Comm 162: Overview


Iyengar and McGrady, Media Politics: A Citizen's Guide. W. W. Norton, 2007.

All other required readings will be made available on the course website. Access to the readings will be restricted to those enrolled or auditing the course.


This course examines the theory and practice of American political campaigns. First, we will 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 2008 primary and general election campaigns as "laboratories" for testing generalizations about campaign strategy and voter behavior. 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 political process.


Your grade will be based on a midterm, final exam and a research paper. The exams will each count for 30 percent of the grade, and the paper will account for the remaining 40 percent. The research paper will address some issue or aspect of presidential campaigns, summarize what is known about the issue, and then present relevant evidence (quantitative "data") derived from the 2008 campaign. The deadline for selecting a paper topic is Nov 11.


All students registered for the class will be given access to the restricted portion of this web site and automatically added to the class email list. The list is an announcements only list; students are not able to post messages to the list.


Please visit the Readings section of this site for an updated class schedule.