Working through your papers now. Will have them for you to review in January. Remember, no class Wednesday! Have a great Christmas break!

This course covers four aspects of Congress: the history of Congress, the legislative process, congressional elections, and selected topics on institutional behavior. The history will be presented in a couple of handout articles. The legislative process—which will be the primary focus of the semester and the first exam—will be presented in Walter Oleszek's Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process, 9th or 10th ed., a required text. We will study congressional elections using handouts and constant references to news media throughout the semester; it will be the focus of the second exam. The topic(s) that you select to focus on will be based on the Dodd and Oppenheimer text, Congress Reconsidered, 10th ed., a required text, but one that you might want to double up with a another student.

N0 CLASS WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7TH.

I spell out the formal requirements in the "Memo: General Requirements for Research and other Papers in Politics" in the Useful Links section of my webpage. Review the memo down through the six rules regarding "Specific Guidelines for Research Papers." As explained in class, I am making these changes to the general rules that you will find there:

Regarding the rules on the memo, please note that 30% of the grade is based on the writing, and that includes how well you do the footnotes and citations. Majors must use Chicago Style, as per the memo. As upperclassmen, you should know this stuff by now. PROOFREAD carefully or suffer the consequences.

For the Research Paper: A Hard Copy is Due in My Office on Friday, December 9, by 4:00PM. No exceptions, no emailed copies.

1. WHAT IS YOUR RESEARCH QUESTION? WHAT DO YOU WANT TO FIND OUT?

2. WHAT IS YOUR RESEARCH PLAN? WHAT ARTICLES, BOOKS, DATA WILL HELP YOU ANSWER YOUR RESEARCH QUESTION?

3. WHAT ANSWER TO YOUR RESEARCH QUESTION DID YOU COME UP WITH? OR, BASED ON YOUR RESEARCH, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST ANSWER TO YOUR RESEARCH QUESTION? (THIS IS YOUR THESIS.)

4. EXPLAIN YOUR RATIONALE, YOUR ARGUMENT(S), FOR MAINTAINING THAT YOUR THESIS/ANSWER IS THE BEST ANSWER? THIS TASK/STEP IS YOUR PAPER!!

I have not received a chapter review from some of you. That grade is now a zero. Most of you are in pretty good shape grade-wise in the class. Let's not screw this up.

For the class of Wednesday, November 30th:

We will meet briefly as a class to return exams and discuss the paper requirements. Then I would like to meet with students individually to discuss their research papers.

For Tuesday, November 22d and beyond:

The review on your chapter is due on Tuesday, November 22d. If you get me a hard copy by Tuesday at 4:00pm, I will grade it over the break and give it back to you on the 30th. If you merely email it to me, you must give me a hard copy by Tuesday, the 29th, and I will try to get it back to you by the end of the week of November 28th. Here is the model review that I handed out after the exam last Wednesday. If you left early, you missed it and received an unexcused absence for a half-class.

General Rules for the reviews:

For Wednesday, November 30th, you must have two more sources (out of a required minimum of five scholarly sources) for your research paper. Please come and talk with me about your paper once I have handed back your graded review.

Have a relaxing Thanksgiving!

For the Class of Wednesday, November 16th:

Short mid-term exam (60 minutes). One question on all of the assigned material this semester from Jacobson (chapters 2, 3, & 4 of his book) and one question on Dodd and Oppenheimer, ch. 8: Richard Fenno's theory of congressional committees. Then a short class meeting on the research papers, which are due December 9th.

To prepare for the exam, review the Jacobson chapters. Categorizing the different factors in elections as "internal" factors—those over which the candidates have control—and "external" factors—those that are largely beyond the control of the candidates—might be very useful. Many of your election reports did a good job of using such facts, so this is not all new to you. Be sure to include the material on campaign organizations that was in the second half of chapter 4 and that we discussed two weeks ago (November 2d).

For the question on chapter 8, identify Fenno's theory and conditional party government theory, and then have a good idea of how the three committees that were analyzed by the authors fit or did not fit theory. This will require mastery and demonstration of some details about the committees. Glittering generalities will not do.

Trump and American Populism

"A volunteer note-taker is needed for this class, to assist a classmate who has a disability. This is an easy job that only requires the note-taker to share their notes within 24 hours after class. Additionally, it is an opportunity to give back to others and it looks great on a resume. The note-taker and the requesting student can each decide whether or not they wish to be openly identified, as a personal choice.

Anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer note-taker should e-mail access@marymount.edu. Lastly, as a “Thank You” for their awesome efforts, all note-takers will receive a $100 gift card from Student Access Services at the end of the semester!"

For the Class of Wednesday, November 9th:

Several important items for Wednesday's meeting:

2016 Presidential Election Map (Washington Post)

That's all I can think of at the moment. That lost class on November 23d messed up my scheduling a bit. I think that the schedule I laid out above will work OK. I don't like combination exam and class-meeting classes, but I think we can live with it just this once.

An example of the maverick elector: "Washington state elector says he won't vote for Clinton"

For the Class of Wednesday, November 2d:

The campaign is getting interestinger and interestinger, isn't it?

Successive Election Maps

Exams will be handed back on November 9th.

For the next class, there are three assignments. First of all, a short reading assignment: the remainder of chapter 4 ("Congressional Campaigns") Jacobson's book, which I handed out way back on September 7th. We read the material up to "Campaign Organizations." Please read the rest of the chapter for Wednesday. Remember, there will be another short exam on the Jacobson and other election material that we studied this semester.

Second, your final election report and prediction. This applies to both Group One and Group Two. Your final one-page report should consist of three paragraphs:

  1. The title should identify the election that you have been following.
  2. The first paragraph should describe the relevant external factors of the election (the ones over which the candidates have no control, as described in Jacobson chapter 2) Is it a gerrymandered district? What is the partisan history of the district or Senate seat? How has the presidential campaign affected the race?
  3. The second paragraph should describe the relevant "internal" factors, as described in Jacobson's chapters 3 & 4: who the candidates are, the money they raised, the positions they took. This is what the candidates have some control over.
  4. The last paragraph should be your prediction of who will win and why.

NOTE: I am not asking for anything radically new in this final report. Except for the prediction, this is all stuff that you have been reporting on throughtout the past few weeks and reporting well! It is simply a final summary report on the election that refers to all of the factors that Jacobson indicated are important in analyzing congressional elections, and it should be a complete summary of what you have found over the past month.

The third assignment is to email me your first, second, and third choices of the chapter in the Dodd and Oppenheimer text, Congress Reconsidered, 10th ed. Consider the chapters carefully, because you will be writing a review of it and and also basing your research paper on it and other relevant articles. The article that you choose should leave you with a definite [research] question that you would like to pursue further.

Only two students may select the same chapter. DO NOT SELECT chapters 4, 5, & 18!

As with the selection of the elections that you chose, we will do this on a first-emailed, first-served basis. This should not be a sudden surprise to you because I already asked you to make a selection for this past week. It looks like most of you forgot, which is understandable because of the exam, but you have had a two- or three-week heads up to select a chapter and back-up(s) for the research paper. So email me as soon as you can with your two or three choices. I'll get back to you with your prize.

For the Class of Wednesday, October 26th:

The mid-term:The mid-term will consist of two parts: (1) a definitions section worth a total of fifty points, and (2) two essay questions worth a total of fifty points.

