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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Fall 2009

GOV 370L • Election Campaigns - W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
39300 MW
3:00 PM-4:30 PM
WAG 308
Luskin, R

Course Description

This course comes in four intermingled parts. The bulk of our meetings will be as a seminar, meaning that we, not I, shall discuss the readings (see below). The next largest share of our meetings will be devoted to a computer simulation of a U.S. Senate election. Your candidate may make personal appearances, produce and air campaign commercials, make appeals by direct mail, fund-raise, conduct polls, and so on, and the outcome will depend on the choices you and your opponents make. Another few sessions will be given over to guest panelists who have been involved in election campaigns in one capacity or another. And, finally, since this is a Writing Component course, two sessions will be devoted to a practicum on writing. This semester's panelists have not yet been slated, but by way of example past panelists have included State Representatives Tom Craddick (now Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives), Henry Cuellar, and Todd Hunter; Justice Bob Gammage, late of the Texas Supreme Court and before that a U.S. Congressman; Bernard Rapoport, a longtime Democratic activist and fundraiser (and former Chair of the UT Board of Regents); Royal Masset, Political Director of the Republican Party of Texas; Dave MacNeely, a journalist covering state and national politics for the Austin-American Statesman; William P. Hobby, the former Lieutenant Governor; Susan Hendrix of H & C Media, a Democratic media consultant; Dean Rindy of Rindy Media, another Democratic media consultant; David Weeks of Media Southwest, a Republican media consultant; Blaine Bull of Public Strategies, Inc., then a Democratic consulting firm; Matthew Dowd, then of Public Strategies, Inc., but more recently of the Bush 2000 and 2004 campaigns and Bush administration. and now a prominent national political commentator; Bill Emery and Peck Young of Emery and Young, a Democratic consulting firm; Dan Bartlett, a spokesman for Governor Bush and the Bush 2000 campaign (and an alumnus of this course), later Communications Director in the Bush White House; and Karl Rove, then of Karl Rove & Company, a Republican consulting firm, more recently the chief political strategist for the Bush 2000 and 2004 campaigns and Counselor to President Bush), and now (does anyone not know all this?) a prominent national political commentator.

This is also a writing component course (hence the assignment of Strunk and White and "Robert's Rules"). There will be no exams, but a great deal of reading, and you will be required to write three papers drawing on the readings. The first, of five to six pages, will be about how the characteristics of the electorate affect the nature, strategies, and outcomes of election campaigns. The second, also of five to six pages, will be about the ways in which your experiences in the simulation illustrate or fail to capture the realities Senate elections. The third, of six to seven pages, will be a book review. In keeping with the new College rules, (slightly) more than half your grade will be based on your writing.

Grading Policy

Your grade will be determined on the basis of your class participation and papers. Class participation will count for 25% (15% for attendance/discussion and 10% for effort in the simulations), and the papers for 25% each. The papers will be graded 60% on content and 40% on writing. Note that the content grade rests heavily on your making generous, appropriate, and sensible use of the assigned readings. Attendance is required, and there is a penalty (in the participation grade) for every unexcused absence beyond a quota of two. There will be bonuses of three points (on the standard 100-point scale) in the simulation grade for members of teams that win the simulated election and further small bonuses, also in the simulation grade, for members of teams that do much better than other teams of the same party. The attendance/discussion grade is based on my overall impression of the quality and quantity of your participation, adjusted downward for excessive absences.

The reading load is unusually heavy, and I do sometimes ask students about their reactions to the readings. So, even though the three papers are the only written assignments, and there are no exams, this is not a course for the faint-hearted. Be warned! It will be a lot of work. But also a lot of fun.


Herbert B. Asher. 2007. Polling and the Public: What Every Citizen Should Know (7th ed.). Washington, DC: CQ Press. Robert S. Erikson and Kent L. Tedin. 2004. American Public Opinion (7th ed.). New York, NY: Longman. Paul S. Herrnson. 2007. Congressional Elections: Campaigning at Home and in Washington (5th ed.). Washington, DC: CQ Press. Costas Panagopoulos (ed.). 2009. Politicking Online:The Transformation of Election Campaign Communications. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. William H. Flanagan and Nancy Zingale. 2005. Political Behavior of the American Electorate (11th ed.). Washington, DC: CQ Press. Donald P. Green and Alan S. Gerber. 2008. Get Out the Vote: How to Increase Voter Turnout (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: Brookings. Kim Fridkin Kahn and Patrick Kenney. 2003. No Holds Barred: Negativity in United States Senate Campaigns. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Daniel M. Shea and Michael John Burton. 2006. Campaign Craft: The Strategies, Tactics, and Art of Political Campaign Management (3rd ed.). Westport, CT: Praeger. James A. Thurber and Candice J. Nelson (eds.). 2004. Campaigns and Elections American Style (3rd ed.) Boulder, CO: Westview. Stephen J. Wayne. 2007. The Road to the White House 2008. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Darrell M. West. 2009. Air Wars: Television Advertising in Election Campaigns 1952-2008 (5th ed.). Washington, DC: CQ Press. Jules Witcover. 2001. No Way to Pick a President: How Money and Hired Guns Have Debased American Elections. New York: Routledge. William Strunk, Jr., and E.B. White. 1995. The Elements of Style (3rd ed.). New York: Allyn and Bacon. Course packet, consisting of On the Campaign Trail (a manual to the simulation that also contains a great deal of information about real-world campaigns) and Robert's Rules (a guide to writing).


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