Campaigns, Voting, Media and Elections

Politial Science 120b - Communication 162/262

Fall Quarter 2016-17

Location: Building 200-030
Time: MW 9.30-11.20 am


Shanto Iyengar (
Office Hours: 419 Encina Hall, Tue 1-2:30pm (and by appt.)

Teaching Assistants:

Jennifer Cryer (
Office Hours: 416 Encina Hall West, Fri 10am-12pm (and by appt.)

Masha Krupenkin (
Office Hours: 433 Encina Hall West, Wed 4:30pm-6pm (and by appt.)

Class website:

Text: Media Politics: A Citizen's Guide (Third Edition). W. W. Norton, 2011. ISBN 9780393937794 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 ongoing 2016 election campaign as a "laboratory" for testing generalizations about the behavior of journalists, candidates, and voters. Third, we examine 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.

Your grade will be 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 35 percent, 10 percent is based on participation in the discussion section, and 5 percent on an in-class presentation on one of the assigned readings. The research paper must address some issue or aspect of political campaigns, summarize what is known about the issue, and then present relevant evidence (quantitative "data") derived from recent political campaigns. The deadline for selecting a paper topic is November 16.

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 & supplies or 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,

Sep 26 – Introduction

Jan 28, Oct 3 – From Party to Media-Based Campaigns

Oct 5, 10, 12 – Changing Role of the Press

Oct 17 – New Media, New Rules

Sample Papers

Oct 19, 24 – Understanding Public Opinion

Oct 26, 31 – Party Polarization

Nov 2 – Midterm Exam

The exam format includes short answer and essay questions.

Nov 7 – Party Polarization (cont.)

Nov 9 – Press Strategy

Nov 14, 16 (paper proposals due) – Advertising Strategy

Nov 28, 30 – Effects of Political Campaigns

Dec 5, 7 – The Permanent Campaign