The test will cover all assigned readings: Oleszek, chapters 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 9; the handout by James Sundquist on "Endemic Weaknesses of Congress"; the pages listed below from the Jacobson handouts; the handout by Mark and Walter Oleszek on "Legislative Sausage-Making"; the handout by Louis Fisher and G.S. David on "The War Powers Resolution: Time to Say Goodbye."

The definitions section will give you a list of eight general terms. You select five of them and give me a one page (worth ten points) explanation of (1) what the term means, (2) whether it applies exclusively to the House or the Senate, and (3) its political or procedural significance. Two of the terms that you select should apply only in the Senate, and two of them should apply only in the House. The fifth term that you select may apply to either the Senate or the House or to both chambers. I marked with red asterisks on the Oleszek vocabulary sheet below the terms that you should be particularly familiar with. From these terms with the red asterisks I will select the eight on the exam. Note: some of these terms apply to both the House and the Senate even though they appear on the vocabulary list under only one of the two chambers. Some of the terms apply only to one chamber or the other: e.g., "rules" (by which we mean rules from the House Rules Committee), "committee of the whole," "holds," "daily order of business," and so on. Both chambers, for example, use referrals, mark-ups, committee reports, calendars, amendments, floor managers, and motions to recommit, as well as some other procedures. You should know what legislative calendars are in general. Know the different kinds of amendments; I may ask you to define only one type. Amendments are very important in understanding congressional procedure; you should have a good knowledge of the different kinds.

One essay question will focus on the change in the power structure of Congress thoughout the 20th century until today. In addition to the Sundquist article on "endemic weaknesses," you should review the following sections of the Jacobson handouts: ch. 2, "Political Parties" (pages 22-25); ch. 3, "The Incumbency Advantage" (pp. 29-32, down to, but not including, the subsection on "Measuring the Value of the Incumbency Advantage") and "Sources of he Incumbency Advantage" (pp. 39-46). Sundquist narrates the history of the power structure of the House and Senate (principally the House) from the time of the strong leadership to the time of strong committee chairmen (the "barons"), ending in the 1960s and 1970s. In the pages from Jacobson's book, he describes the period of the 1970s-1990s, when the power of leaders and chairmen was weak, partisanship and party discipline were minimal, and the autonomy or "entrepreneurial" nature of individual members of Congress was at its peak. Review these pages not to focus on the techniques of congressional campaigning but to look at how Congress must have been structured to allow individual members to have so much freedom and autonomy. The Oleszek book picks up the story by describing how Congress has operated in the past couple of decades with increasingly powerful leadership, party-discipline, and partisanship. You should be familiar with the stages of this history of the distribution of powitical power in Congress and familiar with some of the details of each era. Mere generalities without specific details from the readings to support the generalities will not be enough for a good answer. Details from the readings are essential.

The other essay question will focus on the two "how-a-bill-became-a-law" articles that we read last week. In both cases, Congress passed highly partisan legislation that was seriously flawed in the form that was finally signed into law. You should be familiar with the legislative histories of both laws, as described in the articles. That means being familiar with a fair amount of detail: again, glittering generalities will not be enough. In the Fisher and David article on the War Powers Act, you need not focus on the constitutional arguments, the descriptions of the debates among the Framers at Philadelphia, or the authors' recommendations. Focus on how the legislation passed through Congress.

Oleszek Vocabulary List

For the Class of Wednesday, October 19th:

For Wednesday:

Remember, the mid-term (described below) is on Wednesday, October 26th.

For the Class of Wednesday, October 12th:

Oleszek Vocabulary List

We will finish up discussion of the House floor procedure (chapter 5) and then turn immediately to Senate procedure (chapters 6 & 7). GROUP TWO STUDENTS WILL PRESENT UPDATES ON THEIR ELECTIONS. ALL GROUP ONE STUDENTS WHO DID NOT ORALLY PRESENT LAST CLASS MUST SUBMIT A ONE- OR TWO-PARAGRAPH UPDATE ON THEIR ELECTIONS.

For October 19, I will hand out two articles for discussion. Mid-term will be on October 26.

I am meeting with a group of German students on Thursday at 3:30pm in Carruthers to discuss the American elections and their possible effect on Europe. I would really like some of you to attend and participate, and from what I have been told, the German students would like to meet you, too. I will fill you in on the details during class.

One essay will focus on the article by Sundquist and assigned pages from Jacobson and one will focus on the articles by Fisher and the Oleszeks. You have already seen how important Walter Oleszek's book is, not only for definition of terms but as a general description of how congress operates today and of its procedures and its current allocation of power among leadership, committees, and rank-and-file members. The Sundquist article, while making a particular argument, also gives us a lot of historical information about how congress operated in the past, what procedures it used, and what the allocation of power was at various times in the past. Be prepared to make comparisons and contrast among these three sources.

Finally, the readings on the War Powers Resolution and the Affordable Care Act illustrate how these major pieces of legislation were successfully enacted. When the procedures used for these measures are contrasted to the procedures described by Oleszek, there is reason to think that the methods used to pass them resulted in major flaws in both laws. The Affordable Care Act article also reflects the current allocation of powers in the House and Senate; comparisons with the Sundquist and Davidson articles is also possible.

In short, when you re-read these articles, think about them in the context of all the other material that you have read so far. This group of readings contains a lot of inter-relationships.

For the Class of Wednesday, October 5th:

We will begin by reviewing the preliminary legislative procedures common to both the House and the Senate in chapter 3 of Oleszek's Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process, wich was assigned for last time. WE will then focus on the process in the House of Representatives. Please read chapters 4 & 5 of Oleszek. This Oleszek Vocabulary List provides the terms for each chapter (except for chapter 9, which I still must add) that you should be particularly aware of.

Your election reports are exactly what I asked for. Always be sure to give me a copy of the report that you give in class. For Wednesday we must ask the people in Group One to present updated reports, even though several of you just gave a report this past week. A paragraph of new information should be enough. Group Two will be up on October 12th, and two paragraphs of new material should be presented.

A Look at out Presidential Election System

For the Class of Wednesday, September 28th:

Please read chapters 9 and 3 in Oleszek's Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process. I suggest that you read them in that order. Chapter 9 discusses one of the principal, but often overlooked, functions of congressional committees—the legislative oversight of administrative agencies. Since this function is largely independent of the legislative process, we can take it up first and then turn to the legislative process, which we will discuss for the next few weeks.

All of you who have not yet reported to the class on your elections must do so on Wednesday the 28th. The reports we heard thus far were fine. Follow the format that I laid out below for "Election Reports." Each should be about two paragraphs long.

By this time all of you should also have handed in to me the one paragraph rationale for your election pick.

Please bring along your copy of Dodd and Oppenheimer's Congress Reconsidered, 10th ed.

For the Class of Wednesday, September 21st:

Two readings for Wednesday: (1) the handout by James Sundquist on "Endemic Weaknesses of Congress," and (2) chapter one of Oleszek's Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process. Extra copies of the handout are in the rack on my office door. We will focus most attention on the handout.

If you have not done so already, you must now let me know which congressional races you are interested in following. I will give you the OK, and then a one paragraph hard copy rationale for your choice is due. Only a couple of students still owe me this material.

