Modern American Political Campaigns

How do political campaigns work? Who gets elected? How do people really get elected? What are the functions of the various consultants, the media and the candidate in a campaign?

This course will examine how political campaigns are conducted, analyzed, and covered. We will look at why campaigns operate the way they do, and the implications for our political system. The course will discuss the role of money in politics, the impact of race and the nature and impact of advertising. Furthermore, we will analyze how polls serve as campaign tools and affect the campaign agenda and press coverage. Also, we will analyze the changing nature of the media's role and how people make their political decisions. We will be concerned with how voter choices are affected by campaigns, and the selection of issues and messages and their delivery. Finally, we will examine current campaign issues such as: the impact of independent expenditures, focus groups, push-polls and the internet.

This course will be extremely participatory, and students must read the assignments in advance and attend weekly classes. Students will be expected to come to class prepared to participate, question, and conduct informed discussions. Classes will consist of discussions, case studies, lectures and presentations by guest speakers. We will be joined by a number of guests who have been active in state and national campaigns, both Democratic and Republican, for what I hope will be lively and informed discussions.

Students will be evaluated based on class participation, a written memo, a mid-term essay and an end of term group project with a presentation. The end of term group project and presentation will be an actual campaign plan written as a term paper and presented to the class.