OCTOBER 1, 2002

Department of Politics


363. Campaigns & Elections
In the Wake of a Disputed Presidential Election
In the Midst of a W
ar on Terrorism
October 2002

Dr. Craig W. Allin, Instructor
Corey Williams Green, Consulting Librarian






The following Supplements to this Course Description can be found on the Web:

Calendar & Assignments Independent Reading & Report Group Study & Report Campaign Research Assignment
Rules & Regulations Internet Research Links Campaigns & Elections Course Links Citing Internet Sources
Grades E-Mail Attachments Politics Department Good Advice

: 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.

Use Me Digital Classroom: We have the good fortune to be meeting in South 302, a classroom equipped for digital projection from computer and VCR. I encourage you to take advantage of the available technology in your oral presentations.

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: callin@cornellcollege.edu.

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.

  1. On the File menu, point to Open, and then click Other User's Folder.
  2. In the Open Other User's Folder box, click Name and select Craig Allin from the list.
  3. In the Folder box, select Calendar from the pull-down menu.
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 callin@cornellcollege.edu . 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.


  • Because votes can be counted, political power can be allocated democratically. Of course, you knew that! But it is still vitally important. Elections may be hard to interpret. Elections may not decide issues or confer policy mandates. Indeed, as the 2000 presidential election demonstrated, the candidate with the most votes may not win. Nevertheless, in a democracy elections do determine who holds public office. They do guarantee a degree of accountability between office public officials and the electorate.
  • Because votes can be counted, elections were among the first political phenomena to be studied quantitatively by political scientists.
  • Because votes can be counted, the effectiveness of campaigns and campaign tactics can be measured. This has given rise to a coterie of professional campaign workers who sell their services and their expertise to candidates.
  • Because votes can be counted, the media have developed a compulsion to keep score, drawing public attention away from ideas, issues, and policy consideration, and reducing the political campaign to a sporting event where the only significant question is "who's ahead?"

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.

  • We will be reading common texts and discussing them.
  • We will be reading more specialized monographs and reporting on them in panels.
  • We will be reading independently and sharing what we've learned.
  • We will be following the 2002 Congressional campaigns as they happen.
  • We will be watching some excellent video.
  • We will be managing the campaigns of fictitious candidates in a fictitious state, attempting to win the hearts and minds of fictitious voters, whose attitudes and voting behaviors are modeled after the real thing.
  • We will be conducting campaign research assignments, doing demographic and opposition research on individual Congressional districts and preparing a strategic plan for the defeat of a very real member of Congress.

COMMON TEXTS. We will be reading and discussing each of them together. You'll need to buy a copy of each.

L. Sandy Maisel. 2002. Parties & Elections in America: The Electoral Process. 3rd Edition, Post-Election Update.
Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Jack N. Rakove. 2002. The Unfinished Election of 2000. New York: Basic Books.
One of best among the many new books about the strangest presidential election in American history.

SPECIALIZED MONOGRAPHS. Each will be read and reported on by a group of students. Assignments will be made the first day of the class. Don't buy any of these books until one has been assigned to you.

Benjamin Ginsberg & Martin Shefter. 2002. Politics by Other Means: Politicians, Prosecutors, and the Press in the Post-Electoral Era . New York: W.W. Norton.
Ginsberg & Shefter argue that campaigns and elections -- and therefore voters and citizens -- are increasingly irrelevant to the governance of the nation. This can't be a good thing!
[The cover portrayed is that of the 1999 edition.]
Larry J. Sabato. 2000. Feeding Frenzy: Attack Journalism & American Politics. Baltimore: Lanahan Publishers.
Sabato coined the term attack journalism. Here he discusses the history of changing standards in political journalism and the dangers associated with lower standards for campaigns, governance and the media itself.
Keith Reeves. 1997. Voting Hopes or Fears? White Voters, Black Candidates & Racial Politics in America. New York: Oxford University Press.
Reeves careful study reveals that the paucity of black office holders from areas where the majority of voters are white is due in significant part to continued racial animus that infects the thinking and voting of whites.
Jeffrey M Stonecash. 2000. Class & Party in American Politics. Boulder: Westview Press.
Stonecash challenges the widespread perception that social class is diminishing in its importance for explaining the political behavior of parties and voters. His analysis has important implications for a nation in which the distribution of wealth becomes less equal every year.