As I indicated in class, I have divided the class in half alphabetically (see lists below). Those of you from the first half of the class who wish to present your first election report to the class are more than welcome to do so. I hope most of you do. If you do not report this week, then you will report next week with all of the members of the latter half of the class.

Election Reports

First group: Alana, Baer, Bordas, Clark, DeLeonibus, Everett, Font, Hinson, Inman, Matali, McCammitt.

Second group: Melendez, Pawlicki, Powers, Ryan, Salgado, Shealy, Simpson, Smith, Stoessell, Usmani, Worley)

For the Class of Wednesday, September 14th:

Remember: the date of the first mid-term exam on Oleszek is now October 26th, not October 19th.

For class, please read up to page 95, "Campaign Organizations," in the Jacobson chapter that I handed out in class.

As we discussed in class, select two or three campaigns to follow (a first choice, second choice, and so on). The links on my webpage are good ones to check out—ballotpedia, Sabato's Crystal Ball, 270towin, and FiveThirtyEight—but other news sources are fine in identifying competitive races this Fall. Both 270towin and FiveThirtyEight attempt to identify marginal seats, often called "swing seats," "swing states," or "swing districts," and that may help you identify races that will be interesting to follow.

Let's open up the email for your selections on Monday morning, September 12th. You may email me your selection(s) any time after midnight, Sunday, but I won't be staying up all night to read them. I'll start reading them in order on Monday morning and get back to you right away with approval of your choice or, if it has already been taken, approval of your second or third choice. I will do my best to give you your highest ranked choice.

As we mentioned in class, if you select a race with an incumbent, you should include in your email a short reason for thinking that the race will be competitive or will be interesting for some other good reason. I am certainly not familiar with more than a handful of faces in the U.S., so help me understand why you have selected your race. If you select a marginal district or an open seat, that's all you have to tell me. Hope you enjoy this.

For the Class of Wednesday, September 7th:

Please read the handout I gave you in class, chapter 3 of Jacobson's Politics of Congressional Elections, and also the chapter 2 handout, if you have not already done so. I will begin next week's class with a short five-minute quiz (true-false, multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blanks, and so on) on the two handouts. If you did not receive copies, let me know ASAP, but I handout out twenty-five copies for a class roster of twenty-one, so all of you should have received at least one copy. (I like the way the copy center guy turned every other page upside-down. Keeps you guessing.)

To recap a little bit, we briefly discussed twentieth-century (post-New Deal) congressional elections history with an emphasis on those elections in which one party gained control of either the Senate, the House, or both—2010, 2006, 1994 most recently, and 1980, 1952, and 1946 more distantly. Not a lot of change in congressional control in spite of significantly different political issues and attitudes throughout the twentieth/twenty-first centuries. I wonder why?

Jacobson, in the first handout, describes the basic constitutional framework, then the formation of congressional districts (redistricting and "gerrymandering"), the Republican advantage (Jacobson's not a Republican), political parties, and a list of other campaign variables. We did not touch on the section on political parties, but you should for the quiz. You can skip the section on "Social and Political Contexts"—the campaign variables.

In the new handout, Jacobson discusses the incumbency advantage and the difference between marginal election districts ("marginals") and "safe seats" and the reasons for each. He discusses the classic incumbent strategy of discouraging serious opponents from challenging the incumbent, the motivation for challengers to run for office (or not), and of course the topic of campaign finance. The first handout focused on the contexts or external conditions affecting congressional campaigns; the second focuses on the candidates and the campaigns themselves.

As you read the handoutss, focus on (outline) the divisions/sub-headings of each chapter, try to identify within each sub-heading key or important terms/concepts that Jacobson defines and explains. The quiz will be aimed at (1) seeing if you have read the material and (2) a check on how well you understand what you read and how much more study, not just reading, you may need to do.

Finally, as I mentioned, you should start identifying a couple of congressional races throughout the United States that seem particulary interesting to you. I will ask you to finalize your selection on September 14th. Use the links on my webpage and directly below to help you select races that the experts have identified as significant.

See you next week!

2014 House Swing Ratio The Nation

  1. Ballotpedia
  2. RealClearPolitics
  3. Sabato's Crystal Ball
  4. The Cook Political Report
  5. Vital Statistics on Congress Brookings
Several of these are also linked on the main web page.

The material below is from past semesters.

Story on jockeying for chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee

Story on formulating tax reform by Rep. Camp of Michigan.

Here is a remarkably prescient October 31st article on the Virginia Senate race.

The overall national results and the exit poll from the congressional elections.

The final paper will be due Wednesday, December 10th, the same day as the final. It should be about five pages long and should compare-contrast the chapter that you reviewed for the assignment that you just handed in with one other new article that has not been assigned in the course.

The three-page chapter review is due on Friday by 3:30pm. As I explained in class, my main concern is your identification—in your own words—of the author's thesis or argument. Explain that argument in as much detail as necessary. Then, in your second or third paragraph, explain how the author supports his argument: what is discussed; how does the author go about proving the truth of the thesis? Those two elements of the paper should constitute half, but no more than half, of the paper. Then find something that the author says that connects or conflicts with something else that we have read this semester. Explain the connection or conflict, and make a point of your own about it. There should be a number of footnotes (8 or 10?), and a title page.

I have finally gotten my act together regarding the readings for the rest of the course. The assignment for Wednesday the twelfth is chapter 7, "Dynamics of Party Government in Congress." I need a student or two to review it (see below).

The articles available for your review are chapters 8, 11, 12, 15, and 17. A couple of the other chapters, such as 13 & 14, will be class assignments in November. We will spend some time on the budget and appropriations process. No more than three students may review one of the designated articles. With the small class, you can reserve your article by email; if three have already selected it, you must choose another.

I selected the articles because each of them has a thesis or argument, which you must identify. The authors may use verbs such as "suggest," "conclude," "assess," or just "argue" to indicate the controversial point that they are trying to make on the basis of their analyses, which usually make up the rest of the article. Not all theses or arguments can be captured in one sentence; sometimes the thesis is complex with several conditions and qualifications. Your review should identify the thesis or argument and indicate how the author(s) went about proving or supporting it. You should then offer a contrasting or conforming view that is based upon the other articles that we have read or, where appropriate, based on external sources, such as this week's elections. The class paper or chapter 7 should follow these directions.We'll make the review due in two weeks from today: Friday, November 21st. check out the articles.

For the Class of November 5th:

Interesting Election!

I have found CNN to have the best coverage of election results. (Should have told you about this before.) Check it out.

Interesting Op-Ed piece on a Republican majority.

Please read chapter two of the Dodd and Oppenheimer text, "The House in a Time of Crisis." I think Joe and Komal volunteered to present papers.

You may be interested in this story about a redistricting state legislative districts in Alabama: ALabama Voting Rights case. It's a long article with a lot of good information in the second half.

On the Maryland congressional races.

Polstats

I will post the text's chapters/articles for review over the weekend. I want to make sure that they are all comparably structured. The reviews will be due sometime during the week of the 17th. Check this page Saturday or Sunday.

For the Class of October 29th:

Please read Gary Jacobson's chapter 5 of the Dodd and Oppenheimer book. Anita will present.

Prepare a paragraph update on each of your two elections—AND your prediction of the outcomes next week. The winner may receive a $500 gift certificate!

