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POLSC333: Campaigns and Elections

Unit 6: Election Outcomes   In this unit, you will learn how election outcomes impact government actions and public policy.  Although elections often have immediate political consequences, the American political system is designed so major changes happen slowly.  Although the majority party often has more power in terms of shaping public policy than does the minority party, the design of the American political system (i.e., checks and balances, separation of powers) ensures that party dominance in the legislative branch does not mean that a given party has free rein in implementing public policy. 
 
This unit will address important electoral outcomes and assess the impact that these outcomes have on the legislative process.  You will learn how party dominance can change (realignment), how political parties can enjoy a sense of power after winning a large majority in an election (political mandate), how bipartisanship has changed (or disappeared) over time, and how all this can impact policy implementation.  

Unit 6 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 18 hours to complete.
☐    Subunit 6.1: 3 hours
☐    Subunit 6.2: 4.25 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 6.2.1: 2 hours
☐    Sub-subunit 6.2.2: 1.25 hours
☐    Sub-subunit 6.2.3: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 6.3: 3.75 hours
☐    Subunit 6.4: 7 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 6.4.1: 2.75 hours
☐    Sub-subunit 6.4.2: 3 hours
☐    Sub-subunit 6.4.3 1.25 hour

Unit6 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Explain the concept of electoral realignment.
  • Describe the history of realigning elections in American politics.
  • Define and provide specific examples of political mandates throughout history.
  • Discuss the rise and impact of political polarization on campaigns and elections.
  • Analyze the connection between electoral outcomes and public policy implementation.

6.1 Electoral and Party Realignment   6.1.1 Defining Realignment   - Reading: The University of Vermont: David R. Mayhew's: Electoral Realignments: A Critique of an American Genre: “The Realignment Perspective” Link: The University of Vermont: David R. Mayhew's: Electoral Realignments: A Critique of an American Genre: “The Realignment Perspective” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, select the “mayhew.pdf” link, and then read this entire PDF (20 pages).  Based on your understanding of the reading, do you believe that the 2008 presidential election fits the definition of “realignment?”
 
Reading and answering the question above should take approximately 1 hour to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

6.1.2 Historic Realignments in American Politics   - Reading: Liberty University: Steven Alan Samson's: “Electoral Realignment” Link: Liberty University: Steven Alan Samson's: “Electoral Realignment” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, select the “Download” link, and then read this entire PDF (8 pages).

 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: Florin Fesnic's: “Election Types” Link: Florin Fesnic's: “Election Types” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, select the link to this reading on the webpage, and then read this entire PDF (3 pages).

    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.

6.1.3 The Future of Realignments   - Reading: New America Foundation: Peter Levine, Constance Flanagan, and Les Gallay's: “The Millennial Pendulum: A New Generation of Voters and the Prospects for a Political Realignment” Link: New America Foundation: Peter Levine, Constance Flanagan, and Les Gallay's: “The Millennial Pendulum: A New Generation of Voters and the Prospects for a Political Realignment” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, select the link under “Attachments,” and then read this entire PDF (20 pages).  The authors suggest that Millennials have a more progressive identity than did previous generations at their age and are likely to move the country leftward on economic and social issues for decades to come.  Do you agree with this assessment?  Why, or why not?
 
Reading and answering the questions above should take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

6.2 Electoral Mandates   6.2.1 Defining a Political Mandate   - Reading: Brookings Institution/Princeton University: “Elections, Mandates, and Governance” Link: Brookings Institution/Princeton University: “Elections, Mandates, and Governance” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, select the “Transcript (PDF)” link, and then read this entire PDF (51 pages).

 This reading and note-taking should take approximately 1 hour and
45 minutes to complete.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: University of Connecticut: Daily Campus: Arragon Perrone's: “Politicians Should Not Declare ‘Popular Mandate’” Link: University of Connecticut: Daily Campus: Arragon Perrone's: “Politicians Should Not Declare ‘Popular Mandate’” (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.

6.2.2 Historic Cases of a Political Mandate   - Web Media: The Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics: “Mandate: The President and the People” Link: The Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics: “Mandate: The President and the People” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and watch this entire video (approximately 34 minutes), which examines the complex relationship between the presidency and public opinion—from George Washington to Franklin D. Roosevelt.  What exactly do mandates tell us about the proper relationship between the president and the people, especially following elections with thin margins?

 Viewing this video and answering the question above should take
approximately 45 minutes to complete.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: CBSNews.com: Vaughn Ververs' : “A Mandate for Change” Link: CBSNews.com: Vaughn Ververs' : “A Mandate for Change” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read this entire webpage.  In your opinion, has any aspect of President Obama’s mandate for change after the 2008 presidential election been effectively realized?
     
