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POLSC333: Campaigns and Elections

Unit 4: Campaigns, Political Parties, and Interest Groups   There are many factors that impact political campaigns in America.  In this unit, you will learn how political parties and interest groups shape the electoral landscape by influencing candidates and voters.  You will first focus on the role of political parties in elections, learning how parties have influenced elections in the past and in the present.  You will also discover how the American political system maintains a strong two-party system (i.e., a system of Democrats and Republicans) and makes it difficult for a third party to gain prominence.  Next, you will focus on interest groups, learning how they impact campaigns, candidates, and voters.

Unit 4 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 14.25 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 4.1: 8.75 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 4.1.1: 4 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 4.1.2: 1.75 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 4.1.3: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 4.2: 5.5 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 4.2.1: 1 hour

☐    Sub-subunit 4.2.2: 0.75 hour

☐    Sub-subunit 4.2.3: 3.75 hours

Unit4 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Discuss the historic role of political parties in elections. - Explain the role of political parties in recruiting and nominating candidates. - Describe the evolution of the American two-party system. - Describe the factors preventing third parties from successfully competing for governing power. - Assess the role of interest groups and political action committees (PACs) in influencing elections. - Evaluate the impact of electioneering, issue advocacy, and the emergence of 527 groups in contemporary elections.

4.1 The Role of Political Parties   4.1.1 Historic Role of Parties in Elections   - Reading: Living the Dream: “Studying the Founders Series: The Evolution of Political Parties” Link: Living the Dream: “Studying the Founders Series: The Evolution of Political Parties” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read this entire webpage.  Note that even though the webpage indicates that the reading consists of a six-part series, the entire text is available at the above URL.  When reading this article, think about why the founding fathers were fearful of political parties and how they were able to flourish in early America despite this opposition.
 
Reading and note-taking should take approximately 2 hours to complete.
  
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Net Places: “Political Parties” Link: Net Places: “Political Parties” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click all six links at the top of the page, and then read these entire webpages, which will provide you with a good primer in understanding the important roles that parties play in American electoral politics. 

    This reading should take approximately 2 hours to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

4.1.2 Parties: Candidate Recruitment, Nominations, and Support   - Web Media: Annenberg Foundation: Democracy in America: “Political Parties: Mobilizing Agents” Link: Annenberg Foundation: Democracy in America: “Political Parties: Mobilizing Agents” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, scroll down to #12, and then click the “VoD” icon to listen to this entire video (approximately 28 minutes).  This program shows how political parties perform important functions that link the public to the institutions of American government. 
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: National Journal: Josh Kraushaar's: “Democrats’ Diversity Problem” Link: National Journal: Josh Kraushaar's: “Democrats’ Diversity Problem” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read this entire webpage.  

    This reading should take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Mother Jones: David Corn's: “The Hardest Job in Washington” Link: Mother Jones: David Corn's: “The Hardest Job in Washington” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read this entire webpage.  This article profiles Jon Vogel, the executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee—the fundraising arm of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    This reading should take approximately 30 minutes to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Roll Call: Politics: Jessica Brady's: “Groups Seek 2012 Repeat of ‘Year of the Woman’” Link: Roll Call: Politics: Jessica Brady's: “Groups Seek 2012 Repeat of ‘Year of the Woman’” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read this entire webpage.  Consider the political and policy factors that have enabled women, in certain years, to increase their numbers in Congress.
     
    Reading and answering the prompt above for consideration should take approximately 30 minute to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

4.1.3 The Two-Party System and the Challenges for a Third-Party Candidate   - Web Media: Bloomberg TV: Intelligence Squared: “Is the Two-Party System Making America Ungovernable?” Link: Bloomberg TV: Intelligence Squared: “Is the Two-Party System Making America Ungovernable?” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: Please watch this entire video, which is a panel debate with political and media experts on the two-party system of governance, arguing against and in favor of the current system.  Which side presents the more convincing argument?

 Viewing this lecture and taking notes should take approximately 2
hours to complete.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Assessment: The Saylor Foundation's "Comparing Political Parties" Link: The Saylor Foundation's "Comparing Political Parties" (PDF)

    Instructions: Please complete the linked assessment to help in your understanding of the political philosophies of the two major U.S. political parties. 

    You should dedicate approximately 1 hour to complete this assessment.

    When you are done, please check your work against The Saylor Foundation's “Guide to Responding: Comparing Political Parties Assessment." (PDF)

4.2 The Role of Interest Groups   4.2.1 Evolution of Interest Groups and Their Impact on Elections   - Reading: Sparknotes: “Interest Groups” Link: Sparknotes: “Interest Groups” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the overview as well as all five subtopics under “Interest Groups.”  Thousands of interest groups exist in the United States.  Although they vary in size, ideology, purpose, and strategies, they all have the same goal: to influence government in a way that is beneficial to their membership.

 This reading should take approximately 1 hour to complete.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

4.2.2 Interest Group Campaign Activities and Support   - Reading: USA Today: Frederka Schouten's: “Incumbents Attract Late Primary Donations from Special Interest Groups” Link: USA Today: Frederka Schouten's: “Incumbents Attract Late Primary Donations from Special Interest Groups” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read this entire webpage. 

 This reading should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Politics Daily: Sandra Fish's: “Interest Group Spending on Campaigns Setting Records in 2010” Link: Politics Daily: Politics Daily: Sandra Fish's: “Interest Group Spending on Campaigns Setting Records in 2010” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read this entire webpage. 

    This reading should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Democracy in Action’s “Active at Every Stage” Link: Democracy in Action’s “Active at Every Stage” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the entire article on how organized interests and well-organized individuals endeavor to shape 2012’s election-year debate.
      
    This reading should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

4.2.3 Impact of Political Action Committees (PACs) and 527s on the Electoral Process   - Web Media: C-SPAN Video Library: “Political Action Committees and 2012 Elections” Link: C-SPAN Video Library: “Political Action Committees and 2012 Elections” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and watch this entire video (approximately 38 minutes), in which Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, discusses the political action committees (PACs) that influenced the 2008 and 2010 elections and the upcoming 2012 elections.

 Viewing this lecture and note-taking should take approximately 45
minutes to complete.  
     
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Northwestern University School of Law: Lauren Daniel's: “527s in a Post-Swift Boat Era: The Current and Future Role of Issue Advocacy Groups in Presidential Elections” Link: Northwestern University School of Law: Lauren Daniel’s “527s in a Post-Swift Boat Era: The Current and Future Role of Issue Advocacy Groups in Presidential Elections” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, select “Download” to access the PDF file, and read this entire document (35 pages). This report begins with a summary of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a 527 group that many believe cost Senator John Kerry the 2004 presidential election.  While this group became the most well-known 527, hundreds of these groups formed as a consequence of campaign finance reform.  Why do you think this happened?
     
    Reading and answer the question above should take approximately 2 hours to complete.
     
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Assessment: The Saylor Foundation's "Interest Groups" Link: The Saylor Foundation's "Interest Groups" (PDF)

    Instructions: Please complete the linked assessment in order to test your knowledge on the various types of interest groups that exist in American politics and their role in influencing electoral politics. 

    You should dedicate approximately 1 hour to complete this assessment.

    When you are done, please check your work against The Saylor Foundation's “Guide to Responding: Interest Group Assessment." (PDF)