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POLISCI 120B - Campaigns, Voting, Media, & Elections

Section Summary

In this course, we will analyze theories about American political campaigns. This entails explaning the behavior of candidates, journalists, and voters in terms of their institutional arrangements and political incentives. Readings in this course address: the effects of campaigns on public opinion and voter behavior; the influence of media on public opinion and voter behavior; and the long-term consequences for governance and the democratic process. Full course content can be found on Shanto Iyengar's website hosted at: http://web.stanford.edu/class/polisci120b/ .

Note: Material and information provided on this site is not a substitute for the original course content. All objectives, key terms, and summaries are suggested study aids to be used in conjunction with the main lecture slides and core textbook.

Week 1 - The Changing Role of the Press

Section Objectives

  • Explain and utilize a causal inference framework to construct, discuss, and critically analyze research arguments.
  • Assess how changes in news media format, regulatory limitations, and market incentives have influenced the delivery of news.
  • Discuss Indexing Theory as described in Zaller (1999) and Ch. 4 of Iyengar & McGrady (2011), paying special attention to the dependent and independent variables used.
  • Discuss Adversarial Tone as described in Zaller (1998), paying special attention to the dependent and independent variables used.

Week 2 - New Media, New Rules

Section Objectives

  • Explain and utilize a causal inference framework to construct, discuss, and critically analyze research arguments.
  • Define selective exposure, using research literature and conceptual examples from modern media.
  • Discuss the Attentive-Public, Issue-Public, and Polarization hypotheses, as described in Ch. 5 of Iyengar & McGrady (2011), using the causal inference framework.
  • Analyze the core findings of Bakshy, et al (2015) and Adamic and Glance (2005), focusing on the Polarization hypothesis while using the causal inference framework.
  • Explore how the rise of digital media influenced selective exposure and media consumption.

Week 3 - Party ID, the Media, and Public Opinion

Section Objectives

  • Explain and utilize a causal inference framework to construct, discuss, and critically analyze research arguments.
  • Define party identification, and the social factors that influence it, using research literature and conceptual examples
  • Analyze the core findings of Bullock (2011), and link it to theories that suggest attitudes and opinions are more impactful than party.
  • Analyze Druckman, et al (2013), and link it to theories that suggest party idenfitication is more impactful than attitudes and opinions.
  • Define media effects, and the key terms related to it, using research literature and conceptual examples.
  • Discuss Chapter 8, Iyengar and McGrady (2011), specifically focusing on media effects and arguments for and against their existence.

Week 4 - Analyzing Political Polarization

Section Objectives

  • Explain and utilize a causal inference framework to construct, discuss, and critically analyze research arguments.
  • Discuss Chapter 8, Iyengar and McGrady (2011), specifically the two-factor theory of persuasion.
  • Present and discuss three theories about the influence of elite polarization on mass public polarization.
  • Analyze Fiorina and Abrams (2010), and link it to theories of party sorting that argue that mass polarization has not occured.
  • Analyze Abramowitz (2010), and link it to theories of mass public polarization that argue differences in opinions among partisans indicates polarization.
  • Analyze Iyengar and Westwood (2015), and link it to theories of affective polarization that argue polarization manifests in emotional and social distance.

Midterm Exam Study Aids

Midterm Exam and Study Aids

Your midterm exam is scheduled to take place on November 7, 2016. You will be responsible for the all course content discussed in the main course up until that date. It is expected that you will review all material provided by Shanto, and all material presented in your textbook. 

  • The exam typically totals 100 points.
  • 54 points usually come from short definition answers.
  • 46 points often come from two short essays.

For your assistance, the following study aids have been provided below, but they are notsubstitutes for the course content itself.

  1. Flashcards
  2. Matching Game
  3. Study Guide Sheet (see attached .pdf file)

You should read the summaries of papers we discussed in section, and ensure that you understand some of the highlighted key terms.

Week 6 - Proposal and Writing Resources

Section Objectives

  • Explain and utilize a causal inference framework to construct, discuss, and critically analyze research arguments.
  • Present a variety of writing tools and resources for students to better their writing.
  • Discuss empirical research paper format and writing styles.
  • Explore the research norms surrounding the creation of a paper introduction and literature review.
  • Generate research topics and short proposal plans.

Week 7 - Campaign Messaging & Issue Ownership

Section Objectives

  • Explain and utilize a causal inference framework to construct, discuss, and critically analyze research arguments.
  • Define Free Media and Paid Media, using research literature and conceptual examples from modern elections.
  • Discuss the various campaign strategies and considerations used by candidates, as described in Ch. 6 of Iyengar & McGrady (2011).
  • Analyze the core findings of Petrocik (1996), focusing on the Issue Ownership hypothesis.
  • Analyze the core findings of Iyengar and Ansolabehere (1994), focusing on the "Riding-the-Wave" hypothesis.
  • Explore and define Wedge Appeals, using research literature and conceptual examples from modern elections.

Week 8 - The Effectiveness of Campaigns

Section Objectives

  • Explain and utilize a causal inference framework to construct, discuss, and critically analyze research arguments.
  • Define Campaign Effects, using research literature and conceptual examples from modern elections.
  • Discuss the conflicting theories of the effectiveness of campaigns, as described in Ch. 6 of Iyengar & McGrady (2011).
  • Analyze the core findings of Geer (2010), addressing the rise of negativity in campaigns.
  • Analyze the core findings of Abramowitz (2008), and define the Time for Change Model.

Final Exam Study Aids

Final Exam and Study Aids

Your final exam is scheduled to take place on December 13, 2016. You will be responsible for the all course content discussed in the main course after the mid-term (it is not cumulative). It is expected that you will review all material provided by Shanto, and all material presented in your textbook. 

  • The exam typically totals 100 points.
  • 54 points usually come from short definition answers.
  • 46 points often come from two short essays.

For your assistance, the following study aids have been provided below, but they are notsubstitutes for the course content itself.

  1. Flashcards
  2. Matching Game
  3. Study Guide Sheet (see attached .pdf file)

You should read the summaries of papers we discussed in the course, and ensure that you understand some of the highlighted key terms.

Special Workshop: Research Writing Resources

Research Writing Workshop Objectives

I will hold a writing resources workshop, and extended office hours, for students in my discussion sections.

This is scheduled to take place on December 5, 2016 from 4:00PM - 5:30PM, in Lane Hall (200), Room 107

  • Present a variety of writing tools and resources for students to better their writing.
  • Discuss empirical research paper format and writing styles.
  • Explore the research norms surrounding the creation of a paper introduction and literature review.
  • Describe the components of a research paper and ensure that work conforms to these standards.
  • Explore the various types of data analysis, the various software that can perform data analysis, etc.