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POLSC333: Campaigns and Elections

Unit 2: Campaigns, Elections and Voting Behavior   In this unit, you will take a look at one of the most important components of the election process: the voters. You will first study the internal and external factors that compel people to vote the way that they do. You will then examine voter turnout trends over time and learn how different types of elections and issues result in greater or lesser voter turnout; for example, such high-profile elections as presidential or gubernatorial elections tend to see greater turnout than local elections for city council do.  Lastly, you will look at why people do not vote as well as the issues that arise around voter disenfranchisement and barriers to voting—either intentionally or unintentionally—among certain groups.

Unit 2 Time Advisory
Time Advisory: This unit should take you approximately 13.25 hours to complete.

☐Subunit 2.1: 2.75 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 2.1.1: 2.5 hours
☐    Sub-subunit 2.1.2: 0.25 hour

☐    Subunit 2.2: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 2.3: 4.5 hours

☐     Introduction: 0.75 hour
☐     Sub-subunit 2.3.1: 3.25 hours
☐     Sub-subunit 2.3.2: 0.5 hour
☐     Subunit 2.4: 3 hours

Unit2 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to: - Describe the individual characteristics and motivations of the American voter. - Evaluate the role of party identification, issue preferences and partisanship on voter decision-making. - Explain the historic trends of voter turnout in the United States. - Discuss the factors associated with nonvoting. - Summarize the issues surrounding voter disenfranchisement.

2.1 Characteristics of the American Voter   2.1.1 Who Votes and Why?   - Reading: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: “Who Votes, Who Doesn’t, and Why” Link: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: “Who Votes, Who Doesn’t, and Why” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this entire webpage.

 Reading and answering the question above should take approximately
30 minutes to complete.  

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  • Reading: Brookings Institution Press: J. Celeste Jay, James Gimpel, and Jason Schuknecht's: Cultivating Democracy: Civic Environments and Political Socialization in America: “Becoming Political: Local Environments and Political Socialization” Link: Brookings Institution Press: J. Celeste Jay, James Gimpel, and Jason Schuknecht's: Cultivating Democracy: Civic Environments and Political Socialization in America: “Becoming Political: Local Environments and Political Socialization” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, then select the “Sample Chapter” link, and then read this entire PDF (43 pages).  While reading this chapter, think about how your own experiences have informed your political values and preferences.
     
    This reading should take approximately 2 hours to complete.  
     
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2.1.2 The Calculus of Voting   - Reading: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Bill Steigerwald's: “Why We Vote the Way We Do” Link: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Bill Steigerwald's: “Why We Vote the Way We Do” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read this entire webpage.
 
This reading should take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete.
 
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2.2 Voters and Partisanship   2.2.1 The Role of Party Identification   - Reading: Indiana University: Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis: Nichole Bauer's: “Sticking with It: How Loyalty Explains Political Party Identification” Link: Indiana University: Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis: Nichole Bauer's: “Sticking with It: How Loyalty Explains Political Party Identification” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please click the Bauer link under “Spring 2010,” and then read this entire PDF.  Compared to other factors, why is party identification such a strong predictor of how a person votes?

 Reading and answering the question above should take approximately
1 hour to complete.  
    
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  • Reading: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: “Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology” Link: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: “Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read this entire webpage about the increasing diversity of political ideologies among American people.
     
    This reading should take approximately 30 minutes to complete.
     
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2.2.2 Voter Issue Preferences   - Reading: Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Larry M. Bartels' “What’s the Matter with What’s the Matter with Kansas?” Link: Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Larry M. Bartels' “What’s the Matter with What’s the Matter with Kansas?” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, scroll down to the reading titled “What’s the Matter with What’s the Matter with Kansas?” APSA 2005 (the second Bartels reading), and then read this entire PDF (43 pages).  The central argument of this article is that the Republican party has forged a political coalition of working-class white voters who continue to support the party although it means voting against their own economic self-interest.  What flaws of this theory does Bartels point out in his critique?
 
Reading and answering this question should take approximately 2 hours to complete.
  
