U.S. Presidential Elections
Political Science 390Q/Law and Public Service 401D
Professor Andrew Rudalevige
Denny Hall 305 (245-1716; email@example.com)
Office Hours: TBA and by appointment
This course explores the dynamics of American presidential elections from 1787 to the upcoming race in 2004, with a focus on the electoral laws and institutions that shape candidate strategy and voter behavior. Topics of note include the electoral college, primary elections and nominations, campaign finance law, voter registration and turnout, the components of voting decisions, and the role of political parties and the media in contemporary elections.
The bulk of required readings will come from the books below, available in the Dickinson College bookstore and elsewhere. Other occasional readings may be found on-line, either through the library’s “Blackboard” on-line reserve system or via links on the course homepage above. A number of useful websites relevant to presidential elections can be accessed here as well.
Finally, you MUST keep up to date with election events via a national newspaper (the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.). Some useful links are here.
James Ceaser, Presidential Selection (Princeton, 1979)
Richard Ben Cramer, What It Takes (Vintage, 1992)
Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter, Robert H. Michel, and Lloyd N. Cutler, co-chairs,
Report of the National Commission on Federal Election Reform (Brookings, 2002)
William Mayer, ed., The Making of the Presidential Candidates 2004 (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003)
Stephen J. Wayne, The Road to the White House 2004 (Wadsworth, 2002)
Martin Wattenberg, Where Have All the Voters Gone? (Harvard, 2002)
Additionally, you might want this useful compendium of reference information, though it will not contain required reading:
Jerome Levin (ed.), Presidential Elections, 1789-2000 (CQ Press, 2002)
• Attendance and participation (25%). Each student will be responsible for taking the lead in discussion in one class session (excluding off-site sessions). This means preparing discussion questions and leading your classmates through the issues raised by the readings that week. The fact that it is not “your” week, of course, does not exempt you from being prepared for class. If you cannot be present for a given class session please notify me in advance.
• Short response papers and questions for outside speakers (25%). Discussion topics will be distributed in advance of each class session, along with a question to which students should respond using the readings in a brief (≈2 pages) essay. For sessions involving outside speakers, this will normally incorporate developing questions, based on the readings, for those speakers. You may “pass” on three weeks during the semester (thus you will write ten response papers during the semester; if you write more than ten only the top ten will be included in your grade). Papers are due by 10 a.m. the day of class. For more details see here.
paper (50%). This 18-20 page paper will research an approved aspect
of presidential elections. This is a very open topic, obviously, and you
should start thinking about it early in the semester. While you do not need
to do primary research you do need a clear hypothesis (or more than one)
grounded in theory, appropriate means for testing that hypothesis, and relevant
data for conducting that test. Each member of the class will provide a
5-7 minute presentation on their topic in class at the end of the semester.
DUE MAY 18, at 5 p.m.
As ever, you are responsible for correct quotation and citation in your written work. Plagiarism is never acceptable and will be sanctioned severely.
Schedule of Topics and Readings (subject to change, with notice; (*) indicates on-line source)
January 27. Introduction and Overview.
Wayne, Ch. 1
Cramer, Author’s Note
February 3. The Electoral College and its Alternatives.
(*) U.S. Constitution, especially Article II and Amendments XII, XX, XXIII, XXV
Ford/Carter, Ch. II
Robert Dudley and Alan Gitelson, American Elections: The Rules Matter, Ch. 6
February 10. Nominations, Part I: The Rise of Parties.
Review Wayne, Ch. 1
Ceaser, Ch. 1-4
February 17. Nominations, Part II: The Rise of Primary Elections.
