POLS 505: Political Parties

Spring 2006

Tuesday, 3:30-6:10

DuSable 464


Dr. Matt Streb

Office: Zulauf Hall 412

E-Mail Address: mstreb@niu.edu

Office Hours:  W, 9-12; R, 1:30-3:30


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 midnight the day of class class.  Students who do not turn in a paper by midnight 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.   


Course Policies:


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.


2.  Students with Disabilities:  Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Those students with disabilities that may have some impact on their coursework and for which they may require accommodations should notify the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building. CAAR will assist students in making appropriate accommodations with course instructors. It is important that CAAR and instructors be informed of any disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.


3.  Late Assignments:  I will not accept late weekly memos.  If I do not receive the memo via email by midnight 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 Political Science, Graduate School, Northern Illinois University, and the scholarly community.  This statement encompasses intentional and unintentional plagiarism; cheating on examinations; using, purchasing, or stealing others’ work; misusing library materials, and so forth.  Failure to honor these rules, regulations, and standards could result in a failing course grade and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.   



Required Texts:


Aldrich, John H.  1995.  Why Parties?  The Origin and Transformation of Political

Parties in America.  Chicago:  University of Chicago Press.


Green, Donald, Bradley Palmquist, and Eric Schickler.  2002.  Partisan Hearts and

Minds:  Political Parties and the Social Identities of Voters.  New Haven, CT:  Yale University Press.


Mayhew, David R.  2002.  Electoral Realignments: A Critique of the American Genre. 

New Haven, CT:  Yale University Press.


Streb, Matthew J.  2002.  The New Electoral Politics of Race.  Tuscaloosa:  University of

Alabama Press.


Wattenberg, Martin P.  1998.  The Decline of American Political Parties, 1952-1996. 

Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press.


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.    


Grading Scale:

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 Readings:


NOTE: Readings should be completed for the day in which they are assigned.  (E) means the reading is available on electronic reserve.  (J) means the reading is available on J-stor.  (L) means the reading must be copied from the journal in the library.   


Jan 17             Introduction to the Course


The Role and Structure of Political Parties in the United States


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 United States Does Not Have Responsible Parties.”  Perspectives on Political Science 21: 91-98.

White, John Kenneth.  1992.  “Responsible Party Government in America.”  Perspectives on Political Science 21: 80-90.


(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.  2003.  “The Battle for the Legislature: Party Campaigning in State House and Senate Elections.”  In The State of the Parties, 4th ed., John C. Green and Rick Farmer (eds.).  Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.(E)

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) 


The Party-in-the-Electorate


Feb 7               The Theoretical Foundations of Party Identification


Campbell, Angus, Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller, and Donald E. Stokes.  1960.  The American Voter.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.  Chapters 2 (skim), 6, 7.(E)

Fiorina, Morris P.  1981.  Retrospective Voting in American National Elections.  New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.  Chapter 5.(E)

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.

Miller, Warren E., and J. Merrill Shanks.  1996.  The New American Voter.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.  Chapter 6.(E) 

Niemi, Richard G., and Herbert F. Weisberg (eds.).  2001.  Controversies in Voting Behavior, 4th ed.  Washington DC: CQ Press.  Chapter 17.(E)


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)

Ladd, Everett Carll.  1991.  “Like Waiting for Godot: The Uselessness of ‘Realignment for Understanding Change in Contemporary American Politics.”  In The End of Realignment?, Byron E. Shafer (eds.).  Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.(E)

Mayhew, all

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.


Abramowitz, Alan.  1994.   “Issue Evolution Revisited:  Racial Attitudes and Partisanship in the U.S. Electorate.”  American Journal of Political Science 38: 1-24.(J) 

Abramowitz, Alan  and Kyle L. Saunders.  1998.  “Ideological Realignment in the U.S. Electorate.”  Journal of Politics 60: 634-652.(J)

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) 

Carmines, Edward G., and James A. Stimson.  1981.  “Issue Evolution, Population, Replacement, and Normal Partisan Change.”  American Political Science Review 75: 107-118.(J)

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 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press).  Chapter 7.(E)

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


Wattenberg, all


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-

229. (L)

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.).  Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.(E) 

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.  Berkeley:  University of California Press, Chapter 5.(E) 


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 the United States.”  American Political

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 ed.  Needham Heights, MA: Allyn &

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

48: 1-12.(J)

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.  Lawrence C. Dodd and Bruce I. Oppenheimer (eds.).  Washington, DC: CQ Press.(E)


Apr 25             Research Presentations


May 2             Research Presentations


May 9             Final Exam