Murray Fishel, David Gopoian & J. Michael Stacey. 1987. On the Campaign Trail: The Ultimate Campaign Computer Simulation. Washington, D.C.: Campaigns & Elections Magazine.

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.

  • Ron Faucheux. 2002. Running for Office: The Messages, Techniques and Strategies Political Candidates Need to Win Modern Elections [324.7]
  • Daniel M. Shea & Michael John Burton. 2001. Campaign Craft: The Strategies, Tactics, and Art of Political Campaign Management. [personal copy]
  • Catherine Shaw. 2000. The Campaign Manager: Running & Winning Local Elections, 2nd ed. [324.70973 Sh26c 2000]
  • Susan Gruber. 1997. How to Win Your 1st Election: The Candidate's Handbook, 2nd ed. [personal copy]
  • Karen S. Johnson-Cartee and Gary A. Copeland. 1997. Inside Political Campaigns. [324.0973 J639in]
  • Catherine M. Golden. 1996. The Campaign Manager. [personal copy]
  • R.R. Bob Grieve. 1996. The Blood, Sweat, and Tears of Political Victory...and Defeat. [324.0973 G863b]
  • Daniel M. Shea. 1996. Campaign Craft: The Strategies, Tactics, and Art of Political Campaign Management. [324.70973 Sh31c]
  • Dick Simpson. 1996. Winning Elections: A Handbook of Modern Participatory Politics [personal copy]
  • S.J. Guzzetta. 1989. The Campaign Manual, 3rd ed. [324.7 G994c 1989]
  • S.J. Guzzetta. 1989. The Campaign Strategy, 1st ed. [324.7 C15]
  • S.J. Guzzetta. 1989. The Finance Manual, 1st ed. [324.78 G994f]

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.


  1. READING AND CLASS PARTICIPATION: You are expected to attend every class unless you have been excused. You are expected to complete all reading assignments prior to the class period for which they are listed in the syllabus. In addition, you are expected to follow the course of the campaign season closely in the daily media. You should come to class each day prepared to share information and insights and raise questions based upon your formal and informal reading assignments. You can expect to get out of most classes about what you put into them. To give you an incentive to contribute to this one, 10% of the course grade will be determined by the quality and quantity of your class participation.

  2. INDEPENDENT READING AND REPORTING: On one day you will also have an "Independent Reading" assignment. See INDEPENDENT READING AND REPORTING ASSIGNMENT. The independent reading assignments will count for 5 percent of the final course grade.

  3. GROUP STUDY & REPORT: Each student will participate with others in a group exploration of a more specialized book. See GROUP STUDY & REPORT for details. This assignment counts for 20% of the course grade.

  4. EXAMINATIONS & QUIZZES: There will be NONE! Your mastery of the required reading will be measured by its impact on your contributions to the class discussion and to your campaign research assignment.

  5. CAMPAIGN RESEARCH ASSIGNMENT: The research and writing component of Politics 363 consists of a three-part Campaign Research Assignment. The Campaigns & Elections course lends itself to practical application of political science techniques, and this is such an application. This assignment counts for 45% of the course grade. See CAMPAIGN RESEARCH ASSIGNMENT for details.

  6. CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT SIMULATION: The second major opportunity to apply what you are learning is in the form of a microcomputer based simulation entitled On the Campaign Trail. In teams of approximately three persons you will manage the candidacy of either Joe Clark (Democrat) or Prescott "Chip" Jones III (Republican) as they contest a vacant Senate seat in the State of Tarragon (an imaginary state with a diversity of people and interests which pretty well matches that of the USA).

    Campaign decision-making is group decision-making, but individual members of each team will rotate the responsibility of producing a daily log of activities/decisions with supporting rationale. Daily log sheets are due 24 hours following the beginning of the simulation session being logged. Blank log sheets will be provided. Click here to view a sample. Your performance on the simulation will count for 20% of the course grade. Evaluation of your performance will be based on (a) the success of your candidate as measured by the percentage of total vote received, (b) peer evaluations from your fellow team-members, (c) the log sheets for which you were personally responsible, (d) your written analysis of the simulation, and (e) on my observations of the simulation as it unfolds. Click here for your End-of-Simulation Assignment.


