POLS 505: Political Parties
Office: Zulauf Hall 412
E-Mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Course Description: Scholars have long debated the relevance and strength of American political parties; in fact few areas of political science have received as much attention. This seminar will introduce you to some of the “classic” works on political parties as well as some recent, important contributions to the literature. While the founders were skeptical of political parties, political scientists have argued that they are essential in a democracy. E.E. Schattschneider went so far as to write that “modern democracy is unthinkable save in terms of parties.” Political scientists are generally in agreement over the importance of political parties, but there is considerable disagreement over the nonnormative question of how strong American political parties are and the normative question of how strong political parties should be.
We will spend much of our time answering the nonnormative and normative questions regarding party strength. It is important to note, however, that neither the readings we will cover in this course nor the topics addressed are comprehensive. Indeed, because of time constraints, we will pay little attention to important questions regarding comparative political parties, third parties, and party primaries. Still, the seminar will prepare the PhD students for their comprehensive exams and will help the masters’ students develop potential starred papers.
Grading: Students will receive four grades over the course of the semester:
Final Exam (30%): The final exam will consist of an essay question and will be completed in class. The question will resemble a comprehensive exam question given by the department’s American Government faculty. Students will not be able to use their notes or readings during the exam, but will be able to use their syllabi. The final will be Tuesday, May 9th . The examination must be completed to earn a passing grade and credit for the course. However, students enrolled under an audit option are exempt.
Research Paper (36%): Each student is required to write an original research paper on a topic related to political parties (that receives my approval). In the paper, students should develop and test empirically a hypothesis. The paper is not a research design or a literature review. The goal is to have the student create a paper that is suitable for presentation at a regional or national political science conference or that could be accepted as a department starred paper. As a result, students will give a formal presentation of their papers some time during the final two class periods. The paper will be discussed in greater detail in class.
Students must have their research question approved by me by Tuesday, February 7th. Students should set a time to meet with me before the 7th to discuss ideas for the papers. The paper will be due May 2nd, although some students should be prepared to present the findings of their papers by April 25th. To earn a passing grade in the course, this assignment must be completed. However, students enrolled in the course under an audit option are exempt.
Weekly Memos (24%): Students are required to write a one-page single-spaced reaction paper to the readings each week. Students are to highlight arguments that they found most interesting, make general overall comments about the arguments in the readings, and ask questions about areas in which they are confused. Papers are due to me via e-mail by the day of class class. Students who do not turn in a paper by will receive a 0 for the paper, NO EXCEPTIONS!! Students who do not hand in more than two memos will automatically receive a course grade of “F.” Memos will be graded based on 0-2 points. A two-point paper will raise intriguing questions, provide insightful comments, and integrate concepts analyzed in more than one of the readings.
Participation (10%): For the most part, this class will be conducted in a seminar format. Therefore, it is imperative that students actively participate in class. Students are expected to contribute comments about the readings and questions about the material. This class depends greatly on quality participation in order for you to get the most out of it. All required readings for a particular week are to be completed by everyone before arriving in class; and each member of the class should be prepared to summarize, react to, and draw from the readings in depth. Also, your research presentation will be part of your participation grade (although you will not be given a grade for the presentation).
In general, relevant in-class participation will be evaluated according to the following scale with plus and minus grades being possible.
A=regular and thoughtful participation
B=occasional and thoughtful participation
C=regular attendance, but little or no participation
Students who miss more than two classes will fail the class, although students are not expected to miss any classes barring a family emergency or major illness.
1. Makeup Exam: I will only give a makeup final examination under extraordinary circumstances. If such circumstances arise, please contact me as soon as possible and before the scheduled exam. To keep the process fair for everyone in the course, students may be asked to support requests for makeup examinations with documentation. A missed examination without prior notification and a documented excuse will result in a zero and a course grade of “F” as opposed to an incomplete.
