JUNIOR SEMINAR: Data and Elections

Spring 2024
Tues 10am-12pm
Course Description

How do we know how supportive the public is of a president, whether they support existing or new policies, or otherwise measure the pulse of the nation?  How do campaigns decide where to send volunteers, where to buy advertising, or who is most persuadable?  How can we determine the effect of audits or observers on electoral fraud?  This class will investigate how data is used by campaigns during elections, as well as how data is used to study the impact of campaigns and events on elections.  “Big data” is powerful and how to understand and best use data in decision-making is rooted in basic statistical principles.  This class will focus on three core concepts in statistical inference, descriptive, predictive, and causal inference.  We will study descriptive inference through survey sampling and measuring public opinion; predictive inference through how campaigns use statistical (“machine”) learning to allocate resources; and causal inference through experimental and observational studies of electoral fraud and fairness.  This course will include an intensive data analysis portion.  Based on skills we learn in this class, students will analyze surveys, build predictive models, and conduct and interpret data analyses using the R programming language.  Students will conduct their own original analysis in a final project.

Junior seminars fulfill upper division requirements for the major.

Subfield:   Methods


Political Science Majors of Junior and Senior Status.

Completion of PS3 or Data C8/PS88.

PS3 or Data C8/PS88 is a prerequisite for this class. Students who have not taken PS3 or Data C8/PS88 will not be admitted to PS191 Sec 003, without exception, since PS191 Sec 003 assumes familiarity of political science methods. 

We will be monitoring enrollment. If you have not taken PS3 or Data C8/PS88, you will be DROPPED.