American Political Parties Semin

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					                              American Political Parties Seminar
                                  Prof. Murray: Fall 2006

         This course has four principal objectives. First, to introduce graduate students to the
prominent analytic and theoretical approaches used to study modern political parties. Second, to
examine closely the development and evolution of the American party system, the oldest
example of a competitive electoral system in the world. And third, to give students a solid
grounding in how the system functions today, in contrast to other democratic party systems
across the world. As we work toward the first three goals, we will be covering the extensive
literature on American political parties and the party system, which is the final objective of the

       Four books are required for the class. These are:

       Marjorie Hershey, Party Politics in America, 12h ed.
       Marc Hetherington and William Keefe, Parties, Politics, & Public Policy in America,
         10th Ed.
       Michael Nelson, The Elections of 2004
       Gary Jacobson, A Divider, Not a Uniter

        In addition to these required texts, individual students will be assigned one (or two,
depending on class size) of the following books to read and prepare to lead a class discussion on.
One week later, a written review of 1500 - 2,000 words will also be required for class
distribution. These books are:

       James Sundquist, Dynamics of the American Party System
       Robert Michels, Political Parties
       Maurice Duverger, Political Parties
       V.O. Key, Jr., Southern Politics and The Responsible Electorate
       E.E. Schattschneider, both Party Government and The Semi-sovereign People
       James MacGregor Burns, The Deadlock of Democracy
       Anthony Downs, An Economic Theory of Democracy
       Campbell, Converse, Miller and Stokes, The American Voter
       James Q. Wilson, Political Organizations
       Steven Rosenstone, Roy Behr, Edward H. Lazarus, Third Parties in America
       Thomas Ferguson, Golden Rule
       Morris Fiorina, Divided Government and Culture War? The Myth of a
               Divided America
       William Riker, The Theory of Political Coalitions
       Walter Dean Burnham, Critical Elections & the Mainsprings of American
       John Aldrich, Why Parties?
       Joseph A. Schlesinger, Ambition and Politics: Political Careers in the U. S.
       Rebecca B. Morton, Analyzing Elections

        American political parties are almost as old as the nation, and the United States has the
longest history of competitive party politics in the world. This extensive history and the
continued importance of American parties makes them favorite objects of scholarly study and
analysis. We begin this class by looking at several ways political parties have been examined
over the years, starting with traditional approaches – these include historical chronologies, the
party reform approach, ideological assessments, case studies, and journalistic analyses.

        As the discipline of political science matured in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, students of
parties began adopting more rigorous methods in their work. They sought to replace case studies
with comparative analyses, and to apply analytic approaches from related fields like economics
and psychology. Political scientists also adapted chronological analyses by developing Key’s
idea of “critical elections” and “partisan realignments.” We will look at several of these
approaches, and assess their utility in explaining various aspects of the American party system.
Hand-in-hand with these new approaches one notes the availability of new data sources like
public opinion surveys, and the extension of techniques such as roll-call voting analysis and
content analysis to aspects of the party system.

        Particular stress is placed on the chronological approach one finds in books like James
Sundquist’s Dynamics of the Party System which enable us to trace the development and
evolution of the major parties over time. This can be contrasted with the organizational theory
approach represented by James Q. Wilson’s Political Organizations, which will also be the
subject of a book report and class discussion. One of the most influential approaches follows the
work of Anthony Downs’ An Economic Theory of Democracy and William Riker The Theory
of Political Coalitions, and is often labeled “rational choice.” If the roots of rational choice lie
in the discipline of economics, we see the influence of psychology in the style of analysis
utilized in The American Voter and the continuing influence of the “Michigan School.” After
this tour of different ways to look at parties, we end up returning to the more empirically
grounded work reflected in the Hershey text and the readers.

        In addition to covering much of the classic and influential literature on political parties in
general and American parties in particular, this course strives to ground graduate students in a
solid understanding of what is currently happening in American party politics. We rely on the
two general texts assigned in this area, plus the Nelson reader on the 2004 election and Gary
Jacobson’s new book on President George W. Bush’s leadership style – a style which is highly
partisan in the view of the author and most other scholars of the presidency.