Class Participation 10%
Independent Reading & Reporting 5%
Group Study & Report 20%
Campaign Research Assignment 15% + 15% + 15%
Campaign Management Simulation 20%


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

  1. to report what you read and to summarize its major points,
  2. to relate your selection to the assigned readings we have all done,
  3. to share the lessons you learned from the selection, and
  4. to answer questions from the other participants in the seminar.
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:

  1. the opportunity to learn from fellow students,
  2. the opportunity to refine your information retrieval skills,
  3. the opportunity to select from among a wide range of appropriate reading, and
  4. the opportunity to read primary research in political science and public policy.

Here are some hints to get you started:

  1. Learn to use the traditional and electronic research tools available in the Cole Library.
  2. Search out recently edited volumes that print or reprint significant articles in areas of interest to our course.
  3. Search out relevant texts which contain notes and/or bibliographies which can help you find relevant reading. Don't ignore the possibilities raised by the citations in our own text books.
  4. Try to select scholarship published since the 2000 elections unless the specific discussion topic is historical.
  5. Remember, it's not scholarship unless it has citations (parenthetical notes, footnotes or endnotes) and references (reference list, works cited or bibliography).


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.

Learning Objectives:

  • To explore together a scholarly monograph on an important topic in campaigns and elections.
  • To work effectively as part of a group in pursuit of a group goal.
  • To communicate your expertise effectively to the larger group.

How to Approach the Task:

  • Each of you should complete reading of the entire book prior to your first group meeting. You cannot make useful judgments about how to proceed in ignorance.
  • Once you all know the material, you should discuss what is important and how it might most successfully be presented. Remember that an effective presentation will require you to simplify, to summarize, and to repeat. Your audience can only learn so much. Make sure you know what are the most important things are that the audience should learn, and focus your attention on those things.
  • Once you have an overall plan, it's time to divide up responsibilities. Responsibility for both preparation and presentation should be apportioned in approximately equal shares among members of the group.
  • No one wants to listen to you--or to me for that matter--for 1.5 hours. Develop strategies to involve class members in their learning.
  • Don't forget to schedule a dress rehearsal early enough so that problems can be addressed before the class presentation.

Things to think about:

  • Your fellow students have not read the book upon which you are reporting. They are your target audience. It follows that you must take special care not to lose the forest among the trees.
    • Know what the major points are. Can you express the book's thesis in a few clear sentences? Can you reduce the book's substance to three to seven major lessons?
    • Emphasize the major points in the introduction, body, and conclusion of your report. In other words, preview the report at the beginning and review it at the end. "Tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em. Then tell 'em. Then tell 'em what you told 'em."
    • Reinforce the main points and important subordinate points with audiovisual aids wherever appropriate. The use of visual aids will materially affect the ability of your listeners to absorb the points you wish to communicate. We have the benefit of digital projection equipment suitable for PowerPoint presentations, among other things. Take advantage of the technology, but don't make the technology an end in itself. Make sure that the technology reinforces the substance of your presentation rather than distracting your audience from it.
    • Be extraordinarily careful about subordination. Does the listener understand why you are reporting what you are reporting? What's the big point to which this lesser point attaches?
  • Your presentation will obviously require some specialization and division of responsibility, but each member of the panel must have a comprehensive understanding of the the whole book, its parts, and how those parts are integrated. The best way to arrive at that understanding is to read and discuss the book in its entirety before any decisions are made about how to allocate responsibilities for the presentation.
  • Responsibility for both preparation and presentation should be apportioned in approximately equal shares among members of the group.
  • Class lasts about two hours. I am reserving the final 15 minutes for a class critique of the reporting panel. That leaves about 1:30 for your report and your responses to the questions of the class if you schedule a break. It follows that your presentation should not exceed an hour if questions are reserved for the end. It should not exceed 1:30 if question opportunities are integrated into the presentation.
  • Be prepared to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the volume on which you are reporting.
  • No one wants to listen to you -- or to me for that matter -- for an hour and a half. Develop strategies to involve class members in their learning.
  • The best way to know that you are properly prepared is to hold a dress rehearsal.

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.

Last Update: August 6, 2002
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