PSC 311: Voters, Parties and Elections, Timetable

revised 08/26/18, removing 2016 election materials to GooglOlympics page, by Jeremy Lewis.

311 GoogOlympics Events | 2016 Election index | Real Clear Politics Map 2016
Week: [01] [02] [03] [04] [05] [Test 1] [06] [07] [08] [09] [Test 2] [10] [11] [12] [13][Project] [14][Final]

Week, Dates, Reading, Topic or Title [click for outlines or links]
Week 1
Development of the Party System
Lecture notes: Electoral systems | Party Systems

Hershey 1, Parties & Party Systems
Notes from Schaffner 1, Parties & Politics | 5e notes [PPT]
Opening questions about parties:
- Why do we need parties?
- What are the roles of parties?
- Does the US system of branches and federalism need parties as glue?
- How do US parties differ from those abroad?
- What is a "loyal opposition" and when did one get accepted in the US?
- How do parties differ from interest groups?
- Is money really the mother's milk of American politics (Jesse Unrue)?
- How did the following define political parties: Burke, Epstein and Key?
- In what sense are parties intermediaries?
- What is the nature of Americans as Independents?
- Do parties help or hinder accountability and responsibility in government?

Brewer 1: Stonecash, Political Science and the Study of Parties: Sorting Out Interpretations of Party Response [Reporter]

Week 2
Hershey 2, The American Two-Party System
Notes from Schaffner 2, Party Battle | 5e notes [PPT]
- How did the first party system develop in the young US?
- Why did the Founders fear factions?
- Why did the second party system take root?
- What issues precipitated the third party system?
- Post civil war, what economic and social changes put tensions on the party system?
- Why did party dominance not get reversed in 1896?
- What was the New Deal coalition and why did it form?
- How did the fifth party system erode and what has replaced it?
- What has been the role of third parties in US elections?

Brewer 2: Rae, Diminishing Oddness of American Political Parties [Reporter]
-Are US parties converging with the characteristics of European parties?

Week 3
Hershey, 3, State and Local Party Organizations
Notes from Schaffner 3, Characteristics of American Party System | 5e notes [PPT]
- How many parties are really competitive in US politics?
- How much competition is there for the presidency and the congress?
- At the state level, do single parties dominate in most states?
- How does the decentralized constitutional structure affect political parties?
- How do the parties nominate candidates for office, and how has this changed over time?
- Are US parties mass-based or are they really run by elites?
- Are US parties focused on public policy, and does it divide them?
- Are parties private associations -- or public institutions?

Lecture on electoral coalitions
Brewer 3: Brewer, Attempting to Build a Winner: Parties & the Crafting of Electoral Coalitions [Reporter]

Lecture on the different types of voting equipment, technical difficulties associated with each.
Rubin, Avi. 2004. "Perils of Electronic Voting", San Jose Mercury News, August 8, 2004. [Notes]
- What are the problems of electronic voting machines versus older technology?
- What are the differences between individual failures and systemic failures?

GoogOlympics Event: Presidential staff criticize President Trump.

Week 4
Hershey 4, The Parties' National Organizations
Notes from Schaffner 4, Party Organizations [PPT]

Brewer 4: Hershey, Party Activists, Ideological Extremism, and Party Polarization[Reporters]

Lecture & discussion, Public Opinion Polling

Week 5
The Nomination System: The Primary Election Campaign
- Distinguish primaries from caucuses
- Why did candidate Obama in 2008 take a caucus strategy?
- Why did his campaign abandon public funding?
Hershey 9, How Parties Choose Candidates
Notes from Schaffner 5, Nominations for State and Congressional Offices

Brewer 5: Shea, Local party Viability: Goals and Objectives in the Information Age[Reporters]

For Test 1, check Dates page; short paragraph and essay questions will cover all materials listed above this line, unless otherwise noted.
Hershey 10, Choosing the Presidential Nominees
Notes from Schaffner 6, Presidential Nominations[PPT]

Tests returned and exemplary paragraphs presented by students. (During this, nobody takes notes or records discussion).

Week 7
The Study of Articulation (of Voters to Government)
Lecture on activists, voters' identification, coalitions and turnout
Hershey 5, Party Activists
- Who are party activists and how are they in tension with professionals and with center voters?

Hershey 6, Party identification
- How stable and committed is voters' attachment to parties?

Hershey 7, Party Coalitions and Party Change
- How does each president establish a coalition very four years, and of what types of voters?

Hershey 8, Parties & Voter Turnout  [Reporter]
- How does turnout vary, and how is it stiumulated by each party and candidate?

Notes of Schaffner 7, Political Parties and Voters [PPT]

Brewer 6: Herrnson, National Parties in the Twenty-First Century [Reporter]

Brewer 7: Norrander, Presidential Nominating Contests: Battles to Control the Nominating Calendar [Reporter]
- How do states beggar their neighbors by front-loading primaries?
- What effect does this have on the nomination contests?

