Campaigns, Voting, Media and Elections

Poli Sci 120b - Comm 162/262

Winter Quarter 2018-19

Location: Building 200-30
Time: MW 9.30-11.20 am


Shanto Iyengar (
Office Hours: 445 Encina Hall, Tue 12-2pm (and by appt.)

Teaching Assistants:

Cesar Vargas (
Office Hours: 431 Encina Hall West, Thu 2-4 pm (and by appt.)

Class website:

Text: Media Politics: A Citizen's Guide (Fourth Edition). W. W. Norton, 2018. ISBN 978-0-393-66487-4.

All other required readings are available on the class website. Access to the readings is restricted to those enrolled or auditing the course.

This course examines the theory and practice of American political campaigns. First, we attempt to explain the behavior of the key players — candidates, journalists, and voters — in terms of the institutional arrangements and political incentives that confront them. Second, we will use the 2016 and 2018 election campaigns as a "laboratory" for testing generalizations about the behavior of journalists, candidates, and voters. Third, we discuss selections from the academic literature dealing with the immediate effects of campaigns on public opinion and voter behavior as well as more long-term consequences for governance and the democratic process.

We will calculate your grade based on a midterm, final exam (non-cumulative) and a research paper. The exams each count for 25 percent of the grade, the paper for 30 percent, your participation in the discussion section counts for an additional 10 percent, and the remaining 10 percent is based on an in-class presentation on one of the assigned readings. The research paper must address some issue or aspect of political campaigns, summarize the state of knowledge about the issue, and then present relevant evidence (quantitative "data") derived from recent political campaigns. The deadline for selecting a paper topic is February 27.

Stanford University and its faculty are committed to ensuring that all courses are financially accessible to all students. The Diversity & First-Gen Office may be able to provide assistance by completing their questionnaire on course textbooks & suppliesor by contacting Joseph Brown, the Associate Director of the Diversity and First-Gen Office (; Old Union Room 207). Dr. Brown is available to connect you with resources and support while ensuring your privacy.

Students who may need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a disability must initiate the request with the Office of Accessible Education (OAE). Professional staff will evaluate the request with required documentation, recommend reasonable accommodations, and prepare an Accommodation Letter for faculty dated in the current quarter in which the request is being made. Students should contact the OAE as soon as possible since timely notice is needed to coordinate accommodations. The OAE is located at 563 Salvatierra Walk (phone: 723-1066,

Jan 7 – Introduction and Overview
  • Jan 7 Slides
  • Media Politics, Ch 1: Introduction - Image is Everything

Jan 9, 14 – From Party to Media-Based Campaigns

Jan 16, 23, 28 – Changing Role of the News Media

Jan 30, Feb 4 – New Media, New Rules

Sample Papers

Feb 6, 11 – The Study of Public Opinion
Feb 13 – Midterm Exam

Feb 20, 25 – Party Polarization

Feb 27 – Campaign Strategy: Using the Press

Mar 4, 6 – Campaign Strategy - Advertising

Mar 11 – Effects of Political Campaigns

Mar 13 – Going Public or the Permanent Campaign