For the Class of October 22d:

Two more classes before the election! For next class, please read two short articles in the Dodd and Oppenheimer text: (1) Robert S. Erikson and Gerald C. Wright's article "Voters, Candidates, and Issues in Congressional Elections," which is chapter 4 in the text, and (2) William Bernhard and Tracy Sulkin's article "Parties, Members, and Campaign Contributions in the House of Representatives," which is chapter 6. As you read them, compare the main points that they make to the points that Jacobson made in the first article of the semester. I need two volunteers to offer reports on these articles next week (October 22d).

Since the campaigns are heating up, I want all of you to keep up with the campaigns that you are following. The Washington Post is primarily a political paper, and its coverage of campaigns is excellent and occasionally nonpartisan. Page A3 of the daily paper is usually devoted to "Campaign 2014." Free copies of the Post and of USA Today are available in several machines and racks around campus. I will try to put a copy of "Campaign 2014" on my office door, as well. The other websites that I identified earlier are also good sites. There are a number of really close elections this year and a number of important recent developments in the campaigns that you are following. Check them out. You will each give a brief preview and prediction on October 28th and an analysis on November 5th.

Millions Have Already Voted in this year's congressional elections. Check it out.

Rasmussen Reports offers free daily emails and a cheap 16-month subscription ($24.95) to a more complete polling service. If you are interested, go to rassmussenreports.com

For the Class of October 15th:

The mid-term: As I indicated, the mid-term will consist of two parts: (1) a definitions section worth a total of fifty points, and (2) two essay questions worth a total of fifty points. The test will cover all assigned readings.

The definitions section will give you a list of eight general terms. You select five of them and give me a one page (worth ten points) explanation of what the term means, whether it applies exclusively to the House or the Senate, and its political or procedural significance. I marked with red asterisks on the Oleszek vocabulary sheet below the terms that you should be particulary familiar with. From these terms I will select the eight on the exam. Note: some of these terms apply to both the House and the Senate even though they appear on the vocabulary list under only one of the two chambers. For example, both chambers use calendars, amendments, floor managers, and motions to recommit. You should know what legislative calendars are in general and how the House and Senate calendar systems differ. Know the different kinds of amendments; I may ask you to define only one type. Amendments are very important in understanding congressional procedure; you should have a good knowledge of the different kinds. Both chambers also have referrals, mark-ups, and committee reports, of course. Some of the terms apply only to one chamber or the other: "rules" (by which we mean rules from the House Rules Committee), "committee of the whole," "holds," "daily order of business," and so on. I marked the terms you should know wherever they appeared on the list.

Oleszek Vocabulary List

One essay will focus on the article by Sundquist and one will focus on last week's articles by Fisher and the Oleszeks. You have already seen how important Walter Oleszek's book is, not only for definition of terms but as a general description of how congress operates today and of its procedures and its current allocation of power among leadership, committees, and rank-and-file members. The Sundquist article, while making a particular argument, also gives us a lot of historical information about how congress operated in the past, what procedures it used, and what the allocation of power was at various times in the past. Be prepared to make comparisons and contrast among these three sources.

Finally, the readings on the War Powers Resolution and the Affordable Care Act illustrate how these major pieces of legislation were successfully enacted. When the procedures used for these measures are contrasted to the procedures described by Oleszek, there is reason to think that the methods used to pass them resulted in major flaws in both laws. The Affordable Care Act article also reflects the current allocation of powers in the House and Senate; comparisons with the Sundquist and Davidson articles is also possible.

In short, when you re-read these articles, think about them in the context of all the other material that you have read so far. This group of readings contains a lot of inter-relationships.

For the Class of October 8th:

The article on the War Powers Resolution and the article on the Affordable Care Act are in the rack on my office door. Youssif and Erick are up with papers, I believe.

Mid-term next Wednesday, October 15th. Fifty percent on page-long definitions of major terms from the Oleszek text. I'll give you eight; you define five. Fifty percent on the articles we covered the past two weeks. Probably one essay question on the Sundquist and Davidson articles and one essay question on the Fisher and Oleszek articles.

For the Class of October 1st:

Two important articles for next time: James Sundquist's "Endemic Weaknesses of Congress" and Roger Davidson's "Subcommittee Government." Vince and Peter will present papers comparing some aspect of one of the articles to what we have learned from Oleszek over the past couple of weeks. These articles will be a prominent part of the mid-term, so be sure to read them closely.

All of you who are following House races this Fall are also on the spot to brief us on your election(s). The students did a good job on Wednesday night's Senate races; learn from their presentations and the comments made in class. Use Jacobson as a guide.

For the Class of September 24th:

Please read chapters six and seven of the Oleszek text on Senate scheduling and floor procedures.

Most everyone in the class has a written assignment for next class. Scott, Bryan, and Ogai will present three-page papers on the assigned chapters. (One copy for me and one copy for you to read.) Please see me if you want guidance on the papers. At this point in the semester, a comparison of some particular part of chapter six with the parallel part of chapter four (Senate v. House scheduling) OR some particular part of chapter seven with a parallel part of chapter five (Senate v. House floor procedure) is what you should write about.

Those of you who are following Senate elections for the Fall will each present a very short (two paragraphs of three or four sentences per paragraph), one-to-two minute report on your Senate races. Focus on the factors that Gary Jacobson said were important in understanding congressional elections, some of which were incumbency status, past margins of victory, strength of the challenger, peculiarities of the election district/state, campaign money status (if you can get some information on this; check the F.E.C. website, a link to which is on my main webpage).

Check out ballotpedia.org, in addition to the other sites linked below for some election information. (Thanks for the tip, Scott.) But don't expect all of the necessary information to be presented to you on a silver platter on one website. You must dig around.

For the Class of September 17th:

Rasmussen Reports just made (9/11/2014) the following statement:

Just 63% Know Which Parties Control the House and Senate

"Over one-third of Likely U.S. Voters remain unaware which political party controls the House of Representatives and which has a majority in the Senate—less than two months before an election that may put one party in charge of both."

For the Class of September 10th:

A couple of articles in the Post this morning that may be of interest. Sean Sullivan wrote about a Democratic Incumbent Losing in yesterday's Massachusetts primary and about the overall results of the 2014 primaries; Andrew Blake also reviews the 2014 primaries; and Paul Kane writes about Senate Leaders' no-longer safe seats.

Please read chapters 1 and 3 in Oleszek's Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process. There may be a quiz.

The second assignment is to finalize the congressional races that you will follow this Fall. I will list here the students who have contacted me and have selected their races. Remember, no duplication of races and first-come, first-served! So get in touch soon.

  1. Yousif Alabbas: The (1) Arkansas Senate and the (2) Louisiana Senate elections.
  2. Karam Altayib: The (1) Virginia 10th and the (2) Illinois 2d districts.
  3. Joe Blaser: The (1) Maryland 6th and the (2) California 49th districts.
  4. Erick Chavez: The (1) Kentucky Senate and (2) Alaska Senate elections.
  5. Komal Choudhary: The (1) California 35th and the (2) Virginia 11th districts.
  6. Peter Gabriel: The (1) Colorado Senate and the (2) Michigan Senate elections.
  7. Ogai Haidari: The (1) Virginia 8th and the (2) Indiana 7th districts.
  8. William Miller: The (1) Nevada 4th district election.
  9. Vince Nicosia: The (1) Pennsylvania 8th and the (2) New York 18th districts.
  10. Anita Pacheco: The (1) New York 1st and the (2) California 47th districts.
  11. Evelyn Rivera: The (1) Kansas Senate race and the (2) California 17th congressional district.
  12. Scott Sampson: The (1) Georgia and the (2) North Carolina Senate elections.
  13. Alexis Studdard: The (1) Georgia 11th and the (2) Virginia Senate elections.
  14. Bryan Tubbs-Herring: The (1) Illinois and the (2) Hawaii Senate elections.