Week 8
The Study of Elections
Hershey 11, The General Election
- How is the general election affected by the electoral college system?
- What strategies are employed by campaigns?

Hershey 12, Financing the Campaigns
- How is campaign finance regulated in the US?
- Has the scale of finance been increasing or decreasing as regulation has been tightened or relaxed?

Notes of Schaffner 8, General Election: Campaign Finance & Strategy [PPT]
- How are campaign donations and spending limited?
- What is the role of the 1974 FEC Act?
- How did the BCRA of Sens. McCain and Feingold reform financing law?
- How are party and interest group donations and spending regulated?
- What is the role of transparency in campaign finance?
- How has the Supreme Court affected campaign finance regulation?

Brewer 8: Dwyre, Campaign Finance: Challenges and Adaptations [Reporter]

For Research Design, see prompts form and template of slides and for due date, see Dates page

Week 9

Hershey 13, Parties in Congress and State Legislatures

Hershey 14, The Party in the Executive and the Courts
Notes from Schaffner 9, Parties in Government [PPT]

Brewer 9: Stone, Boehner's Dilemma: A Tempest in a Tea Party?  [Reporter]
[Reps. & districts ideological spectrums PPT]

Week 10
Hershey 16, The Place of Parties in American Politics

Notes from Schaffner 10, Political Parties: Important and Resurgent [PPT]

Brewer 10: Owen, Parties & Media: Respond to Tech Innovation [Reporter]

Oral reports on States' campaigns for US Senate (see above) | Report by Google form

For Test 2, see Dates page; short paragraph and essay questions will cover all materials listed above this line, unless otherwise noted.


Advising week. How to pick courses for spring pre-registration: two for major field, two for core, one elective (and you will be able to graduate on time; transfer students may need to modify this).

Curtis vol. 2, Edmund Burke

- What is the nature of revolution?
- Was the French revolution an emancipation or a suppression of the rights of man?
- Why should we respect the decisions made by previous generations?

Curtis vol. 2, Thomas Paine [Reporter]
- What is the nature of revolution?
- Should each generation be encouraged to re-think the constitution for itself?
- Are the rights of man superior to any current regime's authority?

Brewer 11: Theriault, Congressional Parties & the Policy Process [Reporter]

Week 12
Hershey 15, The Semi-Responsible Parties

Lecture, Responsible Parties to New Electoral Order[Outline]

Nivola (ed): Morris Fiorina, Decline of Collective Responsibility in American Politics [Reporter]
- Is Americans' sense of responsibility in politics declining?
- Has the bond of party been passed down to each generation?
- Has the bond of party declined in government?
- Has immobilism resulted from single-issue politics?

Nivola (ed): V.O. Key, Elections As Collective Decisions [Reporter]
- Do voters choose prospectively on promises, or retrosepctively on results?
- What major factors affect retrospective voting decisions?
- Does it matter whether election results are accepted by the losing side?

Illustrated lecture: post-election analysis [PPT]

Brewer 12: G. Calvin Mackenzie, President's Appointees [Reporter]
- How has the process and scale of making presidential appointments developed over history?
- How are the presidential appointees screened and appointed?
- What types of appointees are chosen?

Week 13
Lecture, Spatial Theory of Parties: one and two Dimensions of European and American Parties

Nivola 15: Anthony Downs, Economic Theory of Democracy[Reporter]
- In a two-party system, will parties try to differentiate from each other?
- Can we represent parties' positions along a single dimension (or spectrum)?
- How would this change in a system of proportional representation?

Nivola 16: Donald Stokes, Spatial Models of Party Competition[Reporter]
- Does it change Downs's analysis if parties are not on a common dimension?
- Does it change if voters have the option on election day of going fishing?

Brewer 13: Alan Abramowitz, Parties in an Age of Polarization [PPT][Reporter] [Notes by Blair]
- Is the US congressional elite polarized compared to previous eras?
- Is the mass of voters polarized compared to previous eras?
- Which elements of the New Deal coalition have split away?
- Which groups of new voters are increasing or decreasing this polarization?

Critical thinking sessions (with PPT examples) about research design.
See project help page and dates page for Research Project, due, with proper organization & citations.

Thanksgiving Break

Week 14

Brief, illustrated presentations of research: the issue; arguments; evidence; and findings. May be given in a 200 level course instead of this course; consult with the instructor on timing.

Critical thinking sessions (with PPT examples) about audiovisual design.

Lecture and discussion, Where could minor parties find space in US politics, if the system offered proportional representation?
PBS, I'm On The Ballot (minor parties, circa 2000)

Finals Week
See Dates page for time of Comprehensive Final Examination, conducted for two hours in usual classroom.
Top of page