3. Late Assignments: I will not accept late weekly memos. If I do not receive the memo via email by on the day of class, you will receive a zero for the assignment. Students who miss more than two weekly memos will receive a course grade of “F” as opposed to an incomplete. A research paper submitted after the due date will be penalized by a deduction of ten points (one letter grade) per day. Since students will have had several weeks to write their papers, this standard will be waived only in extreme circumstances.
4. Incomplete Requests: Such petitions will be granted only in extraordinary circumstances. The professor reserves the right to ask for documentation to verify the problem preventing completion of the course by the normal deadlines. If the student does not present documentation from a university office or official, the matter will be left to the professor’s discretion.
5. Academic Dishonesty: In preparing for their work and meeting
the requirements of this course, members of this seminar are expected to adhere
to all the rules, regulations, and standards set forth by the Department of
Aldrich, John H. 1995. Why Parties? The Origin and Transformation of Political
Green, Donald, Bradley Palmquist, and Eric Schickler. 2002. Partisan Hearts and
Minds: Political Parties and the Social Identities
Mayhew, David R. 2002. Electoral Realignments: A Critique of the American Genre.
Streb, Matthew J. 2002. The New
Electoral Politics of Race.
Wattenberg, Martin P. 1998. The Decline of American Political Parties, 1952-1996.
These books are available at the NIU bookstore. Students are strongly encouraged to visit websites such as www.campusi.com to find much cheaper, used versions of these books. The remainder of the readings will be placed on electronic reserve, are available through J-stor, or can be copied from journals in the library. When on campus, you can access J-stor by going to www.jstor.org.
93-100% A 90-92.9% A- 87.5-89.9% B+
83-87.4% B 80-82.9% B- 77.5-79.9% C+
73-77.4% C 70-72.9% C- 60-69.9% D
Less than 60% F
Course Outline and
Jan 17 Introduction to the Course
Role and Structure of Political Parties in the
Jan 24 What are parties and why are they important?
Aldrich, chapters 1-5, 9
David, Paul T. 1992. “The APSA Committee on Political Parties: Some Reconsiderations of Its Work and Significance.” Perspectives on Political Science 21: 70-79.
Herrnson, Paul S.
1992. “Why the
Kenneth. 1992. “Responsible Party Government in
(For the David, Herrnson, and White readings, go to http://www.apsanet.org/~pop/APSA_Report.htm. They are available at the bottom of the page.)
Jan 31 The Party Organization and Party Activists
Aldrich, chapters 6 and 8.
Coleman, John J. 1996. “Party Organizational Strength and Public Support for Parties.” American Journal of Political Science 40: 805-824.(J)
Francia, Peter L., Paul S. Herrnson,
John P. Frendreis, and Alan R. Gitelson.
Frendreis, John P., James L. Gibson, and Laura L. Vertz. 1990. “The Electoral Relevance of Local Party Organizations. The American Political Science Review 84: 225-235.(J)
Gibson, James L., Cornelius P. Cotter, John F. Bibby, and Robert J. Huckshorn. 1983. “Assessing Party Organization Strength.” American Journal of Political Science 27: 193-222.(J)
Gibson, James L., Cornelius P. Cotter, John F. Bibby, and Robert J. Huckshorn. 1985. “Whiter Local Parties?” American Journal of Political Science 29: 139-160.(J)
Herrnson, Paul S. 1986. “Do Parties Make a Difference? The Role of Party Organizations in Congressional Elections.” Journal of Politics 48: 589-615.(J)
Hill, Kim Quaile, and Jan E. Leighley. 1993. “Party Ideology, Organization, and
Competitiveness as Mobilizing Forces in Gubernatorial Elections.” American
Journal of Political Science 37: 1158-1178.(J)
Feb 7 The Theoretical Foundations of Party Identification
Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller, and Donald E. Stokes. 1960. The American Voter.
Fiorina, Morris P.
