This course deals with the ways in which individual citizens may have an impact on American politics through the electoral process. The course will therefore focus on the political opinions and behavior of citizens as reflected in cross-section surveys of the national adult population, rather than studies of elected officials or other political elites. Special attention will be paid to the role of partisan identification and policy-related preferences in presidential elections, to the distribution and origins of public opinion on important political issues, and to the determinants of electoral participation or turnout.
In previous years, this course in electoral behavior was offered as one of two alternative versions of PS 161, the department’s core undergraduate course in political behavior. This year, however, it is being offered as PS 169, in order to avoid confusion with the other version of PS 161.
There will be two lectures weekly and some additional discussions in smaller groups. Those smaller group sessions will sometimes be held in the teaching lab operated by the Data Laboratory (in the basement of Barrows Hall), where students will carry out their own computer-based analyses. Grades will be determined by a final examination and several quizzes and exercises, as well as participation in class discussions.
This is an advanced course in two respects, for it presupposes both a basic knowledge of the American political system and a familiarity with political inquiry based on quantitative evidence of the sort provided by modern survey research. Both a course in American Politics and at least one course in statistics or quantitative methods beyond PS3 are therefore prerequisites for the course.