American election campaigns pol 317

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Political Science 317 Prof. Helmut Norpoth

Fall 2011 Dept. of Political Science

Tu Th 9:50-11:10 AM Office: SBS N-731

Javits Lecture Center 111 Phone: 632-7640

Hours: Tu W 2-3:30 PM

POL 317 focuses on presidential elections. Topics include the rules of presidential selection from primaries, caucuses, and conventions all the way to the Electoral College; the strategies of election campaigning; the use of the mass media by presidential candidates, televised debates as well as media coverage of election campaigns; and the financing of campaigns. This semester the course pays special attention to the on-going campaigns for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
Advisory Prerequisite: POL 102 or 105.
Teaching Assistant: Drew Levine, SBS S-718,

Required Readings (in stock at the Campus Bookstore):
Balz, Dan, and Haynes Johnson, The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary

Election, New York: Viking, 2009.
Jamieson, Kathleen Hall (ed.), Electing the President 2008: The Insiders’ View.

Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009.

In addition, you are responsible for readings placed on Blackboard (BB), as listed on the reading assignments below, unless flagged as “optional.” Warning: there is quite a lot of stuff on BB.

Write papers on these topics:
(1) How did Obama or McCain (pick one) win his party’s nomination in 2008? — due Sep. 27.
This paper must cover the class readings for PRIMARY CONTESTS and WINNING THE NOMINATION. Other material should be used sparingly, and if used at all, must be properly acknowledged.
(2) Who will win the Republican nomination for President in 2012? — due Nov. 17.
Your prediction must be based, in part, on models, patterns, and past cases of nomination politics covered in class. It must, of course, also include information about the campaigns of candidates in the 2012 race. Use major news organizations and campaign sites on the web. Beware of wishful thinking, whimsy, cheerleading, and pure fantasy.
In these papers, make sure to refer to material used for your research frequently throughout your paper. No footnotes are needed, but use references in parentheses with page numbers. For example, say (Balz & Johnson, 157) if you refer to something in the Balz & Johnson book on page 157. Anything used verbatim must be put in quotation marks (“…”). Provide a full reference to these and other works cited at the end of your paper. Copying without quotation marks or paraphrasing without acknowledgement from someone else’s writing constitutes “plagiarism.” (See note on Academic Integrity below.)
Each of these papers should be 1,800 words long (no less, and not a lot more). Hard copies are due on the dates stated above. In an emergency, you may email me the paper to meet the deadline. In that case, keep a copy of the acknowledgement that I received the emailed copy. Late submissions will be penalized at the rate of half a grade for each day late.
In addition to content, your papers will be judged on the quality of writing (spelling, punctuation, grammar, syntax, proper word usage, logic, organization, clarity, and liveliness). Do not rely blindly on automated checking programs. Read a draft out loud to yourself or a friend. Remember you are writing to impress the reader. Make it compelling, clear and interesting.
You may submit the papers for this course to satisfy the writing requirement.
There will be a midterm and a final examination, each consisting of short-essay and multiple-choice questions. The final covers only the post-midterm portion of the course agenda. Review guides will be handed out and discussed before each exam.

In the event that you are unable to take an exam you must contact me before the start of the exam. Make-ups will be allowed only under conditions beyond your control.

Grading Your course grade will be determined based on the following weights:
Papers (2) 40%

Midterm Exam 20%

Final Exam 25%

Participation 15%

Extra Credit: You may earn extra credit by participating in studies conducted by faculty and doctoral students in the Department. There may be other opportunities as well.
Disability Notice: If you have a physical, psychological, medical or learning disability that may impact your course work, please contact Disability Support Services, 128 ECC Building (632-6748). They will determine with you what accommodations are necessary and appropriate. All of this is confidential.
Academic Integrity: Each student must pursue his or her academic goals honestly and be personally accountable for all submitted work. Representing another person's work as your own is always wrong. Any suspected instance of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Academic Judiciary.


Critical Incident Management: Stony Brook University expects students to respect the rights, privileges, and property of other people. Faculty are required to report to the Office of Judicial Affairs any disruptive behavior that interrupts their ability to teach, compromises the safety of the learning environment, or inhibits students' ability to learn.

Lecture Topics and Reading Assignments


Helpful websites for election and polling data, campaign information, analysis, political commentary, and projections:
Sep. 1 Recount (HBO movie about the 2000 election)

Sep. 6, 8, 13 ELECTION RULES

Electoral College in Constitution (BB)

Gaines, Popular Myths (in Electoral College BB document)

Mebane, The Wrong Man is President (BB)

Florida Recount by Media (BB) — optional

McCain v. Obama--2008 Election Dispute, Mock Case (BB) — optional

Sep. 15, 20, 22 , 27 PRIMARY CONTESTS

Presidential Primaries (BB)

Delegate Selection Rules --Presidential Nomination (BB)

Iowa Caucuses 2008 (BB)

Balz & Johnson, ch. 5-16

Sep. 27 *** 1st Paper Assignment due ***

Sep. 29 *** no class (Rosh Hashanah) ***


Bartels, Momentum Triumphant (BB)

Mayer, Forecasting Presidential Nominations (BB)

Balz & Johnson, ch. 17-22

Nomination 2008 --Primary Results, Money & Polls (BB)

Norpoth & Perkins, War and Momentum (BB)

Oct. 13 *** Midterm Exam ***


Downs, Economic Theory of Democracy (BB)

Stokes and DeIulio, Valence Politics (BB)

Holbrook, The Whistle-Stop Campaign (BB)

Jamieson, Electing the President 2008, ch. 2-3

Balz & Johnson, ch. 23-26

Jamieson, Electing the President 2008, ch. 1

Balz & Johnson, ch. 27-30

Jamieson, Electing the President 2008, ch. 5


Druckman, 1960 Debates (BB)

Debates 2008--Polls (BB)

Debates 2004—Polls (BB)

Debates and the Horserace, 1960-2004 (BB)
Nov. 17 *** 2nd Paper Assignment due ***


Jamieson, Electing the President 2008, ch. 6

PEW Study of Media Coverage 2008 (BB)

Journeys with George (a 2000 campaign documentary)

Nov. 24 *** no class (Thanksgiving) ***

Jamieson, Electing the President 2008, ch. 4 & 7

Dec. 8 PREDICTIONS FOR 2012 (Class Presentations)

Dec. 14 (Wed.) ***Final Examination 11:15-1:00 PM ***

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