1981. Retrospective Voting in American National Elections.
Goren, Paul. 2005. “Party Identification and Core Political Values.” American Journal of Political Science 49: 881-896.(E)
Green, Palmquist, and Schickler, Chapters 1-2.
E., and J. Merrill Shanks. 1996. The New
Niemi, Richard G., and Herbert F. Weisberg (eds.). 2001. Controversies in Voting Behavior, 4th
Feb 14 Partisanship in the Aggregate
MacKuen, Michael B., Robert S. Erikson, and James A. Stimson. 1989. “Macropartisanship.” American Political Science Review 83: 1125-42.(J)
Abramson, Paul R., and Charles W. Ostrom. 1991. “Macropartisanship: Am Empirical Reassessment.” American Political Science Review 85: 181-192.(J)
MacKuen, Michael B., Robert S. Erikson, and James A. Stimson. 1992. “Question Wording and Macropartisanship.” American Political Science Review 86: 475-81.(J)
Abramson, Paul R., and Charles W. Ostrom. 1992. “Question Wording and Macropartisanship Response.” American Political Science Review 86: 481-86.(J)
Box-Steffensmeier, Janet M., and Renee M. Smith. 1996. “The Dynamics of Aggregate Partisanship.” American Political Science Review 90: 567-80.(J)
Green, Palmquist, and Schickler, Chapter 4
Kaufmann, Karen, and John Petrocik. 1999. “The Changing Politics of Men: Understanding the Sources of the Gender Gap.” American Journal of Political Science 43:864-87.(J)
Feb 21 Realignment
Key, V.O., Jr. 1955. “A Theory of Critical Elections.” Journal of Politics 17: 3-18.(J)
Nardulli, Peter F. 1995 “The Concept of Critical Realignment, Electoral Behavior, and Political Change.” American Political Science Review 89: 10-22.(J)
Feb 28 Realignment, cont.
Alan. 1994. “Issue Evolution Revisited: Racial Attitudes and Partisanship in the
Alan and Kyle L. Saunders. 1998.
“Ideological Realignment in the
Bullock, Charles S. III, Donna R. Hoffman, and Ronald Keith Gaddie. 2005. “The Consolidation of the White Southern Congressional Vote.” Political Research Quarterly 58: 231-243.(L)
G., and James A. Stimson. 1981.
“Issue Evolution, Population, Replacement, and
Green, Palmquist, and Schickler, Chapter 6.
Layman, Geoffrey C., and Thomas Carsey. 2002. “Party Polarization and ‘Conflict Extension’ in the American Electorate.” American Journal of Political Science 46: 786-802.(J)
Miller, Warren E.,
and J. Merrill Shanks. 1996. The New
American Voter (
Valentino, Nicholas A., and David O. Sears. 2005. “Old Times There Are Not Forgotten: Race and Partisan Realignment in the Contemporary South.” American Journal of Political Science 49: 672-688.(E)
Mar 7 Dealignment and the Decline of the Party-in-the-Electorate
Mar 14 Spring Break
Mar 21 The Continuing Importance of Party Identification
Bartels, Larry M. 2000. “Partisanship and Voting Behavior, 1952-1996.” American
Journal of Political Science 44: 35-50.(J)
Brewer, Mark D. 2005. “The Rise of Partisanship and the Expansion of Partisan
Conflict within the American Electorate.” Political Research Quarterly 58: 219-
Campbell, James E. 2001. “Presidential Elections Campaigns and Partisanship.” In
American Political Parties: Decline or Resurgence?, Jeffrey E. Cohen, Richard
Fleisher, and Paul Kantor (eds.).
Cowden, Jonathan A., and Rose M. McDermott. 2000. “Short-Term Forces and
Partisanship.” Political Behavior 22: 197-222.(E)
Green, Palmquist, and Schickler. Chapters 3, 5, 8.
Keith, Bruce., David B. Magleby, Candice J. Nelson, Elizabeth Orr, Mark C. Westlye,
and Raymond E. Wolfinger. 1992. The Myth of the Independent Voter.