        To further promote an understanding of current partisan politics we will focus close
attention on the 2006 elections, which students are expected to monitor using Internet sources as
well as print media. We will use this election cycle as a sort of “laboratory” to test some of the
ideas discussed in the readings such as the decline versus the resurgence of parties, realignment
versus dealignment, and the polarization of parties in a depolarized electorate.

                                  Order of Topics/Readings

Week One (August 22/24): Introduction to the course. Assignment of book reports. Discussion
of the origin and evolution of parties generally. Beginning discussion of traditional approaches
to studying American political parties. Read, for Thursday, the Foreword in the Hershey book
and Chapter 1 in same.

Week Two (August 29 only, because of APSA break). Continue discussing traditional
approaches to American parties. First class book report on V.O. Key’s Southern Politics.
Students should have read Preface and Chapter 1 in Hetherington. Also read Party Politics on
the Internet, pp. 317-324 in the Hershey book.

Week Three (Sept 5 and 7). The evolution of the American party system from the Civil War to
the late 20th century. Class reports on Michels’ Political Parties and Duverger’s Poltical
Parties, Burnham’s Critical Elections and the Mainsprings of American Politics and James
Sundquist’s The Dynamics of the Party System. Reports on the Key book distributed to class.
Read Chapter 2 in the Hershey book Chapter 2 in Hetherington.

Week Four: (Sept 12 and 14). Examining the modern American party system: Party
Organization. Reports on Wilson’s Political Organizations and Schlesinger’s Ambition and
Politics and Aldrich’s Why Parties? Read Part Two in Hershey.

Week Five: (Sept 19 and 21). Parties and Elections in the U.S.. Reports on The American
Voter and Schattschneider’s Party Government and The Semi-Sovereign People, Rebecca
Morton’s Analyzing Elections, and Key’s The Responsible Electorate. Read Part Three in
Hershey and Chapters 3 and 6 in Hetherington.

Week Six: (Sept 26 and 28). Continue discussion of parties and elections in U.S.. Reports on
Downs’ An Economic Theory of Democracy and Riker’s Theory of Political Coalitions and
Rosenstone’s Third Parties in America. Read Part Four in Hershey and Chapter 4 in

Week Seven: (October 3 and 5) Discussion of political parties in government. Reports on
Burns’ The Deadlock of Democracy, Fiorina’s Divided Government. Read Part Five in
Hershey, except Chapter 16, and Chapter 5 in Hetherington.

Week Seven: (Oct 10): Midterm Exam (100 points) 10 multiple choice questions (2 pts each),
3 of 5 short essays (10 pts each), and select one of two long essay questions (50 points).

Week Eight: (Oct 17 and 19) Resume discussion of party in government, focusing on U.S.
Congress. Report on Ferguson’s Golden Rule. Internet assignments for tracking 2006 elections

Week Nine: (Oct 24 and 26). Analyzing the 2004 election. Report on Fiorina’s Culture War.
Read the Nelson book.

Week Ten: (Oct 31 and Nov 2) Previewing the 2006 midterm elections. In-class reports on
Internet assignments.

Week Eleven: (Nov 7 and 9). Reviewing the 2006 results with updates from our Internet

Week Twelve: (Nov. 14 and 16) President George W. Bush as a party leader. Read the
Jacobson book.

Week Thirteen: Nov. 21: The Parties and the 2008 election cycle.

Week Fourteen: Nov. 28 and 30: The Future of the American Party System. Read Chapter 16
in Hershey and Chapter 7 in Hetherington.

FINAL EXAM: 150 points. 15 multiple choice questions (2 pts each), 4 of 7 short essays (10
pts each) and 1 of 2 comprehensive essay questions (80 pts)

                                     Class Requirements

1. Class meetings will combine lectures with discussion of readings and occasional book reports
   by students. All students are expected to take part in the informal class discussions.

2. A research paper of approximately 5,000 words (20 pages of text, excluding notes) is
   required. An outline of the paper requirements follows. The paper counts for 150 points.

3. Each book reports count a maximum of 25 points, as will the Internet assignment for the
   2006 election.

4. Attendance will be taken. Unexcused absences count for a loss of 5 points. Written requests
for excused absences should be submitted to the instructor.

