POLS 505: Political Parties
Office: Zulauf Hall 407
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. Although 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 nonnormative 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 that will resemble a comprehensive exam question given by the department’s American Government faculty. The exam will be a take home final and will be open note, open book/article. Students will receive the final exam on Wednesday, May 7th at via email and will have 24 hours to complete the exam. Students must turn in the exam at the beginning of class on May 8th. 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 during the final class period. The paper will be discussed in greater detail in class.
Students must have their research question approved by me by February 7th. Students should set a time to meet with me before the 7th to discuss ideas for the papers. On the 7th, students should turn in an abstract that includes the research question and a preliminary hypothesis or hypotheses. They will be required to turn in a literature review on March 21st and a brief paper explaining the data and methods used in the paper on April 11th. Failure to hand in any of the assignments on time will result in an automatic failure on the paper, which is tantamount to failing the course. The paper will be due May 1st. 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. Students enrolled in the course under an audit option are exempt.
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 online, or can be copied from journals in the library. When on campus, you can access articles by going to http://www.ulib.niu.edu/information/journals.cfm.
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
Kenneth. 1992. “Responsible Party Government in
(For the 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
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.
Herrnson, Paul S. 1986. “Do Parties Make a Difference? The Role of Party Organizations in Congressional Elections.” Journal of Politics 48: 589-615.
Streb, Matthew J. 2007. “Partisan Involvement in Partisan and Nonpartisan Trial Court
Elections.” In Running
for Judge: The Rising Political, Financial, and
Frendreis, John P., James L. Gibson, and Laura L. Vertz. 1990. “The Electoral
Relevance of Local Party Organizations.” American Political Science Review 84: 225-235.
Coleman, John J. 1996. “Party Organizational Strength and Public Support for Parties.” American Journal of Political Science 40: 805-824.
Weilhouwer, Peter W., and Brad Lockerbie. 1994. “Party Contacting and Political
Participation, 1952-1990.” American Political Science Review 38: 211-229.
Gershtenson, Joseph. 2003. “Mobilization Strategies of the Democrats and Republicans,
1956-2000.” Political Research Quarterly 56: 293-308.
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.
Aldrich, chapter 8 (skim).
Feb 7 The Theoretical Foundations of Party Identification
Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller, and Donald E. Stokes. 1960. The American Voter.
Green, Palmquist, and Schickler, Chapters 1-2.
Retrospective Voting in American
Page, Benjamin I., and Calvin C. Jones. 1979. “Reciprocal Effects of Policy Preferences, Party Loyalties, and the Vote.” American Political Science Review 73: 1071-1089.
Goren, Paul. 2005. “Party Identification and Core Political Values.” American Journal of Political Science 49: 881-896.
Carsey, Thomas M., and Geoffrey C. Layman. 2006. “Changing Sides or Changing Minds? Party Identification and Policy Preferences.” American Journal of Political Science 50: 464-477.
Aldrich, chapter 6
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.
Abramson, Paul R., and Charles W. Ostrom. 1991. “Macropartisanship: Am Empirical Reassessment.” American Political Science Review 85: 181-192.
MacKuen, Michael B., Robert S. Erikson, and James A. Stimson. 1992. “Question Wording and Macropartisanship.” American Political Science Review 86: 475-81.
Abramson, Paul R., and Charles W. Ostrom. 1992. “Question Wording and Macropartisanship Response.” American Political Science Review 86: 481-86.
Bartle, John. 2003. “Measuring Party Identification: An Exploratory Study with Focus Groups.” Electoral Studies 22: 217-237.
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.
Feb 21 Realignment
Key, V.O., Jr. 1955. “A Theory of Critical Elections.” Journal of Politics 17: 3-18.
Key, V.O., Jr. 1959. “Secular Realignment and the Party System.” Journal of Politics 21: 198-210.
Nardulli, Peter F. 1995. “The Concept of Critical Realignment, Electoral Behavior, and Political Change.” American Political Science Review 89: 10-22.
Feb 28 Realignment, cont.
G., and James A. Stimson. 1981. “Issue Evolution, Population, Replacement,
Alan. 1994. “Issue Evolution Revisited: Racial Attitudes and Partisanship 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.