    Reading and answering this question above should take approximately 25-30 minutes to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

6.2.3 Assessing Political Mandates in American Politics   - Web Media: C-SPAN Video Library: “2010 Midterm Election Mandate” Link: C-SPAN Video Library: “2010 Midterm Election Mandate” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and watch this entire video (approximately 63 minutes) for a discussion that analyzes the mandate expressed by the voters during the 2010 midterm elections.
 
This video should take approximately 1 hour to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

6.3 Political Polarization   6.3.1 Defining Political Polarization   - Reading: Annual Review of Political Science: Morris P. Fiorina and Samuel J. Adams' : “Political Polarization in the American Public” Link: Annual Review of Political Science: Morris P. Fiorina and Samuel J. Adams' : “Political Polarization in the American Public” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, scroll down to the “Wayne Baker” section to find this reading, and then read this entire PDF (29 pages).
 
This reading should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete.
 
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6.3.2 Red vs. Blue: The Rise of Polarization in American Politics   - Reading: The Christian Science Monitor: Liz Marlantes’ “Inside Red-and-Blue America” Link: The Christian Science Monitor: Liz Marlantes’ “Inside Red-and-Blue America” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the above article in its entirety in which the author discusses America’s polarized electorate.  Make sure to click on the arrow key or page number at the bottom of the text to read all 4 pages of the article.  As she points out, some view the red state/blue state phenomenon as somewhat exaggerated.  Do you agree with this assessment?  Why, or why not?
 
Reading and answering the questions above should take approximately 1 hour to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

6.3.3 The Impact of Polarization: Can the Government Still Govern?   - Web Media: Brookings Institution: “Congressional Leadership in an Era of Partisan Polarization” Link: Brookings Institution: “Congressional Leadership in an Era of Partisan Polarization” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: Please scroll down to the “Multimedia Downloads” section and then click the “Audio” button next to “Part One” to listen to this entire discussion (approximately 72 minutes).
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

6.4 Electoral Outcomes and Public Policy   6.4.1 From to Campaign Mode to Governing Mode: Making Good on Campaign Promises   - Reading: The Brookings Institution: Thomas E. Mann's: “From Campaigning to Governing: Politics and Policymaking in the New Obama Administration” Link: The Brookings Institution: Thomas E. Mann's: “From Campaigning to Governing: Politics and Policymaking in the New Obama Administration” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read this entire webpage.
 
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.

  • Reading: Education Policy Analysis Archives: Robert L. Linn’s “Conflicting Demands of No Child Left Behind and State Systems: Mixed Messages about School Performance” Link: Education Policy Analysis Archives: Robert L. Linn’s “Conflicting Demands of No Child Left Behind and State Systems: Mixed Messages about School Performance” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Read this article
     
    Reading this article should take approximately 45 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. It is attributed to Robert L. Linn and the original version can be found here.

  • Reading: The Economist: E. G. Austin's: “The Problems of the Permanent Campaign” Link: The Economist: E. G. Austin's: “The Problems of the Permanent Campaign” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read this entire webpage.  Based on the above article, how would you describe the political mindset of the “permanent campaign” in enacting public policy within the Obama Administration?
     
    Reading and answering the question above should take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete.
      
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

6.4.2 Do Elections Really Matter? Problems and Obstacles of Policy Implementation   - Reading: University of Pennsylvania: Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson's: “The Mindsets of Political Compromise” Link: University of Pennsylvania: Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson's: “The Mindsets of Political Compromise” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read this entire webpage.  Why is there so much resistance to the idea of compromise among the American public?

 Reading and answering the question above should take approximately
3 hours to complete.  
     
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

6.4.3 Electoral Impact: A Closer Look at Election Outcomes (Case Studies)   - Reading: Education Week: Alyson Klein and Sean Cavanagh's: “Election Stakes High for Education Policy, Spending” Link: Education Week: Alyson Klein and Sean Cavanagh's: “Election Stakes High for Education Policy, Spending” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read this entire webpage.
 
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.

  • Web Media: Public Radio International: “The World:" Election Results and Climate Policy” Link: Public Radio International: “The World:” “Election Results and Climate Policy” (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and then select the “Play” button to listen to this entire podcast (approximately 4 minutes) about the 2010 midterm elections and their impact on climate change and energy policies.  You may also view the transcript on this page.
     
    Viewing the lecture and reading the transcript should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.
      
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Voice of America: Jim Malone's: “US Election Results Could Affect Foreign Policy” Link: Voice of America: Jim Malone's: “US Election Results Could Affect Foreign Policy” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read this entire webpage.
     
    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.