If you are having difficulty choosing an interesting congressional race or two, check these sites from the main page:

  1. RealClearPolitics
  2. Sabato's Crystal Ball
  3. The Cook Political Report
    1. Rasmussen Reports offers free daily emails and a cheap 16-month subscription ($24.95) to a more complete polling service. If you are interested, go to rassmussenreports.com

      I get the daily free emails; I just upgraded to the $24.95 special for the election season. I do not know if Rasmussen will make available polling results for the specific elections that you cover this Fall. The Senate races will be covered, I'm sure, but the House races might not be.

      You might also check out C-span.org. A lot of information on and about Congress.

      Welcome to the course!

      This semester the course coincides with the national congressional election campaigns. While not neglecting electoral politics, we must also get an idea of the history of congress and how congress functions. Thus, we will first take a look at the Fall election map and then study the procedures and practices of congress. After the October mid-term, we will spend several classes leading up to the election on the elections themselves. Check this website for the weekly assignments.

      The assignment for Wednesday, September 3d, is the article on candidates and congressional campaigns by Gary Jacobson that I handed out in class. There is also a lot of duplication in the congressional districts that you Arlington-Fairfax-Prince William county residents listed, so you should identify a couple of other congressional campaigns—House and Senate—to follow this Fall. We will sort it out in class. Assignments from the Oleszek book for next week, so get a copy of the latest edition to use or copy.

      Northern Virginia Congressional Districts

      Florida Special Election

      Attempt to lessen Senate partisanship

      Committee Chairmanships

      Material from past semesters.

      For the Class of May 1st:

      There are two assignments for May 1st: (1) please read chapter 2 in Oleszek on the congressional budget process and (2) a typed assignment to be handed it for credit.

      The typed assignment is intended to inform you about some of the main aspects of the federal budget and budgetary process. Simply provide brief but sufficient answers to the following questions and indicate the source of your information. For full credit, no more than half of the sources may be Wikipedia or Wikipedia-grade. Use newspaper and government web sites as much as you can.

        Please answer the following questions:
      1. What is a "fiscal year"? When does the federal government fiscal year begin? What fiscal year are we in today?
      2. What is the total amount of expenditures in the administration's 2014 budget?
      3. What are "mandatory" expenditures? What is the total amount of mandatory expenditures in the administration 2014 budget? What specifically are the main mandatory items?
      4. What are "discretionary" expenditures? What is the total amount of discretionary expenditures in the administration 2014 budget? What spedifically are the most expensive three items of discretionary expenditures?
      5. Answer questions 2, 3, and 4 for the Senate Democratic 2014 budget and for the House Republican/Ryan budget.
      6. Define "the national debt." Approximately how much is the national debt today?
      7. What effect will each of the three budgets—administration, Senate Democrat, and House Republican—have on the national debt?
      8. What is an appropriation bill?
      9. How many appropriation bills are considered each year?
      10. How many appropriation bills for the current fiscal year were enacted last year?
      11. What is a "continuing resolution?

      You can get some information on the last four questions in chapter 4 of the Straus book (Jessica Tollestrop's "The Appropriations Process and Limitation Amendments").

      Be brief but sufficient. The answers should take up no more than two type-written pages if you carefully label your responses. The comparison of budgets can be side-by-side charts or simply statements that include all of the various information.

      The assignment will be graded as one of the reviews that were assigned earlier.

      There are several of you who have yet to turn one or both of the papers. May 1st is the last day that I will accept a paper for partial credit (up to 50%). The papers must be good-faith efforts to receive any credit at all.

      For the Class of April 24th:

      The reading assignment for Wednesday is the last chapter of the Straus book on the passage of the Obama-care legislation. I will review some of the material in the chapter on legislative oversight in the Oleszek text as well as some material on the Senate precedure of advising and consenting to treaties.

      In preparation for the last class on May 1st, I want all of you to find a copy of the Administration's 2014 budget that was just released this month. I want you to find copies of the principal alternative budgets—Rep. Ryan's House GOP budget and the Senate Democratic alternative and others that may be out there. Note the categories of spending and revenue into which the budgets are broken down. Try to determine the present federal debt and how the 2014 budgets are supposed to affect the federal debt. That's all for now.

      I just received an email which might be of interest to some of you. It is an invitation to join a webinar on the modern senate: The Gingrich Senators: Tea Party Senators, and the Modern Senate on Friday, April 19th, at noon, hosted by Sean Theriault. I do not know if the invitation is only for me as a teacher or if it is open to everyone; if you are interested, try to register here. The webinar is sponsored by Oxford University Press. Sean Theriault is an author frequently referred to in our assigned readings. Let me know if you are able or not able to register.

      For the Paper Due Friday, April 12th and the Class of April 17th:

      Let's look at the assignment for April 17 first. Please read chapter 12 in Straus ("Ping Pong and Other Congressional Pursuits" by Barbara Sinclair) and chapter 8 in Oleszek ("Resolving House-Senate Differences"). Caroline, Nabeel, and Emily will give the papers on the Sinclair article.

      Apart from reading chapter 13 on Obama-care for April 24, we have some choice of what to cover during the last two classes. We should look at the budget process, but perhaps you also want to look at the treaty or nominations process as well. We will decide on April 17.

      Regarding the papers due Friday, April 12th, please select one of the following chapters from the Straus text for your article review: chapter 4 (Tollestrup on the Appropriations Process), chapter 6 (Straus on Roll Call Votes), chapter 9 (King et al on the Majority Party Toolkit), or chapter 10 (Shogan on Defense Authorization). Do yourself a favor and pick an article whose subject matter, not page-length, appeals to you. If you are more interested in the House than the Senate, or if you are interested in the tactics of floor action or in the greater legislative process, there is an article for you! (The two House articles are each 24 pages long; the two Senate articles are 22. Don't let two pages override your interest.)

      The article review should be three full pages. The memo linked on my main webpage should provide the necessary directions. It is basically a seminar paper with footnotes.

      Analyze the article for its core argument (question-thesis-conclusion, if this is present) the way we have done in class the past couple of times. The summary part of the papers and review should include the results of your analysis. The commentary should tie the article to other readings that we have discussed.

      Papers are due in my office by 4:00pm, Friday, April 12th. I reviewed my schedule and saw that I must be in Fairfax by 5:00pm on the 12th, so I will be leaving campus promptly at 4:00pm.

      Regarding the reviews that were just handed back, the quality of the writing was the biggest issue on most of the papers. If you received a grade below a "B", you may rewrite the paper and submit it by April 17th. Staple the paper I handed back to you to the rewrite; your final grade on the paper will be the average of the original grade and the rewrite grade. You must talk with me ahead of time to get some guidance on the rewrite. If the paper I handed back did not have a grade on it, I indicated the reason for the lack of grade on the paper. Rewrite the paper and submit it by the 17th to get a grade, but please talk to me first. If you have not yet turned in a paper, the highest grade that you can receive for this review is a 50 out of 100. It is an "F", but it is better than a zero. It must be a good-faith effort (at least a "C" paper)—do not throw together a piece of junk and submit it just to get the 50% because I will not accept it.

