OCTOBER 1, 2002
: Portions of this syllabus and of the feedback I will provide on your papers are available in the portable document format (PDF). PDF files have advantages that might appeal to you: (a) You can save a PDF file to your hard drive and view it without being connected to the Internet; (b) PDF files have page breaks, so you can print selected pages if you like. PDF is also the dominant file type used for delivering facsimiles of paper documents, like court opinions and legislative reports, over the Internet. To read PDF files on your personal computer you need the Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you can download without charge from the publisher's web site. This software is already loaded on most college-owned computers. A printer-friendly PDF version of this syllabus is available by clicking on the PDF icon above, but it may not reflect last minute changes. Compare the date at the top of the page.
Feedback: Whether or not you are asked to complete a standardized course evaluation, I am interested in your comments and suggestions for improvement of the course, the readings, the assignments and this course description. Feel free to send comments as you think of them. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Instructor: Craig W. Allin, Room 307, South Hall. Telephone: Office, (895-) 4278; Home, 895-8103. Phone messages may be left with faculty secretary Cheryl Dake (895-) 4283 or in her voice mail box or on the answering machine at my home. I do not check my office voice mail. If I do not answer the phone, I recommend contacting me by e-mail.
Office Hours: If I'm not in class with you, you can probably find me in my office. Feel free to make an appointment or just show up. To help you find me, the most current version of my schedule is available for your electronic inspection over the campus network if you are using Microsoft Outlook (not Outlook Express). From 8:00 a.m. to noon and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Cheryl Dake, faculty secretary for South Hall (ext. 4283) can consult my calendar and make appointments for you.
E-Mail Attachments: Please deliver your papers, independent reading abstracts, and and take home quizzes (if any) by means of e-mail attachments. Please save your papers and other submissions in WordPerfect (versions 6 through 10) or Word 97/2000. Attach your file to an e-mail addressed to email@example.com . If you are unfamiliar with e-mail attachments, click here for instructions.
Class Meetings: South Hall, Room 302. Consult Course Calendar & Assignments for times.
Focus & Approach: Our topic, Campaigns & Elections, is unusually well suited to mixing politics and science.
In this course we will endeavor to understand campaigns and elections from the varying perspectives of candidates, voters, consultants, journalists, lawyers, judges, and even political scientists. Each has a vantage point; each sees part of the whole. By examining campaigns and elections from multiple vantage points, we hope to provide a more complete, more nuanced, and more interesting perspective than could be provided from any fixed location.
Just as we embrace multiple points of view, we also embrace multiple approaches to learning.
COMMON TEXTS. We will be reading and discussing each of them together. You'll need to buy a copy of each.
CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT SIMULATION.
CURRENT NEWS. Pick a daily newspaper and scan it daily for news of interest to the class. You can pick one of the hundreds of daily papers that are now available on-line at no charge whatsoever. You can kill two birds with one stone by picking a daily paper that serves the same Congressional District that you pick for your Campaign Research Assignment.
CAMPAIGN RESEARCH ASSIGNMENT. The biggest portion of your course grade depends upon your performance on the Campaign Research Assignment. The following books are all on reserve in the library. Collectively they comprise an indispensable resource for the completion of this assignment. Use them selectively to help you figure out both (a) what to do and (b) how to do it.
Internet Resources: The Politics Department Web Site contains valuable links for research in politics including a special page of links created just for this class. The links on the Campaigns & Elections page include several that are probably indispensable for your Campaign Research Assignment. Click the appropriate links at the top of this document.
Video: For the past 50 years political campaigns have been media driven. One result is that there is a lot of good video, both classic and contemporary. You'll have a chance to see some of the best. Consult Course Calendar & Assignments for the video schedule, which is subject to change on short notice.
As is the custom in many graduate seminars, you have reading and reporting responsibilities that go beyond the assigned texts. Course Calendar & Assignments lists discussion topics for each day of the class. When the responsibility has been assigned to you, you are obligated to locate, read, analyze, and share additional material relevant to the day's discussion topic. Your independent reading assignment for any given day is one chapter in a scholarly book or one article in a scholarly journal. You could guess about what is "scholarly," or we could argue about it. For the purposes of this assignment, scholarly texts are those accompanied by complete bibliographic annotation: citations (parenthetical notes, footnotes or endnotes) and references (reference list, works cited or bibliography). For a refresher course on identifying scholarly sources, consult A Guide to Accessing Scholarly Resources: Locating Information for Politics-Related Assignments. Each selection must be within the scope of the day's discussion topic and should bear some relationship to the topics covered in the assigned reading for that day. Assignments will be made during the first class period.
Your grade for this portion of the course will depend upon both what you contribute to the seminar discussion and what you submit in writing. For the discussion your job is
Your written assignment is a formal abstract of the selection you read. Please submit it by e-mail attachment prior to the class during which you will report. Your abstract should contain the complete bibliographical entry using one of the approved manuals of style followed by an accurate synopsis of the selection in proper English and limited to 500 words. Note: Your abstract synopsizes only the contents of your selection. It does not include the analyses that are part of your oral report. Please consult How to Write an Abstract for guidance and a model written assignment.
