Does American democracy produce governments that reflect the public will? Does it favor competent leaders over incompetent ones? This class introduces students to recent research on theses questions, focusing on electoral politics. It explores topics such as citizens' ability to judge politicians, whether elected leaders represent their consituents' interests, and the degree to which public officials exploit their power to aid their reelection bids. We critically examine evidence that voters judge candidates based on superficial traits, such as their faces, that they are duped into voting against their economic interest by wedge issues, such as abortion and gay marriage, and that they are shortsighted, usually remembering only recent successes and failures by their political leaders. Through reading, writing, and orginal experiments, students learn to rigorously conduct research about politics, to evaluate others' research, and to understand the statistical tools used to study Americann government.
The Junior Seminars are intense writing seminars which focus on the research area of the faculty member teaching the course. The seminars provide an opportunity for students to have direct intellectual interactions with faculty members while also giving the students an understanding for faculty research. Junior seminars fulfill upper-DIV requirements in the major.
Subfield: American Politics
Political Science Majors of Junior and Senior status, with a minimum overall GPA of 3.3. Students must place themselves on the waitlist through TeleBEARS in Phase II. Selection and notification will occur around January 9, 2012.