      Budget

      2014 Budget Charts

      Slithy Toves

      For the Class of April 3d:

      Please read chapter 7 of Oleszek on Senate floor procedure and chapter 11 of Straus, Koger's article on the filibuster. Anita and David will present the papers on Koger's article (chapter 11).

      Riddick and Frumin, Senate Procedure: Precedents and Practices: "Amendments".

      Riddick and Frumin, Senate Procedure: Precedents and Practices.

      Congressional Research Service (CRS), Memo on Amendment Trees.

      The papers are getting better and better, especially the balance of summary and commentary. Always analyze the Straus-book articles for their core argument (question-thesis-conclusion) they way we have done in class the past couple of times. The summary part of the papers and review should include the results of your analysis. The commentary should tie the article to other readings that we have discussed.

      The article review due April 12th (Friday in my office: same as last time) should be three full pages. The memo linked on my main webpage should provide the necessary directions. It is basically a seminar paper with footnotes.

      For the Class of March 27th:

      Please read chapter 6 of Oleszek, scheduling in the Senate, and chapter 8 of the Straus reader: James Wallner's "The Death of Deliberation." The papers, by Danielle and Raubia (unless I get volunteers!) will be on the Wallner article.

      The next review, due Friday, April 12th will be on any article that you choose from the following selection: chapters 4, 6, 9, or 10 of the Straus text. There will be no class on April 10th, so you should have plenty of time to write it.

      For the Paper, due March 22d:

      The three-to-five page book review on Morris Fiorina's Congress: Keystone of the Washington Establishment is due Friday, March 22d, in my office by 3:30pm (if I do not have your hard copy by the time I leave on Friday, the paper is late—loss of one letter grade for each late day). The general directions for the paper are found at the link entitled "Memo: Article and Book Reviews," located under the "Useful Links" section of my web site.

      Once you have examined the instructions for a three-to-five page review on the link (the same instructions that Prof. Benbow is using in POL/HI 250), remember the basic rule of no more than one-half the paper as a summary of Fiorina's book: if your paper is four full pages long, the summary should be no more than two pages long, and so on. You get the mathematical point. Secondly, the commentary on Fiorina must be based on one of the other readings that have been assigned this semester: Sundquist, Davidson, and Rieselbach come immediately to mind, but you might find an interesting point to compare or contrast in one of the other readings from the course. Finally, writing—grammar, punctuation, syntax, and general proofreading—will be a substantial part of the grade. Poor, sloppy writing can result in the paper failing, so PROOFREAD! PROOFREAD! PROOFREAD! The Turabian text or Strunk and White's Elements of Style are good resources to help you write better.

      For the Class of March 20th:

      Please read chapter 5 in the Oleszek text, relating to floor action procedures in the House, and chapter 5 in the Straus text, Jennifer Clark's article on the motion to recommit. Elyssa and Rachel will present papers. (I would welcome anyone else who wants to volunteer for Wednesday.) The rest of the class must prepare a printed assignment on Jennifer Clark's chapter containing the same three elements that I asked for last week: (1) definitions of the two or three main concepts in the article, (2) the question that she addresses in the article, and (3) her answer to the question.

      I will bring copies of the first mid-term questions with me to class on Wednesday.

      For the Class of March 13:

      To the three things I posted last week, let me add one more: please make a brief (half-page) outline of the Saturno article that includes three things: (1) definitions of the two or three main concepts in the article, (2) the question that he addresses in the article, and (3) his answer to the question. Like the Fiorina text, this article is a nice model for a student research paper: it is the author's attempt (en Francais, un essai! Un 'essayer de faire quelque chose.') to answer a question or solve a problem that was puzzling him. Submit it in lieu (more Frog talk) of a quiz. (Spring must be in the air.)

      Three things: (1) Assignment for Wednesday, March 13th, the first class after Break, is two chapters: chapter 4 in the Oleszek text and chapter 3 in the Straus text. Two students will present papers: Mara and Tom (not Nabeel, unless you want to). You should also be familiar with (i.e., you should read!) chapter 3 in the Oleszek text, which the basics of congressional procedure. We will go over this material briefly in class, but I do not want to make it a separate assignment. Maybe a quiz on the material in a few weeks would encourage you to read the chapter. Vocabulary will be a major component on the final exam, and chapter 3 contains many important terms relating to Congress.

      (2) I did not have the time to grade your mid-terms before having to submit mid-term grades. Therefore, I skimmed each exam to make sure that each of you had addressed every question and then gave everyone a "C" for the mid-term grade. Some of the exams looked like "A" quality; some looked like "C" might be a gift. But to be fair across the board, I did not differentiate and gave everyone a "C" because you are all clearly passing the course at this point.

      (3) I have figured out a way of giving extra credit to any of you who wish to write a 10 to 12 page research paper in this course and submit it to the Discover program research day, April 10th. Given the grading standards on the syllabus, I can count a research paper as 20% of your final grade and as satisfaction of the second review (and other written assignments) that will be required in the course. Everyone must still submit a review of the Fiorina book by March 22d. Email me if you are interested in doing this.

      For the Class of February 27th:

      The mid-term exam will consist of one long essay question (50 points) and a number of questions calling for shorter (10 point) essays. These shorter questions will include identifications, definitions, and factual description questions, each of which can be answered in less than one page of the Blue Book. All of the questions will refer to what we have read and to what we have discussed in class. All of the questions will focus on concepts and general themes of the course, not on particular authors or articles: it is up to you to use particular details from the readings (and class discussions) to support the main points of your essays. Thus, I will not ask you questions like "What are three of the reforms that Rieselbach discusses," or "According to Jacobson, how are contemporary campaign practices tied to changes in campaign financing law." I might ask about campaign financing law and so on, but I will leave it up to you to supply details from the readings that pertain to the topics of the essays.

      Thus, you do not have to memorize the articles (as if any of us can), but a good essay does make specific references—by name—to the authors who provided the details that you use in your essays. So have a good familiarity with the contents of the articles, but keep in mind that none of the questions will ask you specifically to summarize any article or reading in particular.

      Covered material: assigned articles by Jacobson (2), Sundquist, Davidson, Rieselbach, Glassman, and Fiorina. A couple of copies of the handouts might still be in the rack on my office door, but I think everyone received each of the handouts. Bring a couple of blue or black pens—real blue, not turquoise or aquamarine or whatever.

      Fiorina book review due Friday, March 22d.

      For the Class of February 20th:

      Dauntless John and Courageous Alyssa will present three-page seminar papers on the assigned reading: Matthew Glassman's "Congressional Leadership: A Resource Perspective," chapter 2 in Jacob Kraus's Party and Procedure in the United States Congress, available in the bookstore.

      The papers should be no less than two and one-half and no more than three pages in length. They should consist of no more than one page of summary—everybody in the class has read the Kraus article, so you do not have to repeat what everyone has already read. Simply show us that you have read the whole article. Focus on one part of Glassman's argument to compare and contrast to what we have already read in the class thus far. Do not confuse a scholarly assessment with your personal impressions: your commentary must bring in material that we have studied in other readings.