Ceaser, Ch. 5-6
Mayer, Ch. 1
Cramer, Ch. 1-9
February 24. Nominations, Part III: The Contemporary Selection Process
(*) Jennifer Lee, “Out of Town Tryouts for the West Wing,” New York Times (16 Nov. 2003)
(*) Todd Purdum, “Carter Put It On the Map,” New York Times (19 Jan. 2004)
Wayne, Ch. 4-5
Mayer, Ch. 3, 4, 6, 8
Cramer, Ch. 10-18
Larry Bartels, Presidential Primaries and the Dynamics of Public Choice (1988)
Nelson Polsby, Consequences of Party Reform (1983)
Scott Keeter & Cliff Zukin, Uninformed Choice: The Failure of the New Presidential
Nominating System (1983)
March 2. Campaign Finance.
Wayne, Ch. 2
Mayer, Ch. 2
(*) Buckley v. Valeo (1976)
al. v. Federal Election Commission (2003) - read the syllabus closely,
skim the main opinion and the dissents; read closely the
excerpts from the decision found here
[A useful short summary of McConnell may be found here]
(*) Eliza Carney, et al., “The New Rules of the Game,” National Journal (20 Dec. 2003)
Clifford Brown et al., Serious Money: Fundraising and Contributing in Presidential
Nomination Campaigns (1995)
Malbin, ed., Life after Reform (2003)
March 9. Election Law.
Carter/Ford, 119-216, 219-73, 339-53
Bush v. Gore
Cramer, Ch. 19-37
March 16. Spring break.
March 23. Contemporary Parties
(*) Nelson Polsby, The Consequences of Party Reform, Ch. 2 (esp. pp. 64-81)
Marty Cohen et al., “Beating
Reform: The Resurgence of Parties in Presidential Nominations,”
paper presented to the American Political Science Association, 2001
Cramer, Ch. 38-49
David Mayhew, Electoral Realignments (2002)
Byron Shafer, Bifurcated Politics: Evolution and Reform in the National Party Convention (1988)
March 30. Who Votes?
Ford/Carter, Ch. IV
(*) Ruy Teixeira, The Disappearing American Voter, pp. 81-105
(*) George Will, "Voting Blocks," Washington Post (Sept. 5, 1991)
Cramer, Ch. 50-70
April 6. Voting: Components of the Voting Decision.
Wayne, Ch. 3, 8
D. Sunshine Hillygus and Simon Jackman, “Voter Decision Making in
American Journal of Political Science 47 (October 2003): 583-96.
[This article can be accessed using the FirstSearch database via the Library's website. You can also get there using the "e-journal finder" selection on the Research Corner link on the library homepage.]
(*) Christopher Wlezien, “On Forecasting the Presidential Vote,” PS: Political Science and Politics (March 2001)
Cramer, Ch. 71-101
Rebecca Morton and Kenneth Williams, Learning by Voting (2001)
April 13. Organization, Strategy and Tactics.
Wayne, Ch. 6
(*) Joshua Green, “In Search of the Elusive Swing Voter,” The Atlantic (Jan./Feb. 2004)
(*) James Campbell, The American Campaign (Texas A&M, 2000), Ch. 9
Cramer, Ch. 102-end.
April 20. The Role of the Media
Wayne, Ch. 7
(*) Thomas Patterson, Out of Order, prologue and Ch. 1
Mayer, Ch. 7
(*) Matt Bai, “Going Deep with Iowa’s Meta-Voters,” New York Times Magazine
(18 January 2004)
Cramer, review Ch. 19-37 (especially 26, 31-37)
CNN's Bill Schneider, originally scheduled for April 24, will be RESCHEDULED -- watch this space...
April 27. Pennsylvania Primary Day.
Events TBA. Catch up on Cramer.
May 4. Does it Work? Critiques and Reforms.
Ford/Carter, pp. 5-95
(*) “Fixing Democracy,”
New York Times editorial board, 18 January 2004.
(*) Paul Krugman, "Democracy at Risk," New York Times, 23 January 2004
nb: link to fact sheet on the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003 (H.R. 2239)
Wayne, Ch. 9
(*) Robert Dahl, “The Myth of the Presidential Mandate,” Political Science Quarterly 105
(Autumn 1990): 355-72.
Final Paper due May 18