Dr. Mario Guerrero
Office Phone: (909) 869-3885
Meeting Time: 11:30AM-12:45PM
Classroom Location: Building 5, Room 138
Office Hours: MTuW 1:00-2:30pm and by appointment
Office Location: 94-316
What is this course about?
Voting and elections are complex and dynamic processes. In the United States, candidates from two major political parties appeal to voters in an attempt to win political office, including the White House, a majority of seats in the national legislature, and offices at the state/local levels. This course will examine election and voting dynamics mostly within the framework of US presidential elections. In many ways, the rules of our presidential election serve as the basis for those of state and local elections. Rules determine 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 most recent presidential 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% Research: Students will be required to participate in the research and discussion of a GOTV event.
15% Midterm Exam: The midterm exam is a short answer and multiple choice exam. The midterm is on Monday, October 1 (Week 6).
15% Midterm Exam: The midterm exam is a short answer and multiple choice exam. The midterm is on Monday, November 5 (Week 11).
25% Paper: Students will be required to synthesize the course material in a 7-10 page paper. The topic will be handed out on Monday, October 29. The paper is due Wednesday, November 14 (Week 12).
30% Final Exam: The final exam is a short answer and multiple choice exam and is cumulative. The final is on Monday, December 10.
Grade Appeals. Students are able to request a grade appeal only 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 physically submitted during office hours.
Please note the following schedule is subject to change throughout the quarter. The readings listed are required before each lecture.
Week 1 (8/27-8/31): Course Introduction.
Monday, August 27. Course Overview. Why do we vote? Why do we study elections? What is voting behavior?
Wednesday, August 29. No Class. American Political Science Association annual meeting.
Week 2 (9/3-9/7): The Basics of the Electoral Process.
Monday, September 3. No Class. Labor Day Holiday.
Wednesday, September 5. 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.
Week 3 (9/10-9/14): Elections as an Instrument of Democracy.
Monday, September 10. 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.
Wednesday, September 12. 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.
Week 4 (9/17-9/21): The Road to 2016.
Monday, September 17. 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.
Wednesday, September 19. 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.
Week 5 (9/24-9/28): How does voting work?
Monday, September 24. The Electoral College. How will the president be elected in November? Is the Electoral College the best way to pick a president?
Wednesday, September 26. 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.
Week 6 (10/1-10/5): The First Midterm.
Midterm. Monday, October 1, 2018
Wednesday, October 3. 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.
Week 7 (10/8-10/12): Models of Voting Behavior.
Monday, October 8. 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.
Wednesday, October 10. 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.
Week 8 (10/15-10/19): Models of Voting Behavior: Part II.
Monday, October 15. 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.
Wednesday, October 17. 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.
Week 9 (10/22-10/26): What is an Opinion?
Monday, October 22. 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.
Wednesday, October 24. 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.
Week 10 (10/29-11/2): The Formation of Political Preferences
Monday, October 29. 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.
Wednesday, October 31. 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.
Week 11 (11/5-11/9): The Second Midterm.
Midterm. Monday, November 5, 2018
Wednesday, November 7. 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.
Week 12 (11/12-11/16): Political Parties: Hindering Democracy?
Monday, November 12. No Class. Veteran’s Day Holiday.
Wednesday, November 14. 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.
Paper due. Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Week 13 (11/19-11/23): The New Frontier of Elections.
Monday, November 19. 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.
Wednesday, November 21. New Media. How is communication in elections changing? How do campaigns and voters utilize online social networking sites?
Readings: “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.
Week 14 (11/26-11/30): Contemporary Issues in Elections.
Monday, November 26. Malaise. What role should the media play in democratic society? Is the media responsible for the malaise in civic society?
Readings: Norris, P. 2004. A Virtuous Circle: Political Communication in Post-Industrial Democracies. Cambridge University Press.
Wednesday, November 28. Race in Elections. What barriers have ethnic and racial minorities faced in elections? 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.
Week 15 (12/3-12/7): Course Conclusion.
Monday, December 3. Gender in Elections. Why are women at a disadvantage when running for office? How do women react differently than men as voters?
Readings: Conroy, M., et. al. 2015. ”From Ferraro to Palin: Sexism in coverage of vice-presidential candidates in old and new media.” Politics, Groups, and Identities 3(4): 573-591.
Wednesday, December 5. Course Conclusion.