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2.3 Voter Turnout   - Reading: American University: Robert Stein, Jan Leighley, and Christopher Owens' : “Who Votes, Who Doesn’t, Why and, What Can Be Done?” Link: American University: Robert Stein, Jan Leighley, and Christopher Owens' : “Who Votes, Who Doesn’t, Why and, What Can Be Done?” (PDF)
 
Instructions: At the above webpage, click on the link to the PDF titled “Who Votes, Who Doesn’t, Why, and What Can Be Done?”  Please read the report in its entirety (15 pages).
 
This reading should take approximately 45 minutes to complete.  
 
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2.3.1 Historic Trends in Voter Turnout   - Reading: Fair Vote: The Center for Voting and Democracy: “Voter Turnout” Link: Fair Vote: The Center for Voting and Democracy: “Voter Turnout” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this entire webpage.  Why is voter turnout in presidential elections significantly higher than in midterm elections?

 Reading and answering the question above should take approximately
30 minutes to complete.  
    
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  • Reading: Information Please: “National Voter Turnout in Federal Elections: 1960–2008” Link: Information Please: “National Voter Turnout in Federal Elections: 1960–2008” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please view this chart, which provides historical voting data, including age of voting population, voter registration, and turnout.  The largest voter turnouts (above 60%) for presidential elections all occurred in the 1960s.  Why do you think this was the case?
     
    You should spend approximately 15 minutes studying this resource and answering the question above.
     
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  • Reading: University of Michigan: Michael McDonald and Sam Popkin's: “The Myth of the Vanishing Voter” Link: University of Michigan: Michael McDonald and Sam Popkin's: “The Myth of the Vanishing Voter” (PDF).
     
    Instructions: At the above webpage, click on the first link to “The Myth of the Vanishing Voter.”  Please read the paper in its entirety (46 pages).  According to the authors, why does it appear as if voting turnout has declined so dramatically in recent years?  Is this apparent trend a real trend or a statistical artifact?
     
    Reading and answering the questions above should take approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete.
     
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  • Reading: Nonprofit VOTE: George Pillsbury and Julian Johannesen: “America Goes to the Polls 2010: A Report on Voter Turnout in the 2010 Election” Link: Nonprofit VOTE: George Pillsbury and Julian Johannesen: “America Goes to the Polls 2010: A Report on Voter Turnout in the 2010 Election” (PDF)

    Instructions: Go to the above webpage and click on “Download the PDF” at the bottom of the report’s summary to access the PDF of the report.  Read it in its entirety (21 pages).  In your opinion, which results were most surprising about voting trends in the 2010 midterm election?

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2.3.2 Election Type, Competitiveness and Level: Degrees of Variation in Voter Turnout   - Reading: The Pew Center on the States: “Demand for Democracy” Link: The Pew Center on the States: “Demand for Democracy” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read this entire webpage.
 
This reading should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.
 
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  • Reading: ThePolity.net: David Hill's: “Age, Race, Ethnicity, and Electoral Competition in the 2008 Election” Link: ThePolity.net: David Hill's: “Age, Race, Ethnicity, and Electoral Competition in the 2008 Election” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read this entire webpage.
     
    This reading should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.
      
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2.4 Obstacles to Voting   2.4.1 Why People Do Not Vote   - Reading: George Mason University: History News Network: Thomas L. Patterson's: “Where Have All the Voters Gone?” Link: George Mason University: History News Network: Thomas L. Patterson’s “Where Have All the Voters Gone?” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read all five parts to this series, which outlines the factors behind voter apathy.  Note that many of the critiques of American political behavior in part 1 are also attributable to the factors identified in the Popkin and McDonald reading above.  How can we reconcile the two points of view?
 
This reading should take approximately 30 minutes to complete.
  
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2.4.2 Voter Disenfranchisement   - Web Media: PBS NOW: “Block the Vote” Link: PBS NOW: “Block the Vote” (Quicktime, Real Player, or Windows Media)
 
Instructions: Please watch this entire video (approximately 27 minutes), which looks at election law and its adverse impact among minorities, the poor, and the disabled.
 
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  • Reading: Brennan Center for Justice: Erika Wood's: “Restoring the Right to Vote” Link: Brennan Center for Justice: Erika Wood's: “Restoring the Right to Vote” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, select the “Click Here to Download PDF of Publication” link, and then read this entire PDF (36 pages) about felony disenfranchisement in the United States.  Is prohibiting ex-felons from voting a good idea?  Why, or why not?
     
    Reading and answering the questions above should take approximately 2 hours to complete.
      
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