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Campaigns and Elections

POL 232W

Campaigns and Elections

POL 232W

Course Description

Prerequisite: READING LEVEL 2 or WRITING LEVEL 2. Examines state and local, congressional, and presidential campaigns. Emphasizes electoral rules; campaign organization and finance; candidate strategy; role of parties, interest groups, and media; campaign effects; and proposals for reform. (This course satisfies the American Government/Foundational Civics graduation requirement in all curricula.) (45-0)

Outcomes and Objectives

Demonstrate an understanding of the role of campaigns and elections in democracy.

Objectives:

  • Examine why elections are essential to the democratic process.
  • Evaluate the roles of masses and elites in the campaign and election processes.
  • Define how parties, interest groups and the media connect citizens to government institutions, through the election process.
  • Describe the role of elections as linkage institutions, in that they work to get individuals’ concerns on the public agenda.

Define the process and institutions involved in American campaigns.

Objectives:

  • Cite the development of political parities through American history and summarize their role in the current campaign and election processes.
  • Detail the organizational structure of political parties.
  • Identify the differences between political parties and interest groups, and compare and contrast their roles in the election process.
  • Measure the strength and weakness of parties in the modern campaigns.
  • Summarize the role of news media and the campaign’s paid media in campaigns and their influence on the electorate.

Evaluate strategies employed by candidates to win campaigns.

Objectives:

  • Assess the role of emotion in campaign appeals.
  • Appraise candidate quality and the roles of party recruitment and candidate ambition.
  • Categorize key roles and professional expertise in campaigns.
  • Identify the roll of public opinion polling in campaign appeals.
  • Evaluate positive and negative campaign advertising and assess its impact on the electorate.
  • Discuss the influence of changing technology on fund raising and campaigning.
  • Identify how the presidential nomination process and Electoral College determine campaign strategy in presidential elections.

Demonstrate an understanding of the operation of American elections.

Objectives:

  • List the steps in State and Local, Congressional and Presidential elections.
  • Describe electoral laws, unequal access to resources and constitutional structures that limit electoral competition.
  • Review the failure of third parities to win elections.
  • Investigate proposals for increasing electoral competition.

Demonstrate an understanding of how and why Americans vote (or not), how their partisan choices are formed and how this shapes campaigns.

Objectives:

  • Trace how the right to vote in the United States has gradually expanded over a period of time.
  • Analyze theories of voting behavior and partisanship formation.
  • Assess the influence of public opinion and the limitations of polling.
  • Debate alternatives for increasing voter turnout.

Explain weaknesses in the American electoral system and formulate potential reforms.

Objectives:

  • Explain what role money plays in elections, distinguish between the effects of soft money and hard money in political campaigns.
  • Identify incumbent advantages and the influence of gerrymandering.
  • Explore alternative electoral, campaign and finance systems.

Evaluate responsible Party government.

Objectives:

  • Determine the party’s role in organizing Congress.
  • Observe the party’s influence on Congressional behavior.
  • Evaluate the President’s influence as party leader.

Write effectively for a specific audience and purpose.

Objectives:

  • Analyze course content in written form.
  • Explain the subject matter in a coherent writing style.
  • Analyze and evaluate theories, positions, viewpoints, and ideas.
  • Distinguish strong from weak arguments.
  • Evaluate the credibility of sources of information.

Utilize writing to promote learning about campaigns and elections.