Mar 28 Political Parties as Heuristics and Schemas
Basinger, Scott, and Howard Lavine. 2005. “Ambivalence, Information, and Electoral
Choice.” American Political Science Review 99: 169-184.(L)
Hayes, Danny. 2005. “Candidate Qualities through a Partisan Lens: A Theory of Trait
Ownership.” American Journal of Political Science 49: 908-923.(E)
Lau, Richard. R and David P. Redlawsk. 2001. “Advantages and Disadvantages of
Cognitive Heuristics in Political Decision-Making.” American Journal of Political Science 45: 951-71.(J)
Mondak, Jeffrey J. 1993. “Public Opinion and Heuristic Processing of Source Cues.”
Political Behavior 15: 167-192.(J)
Petrocik, John R. 1996. “Issue Ownership in Presidential Elections, with a 1980 Case
Study.” American Journal of Political Science 40: 825-50.(J)
Rahn, Wendy. 1993. “The Role of Partisan Stereotypes in Information Processing about
Candidates.” American Journal of Political Science 37:472-496.(J)
Schaffner, Brian F., Matthew J. Streb, and Gerald C. Wright. 2001. “Teams Without
Uniforms: The Nonpartisan Ballot in State and Local Elections.” Political
Research Quarterly 54:7-30.(J)
Schaffner, Brian F. and Matthew J. Streb. 2002. “The Partisan Heuristic in Low
Information Elections.” Public Opinion Quarterly 66: 559-81.(L)
Apr 4 Partisanship and Race
Streb, all (except Chapter 9)
Giles, Michael W., and Kaenan Hertz. 1994. “Racial Threat and Party Identification.”
American Political Science Review 88:317-26.(J)
Apr 11 The Party-in-Government and Democratic Governance
Aldrich, Chapter 7.
Aldrich, John H., and James S. Coleman Battista. 2002. “Conditional Party Government
in the States.” American Journal of Political Science 46: 164-172.(J)
Cox, Gary W., and Keith T. Poole. 2002. “On Measuring Partisanship in Roll-Call
Voting: The U.S. House of Representatives, 1877-1999.” American Journal of
Political Science 46: 477-489.(J)
Erikson, Robert S., Gerald C. Wright, Jr., and John P. McIver. 1989. “Political Parties,
Public Opinion, and State Policy in
Science Review 83: 729-750.(J)
Krehbiel, Keith. 1993. “Where’s the Party?” British Journal of Political Science 23:
Lindaman, Kara, and Donald P. Haider-Markel. 2002. “Issue Evolution, Political
Parties, and the Culture Wars.” Political Research Quarterly 55: 91-111.(J)
Stimson, James A., Michael B. MacKuen, and Robert S. Erikson. 1995. “Dynamic
Representation.” American Political Science Review 89: 543-565.(J)
Wright, Gerald C., and Brian F. Schaffner. 2002. “The Influence of Parties: Evidence
from the State Legislatures.” American Political Science Review 96: 367-380.(J)
Apr 18 Divided Government
Fiorina, Morris P. 1994. “Divided Government in the American States: A Byproduct of
Legislative Professionalism.” American Political Science Review 88: 304-316.(J)
Fiorina, Morris P. 1996. Divided Government, 2nd
Bacon, Chapter 5.(E)
Jones, David, and Monika McDermott. 2004. “The Responsible Party Government
Model in House and Senate Elections.” American Journal of Political Science
Saunders, Kyle L., Alan I. Abramowitz, and Jonathan Williamson. 2005. “A New Kind
of Balancing Act: Electoral Certainty and Ticket-Splitting in the 1996 and 2000
Elections.” Political Research Quarterly 58: 69-78.(L)
Sinclair, Barbara. 1993. “House Majority Party Leadership in an Era of Divided
Control.” In Congress
Reconsidered, 5th ed.
Apr 25 Research Presentations
May 2 Research Presentations
May 9 Final Exam