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

Fall 2004

GOV 370L • Presidential Electoral Politics

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
37486 MWF
10:00 AM-11:00 AM
BUR 108

Course Description

Course number may be repeated for credit when topics vary.

The goal of this course is, narrowly, to examine the inputs of the presidential selection process and use of knowledge of these inputs to to evaluate how voters make decisions. More broadly, this course offers a starting point for evaluating how well our presidential election practice selects good leaders in a money-driven political system. In presidential elections alone the majority of American citizens can simutaneously express their opinion about the direction of national public policy in the United States. Often, leaders of the winning party interpret the results of a presidential elections as the people's mandate for one set of policies or another, while the defeated downplay the election's significance. Who should we believe? What goes into the selection of the only elected official responsible for the entire electorate? Because presidential elections express public opinion and because public opinion in turn is a key resource both for studying elections and waging election campaigns, in the first part of the course we will examine the relationships of public opinion and polling with presidential elections. Next we will turn to the nuts and bolts of presidential election campaigns in the contemporary era. We will focus on theories of voting in presidential elections, in both the general election and the primaries. We will also examine topics such as candidate behavior, voter participation, voter information, independent and third parties, and the media's role in the Presidential election process. Finally, in the last part of the course, we will put presidential election politics in a larger historical and systematic perspective.

Grading Policy

Report (Comparing Presidential Elections): 30% Midterm Exam: 30% Final Exam: 30% Instructor Discretion (Attendance, Participation, etc.): 10%


Asher, Herbert. 2001. Polling and the Public: What Every Citizen Should Know, 5th ed. Washington: CQ Press. Abramson, Paul R., John H. Aldrich, and David W. Rohde. 2002. Change and Continuity in the 2000 Elections. Washington: CQ Press. Lichtman, Allan J. 2000. The Keys to the White House: A Surefire Guide to Predicting the Next President. Maryland: Lexington Books.


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