5. Course grades will be determined as follows on the basis of the total number of possible

   A … 91.5% and above
   A-… 89.5 – 91.4%
   B+… 87.0 – 89.4%/
   B … 81.5 - 86.9%
   B- … 79.5 – 81.4%
   C+ … 77.0 – 79.4%
   C … 71.5 – 76.9%
   C- … 69.5 – 71.4%
   D+ .. 67.0 – 69.4%
   D … 61.5 – 66.9%
   D- … 59.5 – 61.4%

                                   Prof. Murray/Fall 2006
                                 Outline for Class Term Paper

Selecting a Topic

       First, remember that a good research paper focuses on a single researchable question or
issue. If the theme of your paper cannot be summarized a single question, your focus is likely
too broad.

        Second, it is always a good idea to select a subject that interests you, one that you
would like to know more about. If you are not curious about the subject, you will likely have
trouble producing a paper that interests an outside reader.

        Third, make sure early in the game that you can get sufficient information to address
the central research question you have settled on. There are many great potential papers, but you
only have a few weeks to research your subject.

        Fourth, papers must be on some aspect of American political parties, but I give you wide
latitude within this general area. You may, for example, focus on a 19th century question or
issue, so long as you do so in an original manner.

Suggestions for Approaching the Subject You Select

        Strong papers utilize a theoretic or analytic framework to provide direction to the
research and the resulting paper. We will discuss a number of such approaches in this class.
Try to draw on one in organizing your paper.

        Let me give you an example or two. Lets say you are interested in the fact that Jewish
voters are much more supportive of the Democratic Party than the standard SES model predicts
(Higher SES = More Republican Voting). Since the SES model does not work with this voter
group, your research question is to explain why it does not, and to offer an alternative
explanation that is more satisfactory than the SES model. This might lead you to test a “cultural”
model of political behavior drawing on the ideas of people like Gabriel Almond and Sidney
Verba. More specifically, one might posit that Judaism emphasizes different social values
(communitarian) than say, American Protestantism (individualistic) and this might account for
Jewish support for Democrats because they support policies that promote goals like racial
equality thru affirmative action as opposed to Republicans who favor less governmental
intervention in this area. One might also look at non-cultural factors that trump SES policy
factors (I.e., Democrats are more supportive of Israel). In any case, having defined a hypothesis,
you need to figure out some realistic way to test it.

        To take another case, perhaps you conclude, after some reading, that Jimmy Carter was
an ineffective party leader as president. Your paper tries to answer why that was the case. This

might lead you to review the models of presidential performance suggested by scholars like
Richard Neustadt or James David Barber. Or you might tackle it from a “congressional
perspective” that draws on the literature about the changing nature of Congress in the 1970s
(Maybe no Democratic president could have managed his party well in this era.)

         In each instance, you need to clearly define the dependent variable in your paper. What
is it you are trying to explain? Jewish partisan voting behavior in presidential and congressional
elections? President Carter’s inability to mobilize strong support from Democratic members of
Congress? And your need to define how you will measure variance in the dependent variable.
(Democratic presidential vote percentage in elections from 1952 to 2004 might be a good one for
the first case, or percentage of bills supported by the administration that are passed by Congress
in the second).

        And you need to define the independent variables in your research. Religious self-
identity, SES status, popularity of the president among fellow partisan identifiers, relative
legislative experience of presidents, whatever.


       1) Try to settle on a subject, if not a research question, by September 12th for discussion
          in class. Then at the class a week later (9/14), you should submit a short proposal
          (100 – 200 words) describing what you propose to do after further reflection.

       2) Three weeks later (October 3rd), submit a two page progress report that identifies the
          dependent and independent variables in your study and how you propose to measure
          each, and the major sources you are relying on in your research.

       3) Progress reports of 200 words or so should be submitted on Thursday, November 16.

       4) A final draft of the paper is due Tuesday, December 5.

Length, Sources, Citations

        The paper should be about 5,000 words, but longer papers are fine. This includes up to
500 words in a bibliography or notes. Use common sense in citing sources – acknowledge
others’ work, but don’t footnote obvious things. Good papers should strive to use at least 10
sources, or original data you collect and analyze.