Electoral Behavior and Public Opinion

Spring 2012
Course Description

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 that 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   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, which is also being offered in Spring semester.

Please note  that due to the similarity between this course and PS 161, if
you have already taken PS 161, with either Professor Citrin or Shanks, you will NOT be able to take this course. If you are enrolled in PS 161 next semester with Professor Citrin, you will NOT be able to take both 161 and 169, again due to the topic similarity.


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 PS 3 are therefore prerequisites for the course.