It is my hope that this form of assignment will have at least four benefits:
Here are some hints to get you started:
Each student will participate with others in a group exploration of a more specialized monograph. The books selected for this activity are listed as SPECIALIZED MONOGRAPHS. Books will be assigned the first day of the class. You will explore these readings through group discussion and analysis. Eventually each group will be given an entire class meeting during which group members will share what they have learned with the rest of the class. See Course Calendar & Assignments for presentation dates.
How to Approach the Task:
Things to think about:
Presentations in general:
Grades will be assigned to the entire group. Grades are determined by content and elocution. Strong content depends on knowledge of the subject, clear presentation of main ideas, careful subordination of secondary ideas, explanations and examples, and close attention to logical transition, all supported by good visual aids. Effective elocution depends on your skill in referring to notes, managing the time available, enunciating clearly, speaking with appropriate pace and variety of emphasis, and maintaining effective eye contact with your audience.
Long before any serious political campaign is launched, long before candidates admit to "testing the waters" through calculated public exposure, close advisors of potential political candidates engage in a kind of feasibility study. There are no established rules for such a study, and the results are only rarely revealed outside the inner circle. Nevertheless, it is apparent that every such study must merge the results of constituency research and candidate research into a strategic plan for winning the election.
Your assignment is to produce such a feasibility study for an unnamed candidate considering a campaign against an incumbent member of the United States House of Representatives. Only one student may work on any given Congressional district, so register your choice with me before you begin.
The study has three parts. Each part of the assignment is described briefly below. To understand adequately what you must do and how to go about it, you WILL need to consult the references on reserve in the library in addition to the brief information provided below. See CAMPAIGN RESEARCH ASSIGNMENT, for a listing of reserve materials. See Course Calendar & Assignments for due dates.
Part I: Constituency Research. The first task is to produce a report on the Congressional District in which your candidate is considering making her/his race. The report should be clearly organized and should present and assess information that is relevant to the conduct of the proposed political campaign. The report should attempt not only to assess the politically relevant characteristics of the district as a whole, but should, whenever possible explore the characteristics of its component parts and make comparisons to state and nation. I hope you will discover a wide range of relevant data on your constituency. Relevant data include measures of population, age, wealth, race & ethnicity, economic base, media, institutions, and voting history. I am looking for you to organize that data so as to make it accessible to the reader. Tables, graphs, and maps can go a long way. You need to explain the importance of the data. Data don't speak for themselves. You need to answer the questions: what makes this data important? what are the electoral lessons to be learned from what you have discovered? Part I will count for 15% of the course grade.
Part II: Candidate Research. Candidate research comes in two major varieties: self-assessment and opponent research. Since your candidate is unnamed, there will be no self-assessment here. Your task is opponent research, and your opponent is an incumbent member of the United States House of Representatives. This report should present and assess information about your opponent which has political relevance. It is important to include basic biographical information and evidence of recent electoral performance. You must also explore your opponent's "record" including (a) stands on issues as measured by votes in Congress and (b) standing with various interest groups. To be electorally useful, opposition votes must be described in some detail. At minimum we would want the date of the vote and a clear description of what was being decided by that vote. We ought to have a page specific citation (ideally to primary documents, e.g., the Congressional Record). Members of Congress are reelected every two years. Votes cast more than two years ago are likely to be of small value in your research. The voters have already accepted them. Your primary emphasis should be on what your opponent has done lately. Other information might be drawn from speeches in Congress or elsewhere. Group support can be measured by examining the ratings of various interest groups. For this information to be meaningful, you need to supply the reader with the information required to interpret the numbers. Group support can also be measured by campaign contributions. Who gave your opponent money has obvious electoral possibilities, especially if you can establish a linkage between acceptance of contributions and official performance. In short, explore personal characteristics, sources of support, voting record in Congress, and apparent compatibility with the district represented. Data from Project Vote Smart and the Federal Election Commission are available on the Internet. Your opponent should also have a web site, and the odds are good that you can find local news sources on the Internet that cover the district in question. Part II will count for 15% of the course grade.
Part III: Strategic Plan. The final task is to prepare a strategic plan to guide your unnamed challenger in her/his attempt to defeat the incumbent in the general election. Here you must synthesize everything you know about the constituency from Part I, everything you know about the incumbent from Part II, and everything you know about winning elections from Politics 363 generally and from the reserve resources specifically. The primary measure of quality here is the degree to which you are able to integrate the theoretical knowledge from your class and reserve reading with the facts of your specific situation in one specific Congressional district represented by one specific Member of Congress. Among the things I would hope to see here are discussion of the political atmosphere in which the campaign will be fought, the characteristics to be desired in a candidate who might hope to succeed, the organizational structure best suited to your situation, the theme of the campaign and the issues to be developed (sample media offerings are a nice touch), the budget for your campaign and how you expect to raise it, and the time line or general sequencing of activities you propose. Part III will count for 15% of the course grade.
Success on this project will require careful research, effective organization, lucid prose, and complete documentation. For further information on papers in general, please see the section on PAPERS in COMMON SENSE FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS.
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