ted Cruz Quits.” New York Times, 3 May.
Chozick, A. 2016. “Hillary Clinton’s Long, Grueling Quest.” New York Times, 7 June.
PowerPoint for 10/5: (PDF)
Friday, October 7. The Electoral College. How will the president be elected in November? Is the Electoral College the best way to pick a president?
PowerPoint for 10/7: (PDF)
Presidential Town Hall Forum: Sunday, October 9 at 5:30pm
Week 3 (10/10-10/14): Models of Voting Behavior: Part I.
Monday, October 10. Voting Behavior. Why do people vote the way they do? How have political scientists approached this question?
Readings: Bartels, L. 2010. “The Study of Electoral Behavior.” Oxford Handbook of American Elections and Political Behavior. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
PowerPoint for 10/10: (PDF)
Wednesday, October 12. The Columbia School. What is the earliest research on voting? How important are social forces in your vote?
Readings: Bereleson, B., P. Lazarfeld, and W. McPhee. 1954. Voting: A Study of Opinion Formation in a Presidential Campaign. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
PowerPoint for 10/12: (PDF)
Friday, October 14. The Columbia School. How does identifying with social groups determine your vote? What does the Columbia Model look like in practice?
Janowitz, M. and W. Miller. 1952. “The Index of Political Predisposition in the 1948 Election.” Journal of Politics 14: 710-727.
PowerPoint for 10/14: (PDF)
Week 4 (10/17-10/21): Models of Voting Behavior: Part II.
Monday, October 17. The Michigan School. What is the major improvement made on the initial Columbia studies? What role does psychology play in the process of voting?
Readings: Campbell, A., P. Converse, W. Miller, and D. Stokes. 1960. The American Voter. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
PowerPoint for 10/17: (PDF)
Wednesday, October 19. Rational Choice. Is it possible to model an individual’s preferences? How do campaigns respond to individual preferences?
Readings: Downs, A. 1957. An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York: Harper and Row.
Final Presidential Debate: Wednesday, October 19 at 5:30pm
PowerPoint for 10/19: (PDF)
Friday, October 21. Retrospective Voting. Do voters look to their past experiences when casting a vote for politicians? What does retrospective voting tell us about who wins an election?
Irwin, N. 2015. “Forecasters Expect a Strong Economy for the 2016 Presidential Election.” New York Times, 18 July.
PowerPoint for 10/21: (PDF)
Week 5 (10/24-10/28): Models of Voting Behavior: Part III.
Tuesday, October 24. Voting Behavior. How can political science research in voting behavior be succinctly summarized? Can we see these theories at work in contemporary elections?
Readings: Bartlett, B. 2015. “Donald Trump doesn’t need Latino voters to win.” The Washington Post. 4 September.
Brown, E.N. 2014. “Blog Post: The Democratic Party Has Become So Useless It’s Making Young Liberals Look Longingly at Rand Paul.” Reason.com. 17 November.
O’Connor, P. and J. Hook. 2015. “Splits Plague Both Parties as Fall Primary Campaign Starts.” The Wall Street Journal. 7 September.
PowerPoint for 10/24: (PDF)
Wednesday, October 26. Catch-up
Midterm. Thursday, October 28, 2016
Week 6 (10/31-11/4): The Formation of Political Preferences
Monday, October 31. Political Opinions. What and how is an opinion formed? What is socialization?
Readings: Jennings, M.K., L. Stoker, and J. Bowers. 2009. “Politics across generations: Family transmissions examined.” Journal of Politics 71(3): 782-799.
PowerPoint for 10/31: (PDF)
Wednesday, November 2. Opinion Stability. How do people hold opinions over time? Why do people change their opinion?
Readings: Zaller, J. 1992. The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Chapter 2.
PowerPoint for 11/2: (PDF)
Friday, November 4. Political Knowledge. What do Americans know about politics? What are the ramifications for political knowledge in politics?
Readings: PEW Center. 2007. “Public Knowledge of Current Affairs Little Changed by News and Information Revolutions: What Americans Know: 1989-2007.” April 15.
PowerPoint for 11/4: (PDF)
Week 7 (11/7-11/11): Election Week
Monday, November 7. The Day Before the Election. What are the issues of importance to you? What are the candidate’s issue positions?
PowerPoint for 11/7: (PDF)
Wednesday, November 9. Election post-mortem. Who won and why? What are the potential ramifications for the win?
Friday, November 11. Veteran’s Day — No Class
Week 8 (10/14-10/18): Voters & Political Parties
Monday, November 14. Campaign Finance. Who pays for campaigns? How does money change the landscape of elections?
Readings: Francia, P.L., W. Joe, and C. Wilson. 2013. “Campaign Finance– New Realities Beyond Citizens United.” in Campaigns on the Cutting Edge. Los Angeles: Sage Press.
PowerPoint for 11/14: (PDF)
Wednesday, November 16. Political Parties. Why are political parties important to American politics? What role does the party play in elections?
Readings: Aldrich, J. 1995. Why Parties? The Origin and Transformation of Political Parties in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Chapter 2.
PowerPoint for 11/16: (PDF)
Friday, November 18. Interest Groups. What are party networks? How do interest group influences over take individual voter preferences?
Bawn, K., D. Karol, S. Masket, H. Noel, and J. Zaller. 2012. “A Theory of Political Parties: Groups, Policy Demands, and Nominations in American ‘Politics’” Perspective on Politics 10(3): 571-597.
PowerPoint for 11/18: (PDF)
Week 9 (11/21-11/25): Campaign Communications & Media
Monday, November 21.
New Media. How is communication in elections changing? How do campaigns and voters utilize online social networking sites?
“Communicating and Electing” in Communication in US Elections: New Agendas, eds., R. Hart and D. Shaw. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield. Conroy, M, J. Feezell, and M. Guerrero. 2012. “Facebook and political engagement: A study of online political group membership and offline political engagement.” Computers in Human Behavior 28(5): 1535-1546.
Wednesday, November 23.
Malaise. What role should the media play in democratic society? Is the media responsible for the malaise in civic society?
Norris, P. 2004. A Virtuous Circle: Political Communication in Post-Industrial Democracies. Cambridge University Press.
Paper Due. Wednesday, November 23 (Prompt)
Week 10 (11/28-12/2): Contemporary Issues & Electoral Reform
Monday, November 28. Race & Gender in Elections. What barriers have ethnic and racial minorities faced in elections? Why are women at a disadvantage when running for office? How do voters treat candidates from different racial and ethnic backgrounds? Readings: Terkildsen, N. 1993. “When White Voters Evaluate Black Candidates: The Processing Implications of Skin Color, Prejudice, and Self-Monitoring.” American Journal of Political Science 37(4): 1032-1053.
Wednesday, November 30.
Representation. Do politicians respond to the policy preferences of the American public? Can and should we reform the Electoral College in order to implement direct control? Readings: Page, B.J. and R.Y. Shapiro. 1983. “Effects of public opinion on policy.” American Political Science Review 77: 175-190. Koza, J, et. al. 2006. “Three Previously Proposed Federal Constitutional Amendments.” Every Vote Equal: A State-Based Plan for Electing the President by National Popular Vote. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Friday, December 3. Course Conclusion.