      The mid-term is the following week: Febaruary 27th. Catch up on your reading now!

      For the Class of February 13th:

      Please read (1) Gary Jacobson's article "Partisanship, Money, and Competition" (extra copies are available in the rack on my office door) and prepare a one-page outline (to hand in at the beginning of class) as I explained in class and (2) the following parts of Morris Fiorina, Congress: Keystone of the Washington Establishment, Second Edition: Preface to the second edition, Introduction to Part One, and chapters 1, 2, & 3. This will serve as an introduction to the book that you must review by March 13th. The Jacobson outline will take the place of a quiz. Make two copies—one for you and one for me. The one you hand in must be typed.

      For the Class of February 6:

      Two (2) readings for Wednesday: Davidson's "Subcommittee Government" and Rieselbach's "Assessing Congressional Change." Make sure you have both of them: extra copies are in the rack on my office door. They total over fifty pages; allow yourself enough time to read both of them.

      For each article, jot down the author's main point or thesis before you come to class. How does each author, Davidson and Rieselbach, support or prove that point in the article? Are the two articles in conflict with each other? Consistent with each other? We will have a short quiz at the beginning of class; make sure you get there in time to take it.

      Make sure you have the Fiorina text for the February 13 class.

      For the Class of January 30:

      Please read the article by James Sundquist, "Endemic Weaknesses of the Congress," that was handed out in class. Please prepare a list of the five main points that Sundquist makes in the article. The list will serve as the basis of class discussion and will be handed in to me, so type it up with your name on it.

      Take a look at the articles linked below:

      Friedman and Holden: "The Rising Incumbent Reelection Rate: What's Gerrymandering Got to Do With It?"

      "Best and Worst Bosses on Capitol Hill"

      Also, you should be interested in hearing a discussion of the 2012 election by Dave Walker, a political campaign consultant, next Thursday, January 31st, at 12:30pm in the Reinsch auditorium.

      The next few assignments will be articles and chapters by Roger Davidson ("Subcommittee Government") and Leroy Rieselbach ("Assessing Congressional Change") for February 6th, and Gary Jacobson again ("Partisanship, Money, and Competition") as well as Morris Fiorina (Congress: Keystone of the Washington Establishment) for February 13th. The articles will chart the changes in congressional structure from the late 19th century to the present. Be sure to order your copy of Morris Fiorina's Congress: Keystone of the Washington Establishment, 2d. ed., soon.

      For the Class of January 23:

      Please read the Jacobson chapter on congressional candidates for next week. You might also be interested in this article by Friedman and Holden: "The Rising Incumbent Reelection Rate: What's Gerrymandering Got to Do With It?", that I mentioned in class. It will give you a chance to use your statistics course skills a bit, too. Here is another article of interest, perhaps, from Wednesday's Washington Times: "Best and Worst Bosses on Capitol Hill".

      The next few assignments will be articles and chapters by James Sundquist ("Endemic Weaknesses of Congress") for January 30th, Roger Davidson ("Subcommittee Government") and Leroy Rieselbach ("Assessing Congressional Change") for February 6th, and Gary Jacobson ("Partisanship, Money, and Competition") for February 13th. The articles will chart the changes in congressional structure from the late 19th century to the present. Be sure to order your copy of Morris Fiorina's Congress: Keystone of the Washington Establishment, 2d. ed., soon. You will need it by the fourth week of class.

      Outlines

      The assignments below were from previous offerings of the course and will shortly be erased. Take a look if you wish.

      For the Final:

      As explained in class, the final will be based on the readings since the last mid-term exam: namely (as I recall), Dodd and Oppenheimer chapters 7, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 18. (I think that's right. If not I'll correct it later today.) These chapters will be the focus of the exam questions, but don't forget the S¨undquist article in particular and all the rest of the junk we learned this semester in general. Try to identify the thesis or the main point of the authors in these chapters.

      I will select five of the seven articles for the final exam and base one question on each of those five. You must answer any two questions but not a question that is based on the article that you reported on in class. I will post more detailed information on the exam questions here later this week: CHECK IT OUT! Bring a couple of blue and black pens and your ID number.

      I have graded all of the papers, quizzes, etc. that you have handed in and put them in the rack on the wall across from my office door.

      For the Class of December 7th:

      Seminar papers will be presented by Bryan (ch. 11), Samira (ch. 15), and Brian (ch. 18).

      For the Class of November 29th:

      Urvi (ch. 14) and Lindsey (ch. 16) are up. If you were not in class on November 22d, talk to someone who attended to find out what is necessary for your three-page seminar paper. I will be out of town and incommunicado until Monday afternoon, November 29th.

      For the Class of November 22d:

      Meryam (ch. 7) and James (ch.10) are up.

      For the Class of November 15th

      The exam on congressional procedures and organization will be the only assignment. It will cover the handouts that I gave you and the Sundquist article that we went over on Monday evening.

      The main concern of the exam is your understanding of key concepts, institutions, and procedures of the House and the Senate, such as the filibuster, the importance of the House Rules Committee, the seniority system, and so on. You should understand the general course of law-making—the necessary steps in enacting legislation, the many different sources of the words that go into the final Act, and the places along the road to enactment where language can be added to or taken from the legislative measures under consideration. There will accordingly be a number of relatively short questions—definitions, descriptions, explanations—and you will have a choice of which to answer.

      Come with a couple of blue or black pens and your student ID number. Ciao!

      The assignment for November 22d is chapters 10 and 7 of the Dodd and Oppenheimer text. Two students should volunteer to present short seminar papers on the chapters (one on each chapter). The other five students will do the same for the last two classes of the semester, November 29th and December 6th.

      For Monday, November 8th:

      Two things are due: first, the analysis of the elections that you are following, and second, the reading of the Sundquist chapter. There will probably be a quiz on the chapter.

      Remember, the election analysis should be a methodical, carefully structured review of critical election factors that we have been reading about in the Jacobson, Fiorina, and Wright-Erickson texts. It is the exam on what you have learned from those sources. I suggested dividing the analysis into a section on national factors and a section on candidate factors. A brief political history of the election district is also in order. Where possible, compare and contrast characteristics of the two elections that you have followed (gotta be two!). Typed, double=spaced, title page, handed in, etc.

      For Monday, November 1st:

      Please read the handouts on House floor procedure and the House Rules Committee; also, please find out about the so-called Slaughter Rule that was instrumental in passing the health care legislation last year. There will be a quiz. I will return the reviews of Fiorina, along with a sample that I have prepared. Also, bring your copies of Jacobson and Dodd and Oppenheimer to class with you.

      Here is the Cook Political Report home page. I have found Cook to be less generous with its public information than Rasmussen in the past, but there is a lot of useful stuff here. Cook is highly respected. And here's another Real Clear Politics. And another: House Elections/New York Times, Senate Elections/New York Times.

      For Monday, October 25th:

      Please read the handouts on Senate floor procedure. Prepare to give a progress report on the elections that you are following.

      For Monday, October 18th:

      We have a two-week break until the next class. We will then begin a review of the way Congress works. Please read the two handouts that I gave you on Monday. Extra copies are in the rack on the wall across from my office door in Rowley.

