Campaigns, Voting, Media and Elections

Politial Science 120b - Communication 162/262

Winter Quarter 2017-18

Location: Econ 140
Time: MW 9.30-11.20 am


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

Teaching Assistants:

Matt Tyler (
Office Hours: 427 Encina Hall Central, Tue 2-4pm (and by appt.)

Masha Krupenkin (
Office Hours: 317 Encina Hall West, Wed 1-3pm (and by appt.)

Class website:

Text: Media Politics: A Citizen's Guide (Third Edition). W. W. Norton, 2016. 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 2016 election campaign 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.

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 30 percent, 10 percent is based on participation in the discussion section, and 10 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 February 28.

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

Jan 10, 17 – From Party to Media-Based Campaigns

Jan 22, 24, 29 – Changing Role of the News Media

Jan 31, Feb 5 – New Media, New Rules

Feb 7, 12 – The Study of Public Opinion
Feb 14 – Midterm Exam

Feb 21, 26 – Party Polarization

Feb 28 – Campaign Strategy: Using the Press

Mar 5, 7 – Campaign Strategy - Advertising

Mar 12 – Effects of Political Campaigns

Mar 14 – Going Public or the Permanent Campaign