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.
Alan and Kyle L. Saunders. 1998.
“Ideological Realignment in the
E., and J. Merrill Shanks. 1996. The New
American Voter (
Green, Palmquist, and Schickler, Chapter 6.
Mar 7 Dealignment and the Decline of the Party-in-the-Electorate
Pomper, Gerald M. 1977. “The Decline of Party in American Elections.” Political
Science Quarterly 92: 21-41.
Mar 13 Spring Break
Mar 20 The Continuing Importance of Party Identification
Keith, Bruce., David B. Magleby, Candice J. Nelson, Elizabeth Orr, Mark C. Westlye,
and Raymond E. Wolfinger. 1992. The Myth of the Independent Voter.
Bartels, Larry M. 2000. “Partisanship and Voting Behavior, 1952-1996.” American
Journal of Political Science 44: 35-50.
Hetherington, Marc. J. 2001. “Resurgent Mass Partisanship: The Role of Elite Polarization.” American Political Science Review 95: 619-631.
Brewer, Mark D. 2005. “The Rise of Partisanship and the Expansion of Partisan
Conflict within the American Electorate.” Political Research Quarterly 58: 219-
Cowden, Jonathan A., and Rose M. McDermott. 2000. “Short-Term Forces and
Partisanship.” Political Behavior 22: 197-222.
Green, Palmquist, and Schickler. Chapters 3, 5, 8.
Mar 27 Political Parties as Heuristics and Schemas
Mondak, Jeffrey J. 1993. “Public Opinion and Heuristic Processing of Source Cues.”
Political Behavior 15: 167-192. (NOTE: I’ve assigned this article because it is
a nice overview of heuristics, although it is not related directly to party
Rahn, Wendy. 1993. “The Role of Partisan Stereotypes in Information Processing about
Candidates.” American Journal of Political Science 37:472-496.
Schaffner, Brian F.,
Uniforms: The Nonpartisan Ballot in State and Local Elections.” Political
Research Quarterly 54:7-30.
Schaffner, Brian F. and
Information Elections.” Public Opinion Quarterly 66: 559-81.
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.
Petrocik, John R. 1996. “Issue Ownership in Presidential Elections, with a 1980 Case
Study.” American Journal of Political Science 40: 825-50.
Hayes, Danny. 2005. “Candidate Qualities through a Partisan Lens: A Theory of Trait
Ownership.” American Journal of Political Science 49: 908-923.
Apr 3 No class. MPSA Conference.
Apr 10 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.
Apr 17 The Party-in-Government and Democratic Governance
Krehbiel, Keith. 1993. “Where’s the Party?” British Journal of Political Science 23:
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.
Lebo, Matthew J., Adam J. McGlynn, and Gregory Koger. 2007. “Strategic Party
Government: Party Influence in Congress, 1789-2000.” American Journal of Political Science 51: 464-481.
Wright, Gerald C., and Brian F. Schaffner. 2002. “The Influence of Parties: Evidence
from the State Legislatures.” American Political Science Review 96: 367-380.
Stimson, James A., Michael B. MacKuen, and Robert S. Erikson. 1995. “Dynamic
Representation.” American Political Science Review 89: 543-565.
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.
Aldrich, John H., and James S. Coleman Battista. 2002. “Conditional Party Government
in the States.” American Journal of Political Science 46: 164-172.
Lindaman, Kara, and Donald P. Haider-Markel. 2002. “Issue Evolution, Political
Parties, and the Culture Wars.” Political Research Quarterly 55: 91-111.
Aldrich, Chapter 7.
Apr 24 Divided Government
Fiorina, Morris P.
1996. Divided Government, 2nd ed.
Bacon, Chapter 5. (E)
Fiorina, Morris P. 1994. “Divided Government in the American States: A Byproduct of
Legislative Professionalism.” American Political Science Review 88: 304-316.
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.
Sinclair, Barbara. 1993. “House Majority Party Leadership in an Era of Divided
Control.” In Congress
Reconsidered, 5th ed.
Jones, David, and Monika McDermott. 2004. “The Responsible Party Government
Model in House and Senate Elections.” American Journal of Political Science
May 1 Research Presentations
May 8 Final Exam