      For Monday, October 4th:

      As you read Fiorina's book and write your review, use the Memo on Article and Book Reviews that is linked on my main webpage under "Useful Links." Here are some additional points to address in your five-to-seven page review:

      1. What fundamental question does Fiorina's research address?
      2. What answers, that is, hypotheses, does he consider? why does he reject them (if, indeed, he rejects them)?
      3. .
      4. What is his final answer to the question; that is, his thesis?
      5. How does he go about proving his answer/thesis? That is, what evidence does he adduce in support of his thesis?
      6. How did later elections affect his thesis? Did later elections support or undercut his original argument?
      7. Does Fiorina amend his thesis in light of these later events?

      You do not have to touch on each one of these points, but they point the way through his argument from beginning to end. Focus on one of these points more than on the others, and use materials from Jacobson, Wright and Erickson, and/or Mayhew in your commentary. Remember, it is a review—a critique, an evaluation—not a high school book report.

      Thanks, James, for the New York Times website on the 2010 elections: House Elections. Try it!

      For Monday, September 27th:

      Please come to class with a one-page written description of the congressional race(s) that you are following this Fall. The report, which will be read in class and then handed in, should explain what makes the race problematical—why is the incumbent in trouble? Why is this open seat in a normally Democratic district or state leaning Republican this year? Who are the candidates? In short, the kind of factors and variables that Jacobson, Wright and Erickson, and Fiorina find significant. Please read Jacobson Chapters 5 and 7.

      For Monday, September 20th:

      Please read Jacobson, chapters 3 and 4, on campaigns and elections, and also read news accounts of the Tuesday (September 14th) primary elections.

      For Monday, September 13th:

      Please read Jacobson, chapter 1, 2, & 6; Fiorina, "Introduction to Part One" and chapter 1; Dodd and Oppenheimer, chapter 4. As I explained, this is twice the size of the usual assignment because of the missed class on Labor Day.

      Also, be sure to identify a couple of congressional elections, either from your state or any place else in the country, that look close or undecided at this point. Bring in a few candidates to class and your reasons for selecting the races to follow. This is the basis for your first paper in November.

      Miscellaneous Materials on Campaigns and Elections

      Gallup Polls

      Rasmussen Political Polling Reports

      The Cook Political Report

      "Incumbency, Redistricting, Decline of Competition"

      Voter Values

      Election 2002

      Miscellaneous Materials on Congress

      Incumbency Re-election Rates (Thirty-Thousand Org.)

      Incumbency Re-election Rates (Center for Responsive Politics)

      Original Gerrymandered District. William Safire says, in his New Political Dictionary, that Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry, for whom it was named, signed the 1811 redistricting bill reluctantly. For what it is worth, the original gerrymander was intended to favor the Democrats. Compare it to North Carolina District 12.

      GOP Congressional Leadership Disagreement (2003 article)

      Filibusters: Going Nuclear (2003 article)

      "Congress's Afterthought, Wall Street's Trillion Dollars."

      The Congressional Review Act.

      Congressional Elections, 1900-2008.

      Speakers of the House of Representatives

      House Rules Committee

      Material below is from past semesters of Senior Seminar. Disregard it.

      For Monday, March 17th:

      The Keynes and Myrdal readings are due the following class on St. Patrick's Day, March 17th. Askins, Carlo, and Gerlach are up with three-page seminar papers on the readings.

      Please read the pieces by FDR and by Lord Lindsay in the handout and come prepared to discuss them. The general topic for the five seminar sessions will be the development of twentieth century American liberalism and conservatism. Since American liberalism developed first and conservatism developed in response (odd, no?), we will first look at the origins of the welfare state and social democracy in England and the United States. The FRD campaign speech and the article by British Labourite Lord Lindsay of Birker describe the political foundation for the stream of political thought that we presently identify as "liberalism" or "progressivism" in the United states and that is generally referred to as social democracy. Enjoy!

      F

      I am going to assume, for the following remarks and when I grade your final draft, that you have reviewed the Lamoreaux article and used it, where applicable, as a model for your paper. I wanted to point out a few things to you. First, the Lamoreaux article is, of course, quite a bit longer than your paper will be; keep that in mind. Second, note how in the opening pages she sets up the problem that she will address in the paper. She identifies two different groups of scholars and fairly characterizes their views. She then sets about showing that neither group's explanation of the origins of American capitalism is quite correct, or, better, neither is quite as good as her explanation. This is exactly what you should do and show in your paper.

      She also explains at the outset how she will go about supporting her view--her thesis--so that the reader knows what to expect in the upcoming pages. And, after making her argument, she offers a conclusion that restates her answer-thesis and recaps her criticisms of the others.

      I strongly suggest that you follow this general outline. I suggest that you use more section headings than she does, even in your shorter paper. Note also how she puts a lot of content in her footnotes, which is a very common practice: I suggest it to you.

      One of the articles that I wanted you to read and study as a rough model for your theses is Naomi R Lamoreaux, "Rethinking the transition to capitalism in the early American Northeast," The Journal of American History 90 (September 2003): 437, available on ProQuest in full text version or in the library stacks in hard copy. I will try to list a couple other good models for you to use. Since we will not have a class before the final drafts are due, I must mention a few things that I was going to bring up on Monday.

      1. Please make your notations--notes and "Selected Bibliography"--adhere rigidly to the Chicago Style Manual, as explained in Turabian. No exceptions. Turabian is also a good source of grammatical rules. USE IT.
      2. Make sure your paper has headings and sub-headings throughout the paper to let the reader know where he is in your argument.
      3. As I indicated in class, and in most of the drafts that I have returned to you, be sure to state in the first page or two the SPECIFIC QUESTION that you address in your paper and the conflicting sources that gave rise to this question. Also indicate how you will answer that question. This must be done in the introduction--no more than two or two and one-half pages at the beginning of the paper.
      4. Proofread the final draft carefully for errors. I get nasty about this.

      For Monday, April 2d:

      We will discuss the Churchill article on "Consistency in Politics." I believe that Emily and Brian will present papers. If I am wrong on that, let me know.

      The proposal and annotated bibliography is due and one-third to one-half of your research should already be completed. A memo with guidelines for the Proposal and Annotated bibliography are linked on my web page under "Useful Links." Use that format. By Monday, you must also have met with me twice (all of you have met with me once; a couple a couple have met twice) and with your second reader once. When you drop off your Proposal, I will give you a copy of the first essay that we will discuss on Monday, February 26th. Keep working.

      An article in The Atlantic on Samuel Huntington by Robert Kaplan is available on this link. Give it a look!

      Some basic reminders for the final drafts.

      The readers of the senior theses will be asked to grade the paper not as a normal research paper for a semester course but as a demonstration of a student's best work, culminating his college career. With that in mind, please remember the following:

      1. All footnotes and bibliographical entries must be in proper Chicago Style form. Go over your footnotes from the first draft, and insert ibids and shortened references as appropriate. See Turabian, ch. 8.

      2. Make sure that the papers have page numbers on each page (except the Title Page).

      3. Make sure that the papers are divided into parts with headings and subheadings, and that the table of contents (mandatory!) refers to these headings and subheadings.

      4. The opening page or two should clearly explain the problem that you address, the thesis that you propose, and the basic organization of the paper that follows.

      5. Finally, I shall apply the usual formula of "two errors, plus one per page" to grading the papers; more errors than this will result in a failing grade. So PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD!!!

      Monday, December 18th, at 3:00pm is the drop dead deadline for submission of the papers. Any paper received after that will be penalized.