POL 320 The Congress

Final Examination Study Questions, Fall 2010


As you study for the exam, consider the questions that I pose below. The exam questions will not be identical to these study questions, but I will not steer you wrong here. Remember, (1) only five of these chapters will appear on the exam, (2) you may not answer the question that is based upon the chapter you reported on in class, so (3) you do not have to study that chapter ever again, for the rest of your life!


In Steven Smith and Gerald Gamm’s article, “The Dynamics of Party Government in Congress” (Chapter 7), they discuss the factors associated with strong and weak leadership of the congressional parties in the House and the Senate. What is this “CPG” theory they are talking about? What does it explain? How does it help us understand the present organization of the congressional parties? To what theory is CPG superior, according to the authors? (Does Sundquist help here?)


In John Aldrich and David Rohde’s “Congressional Committees in a Continuing Partisan Era” (Chapter 10), the authors look at the transformation of the party-committee balance in Congress from the 1970s to the present. According to the authors, what has the role of committees been in the era of Republican (1994-2006) and Democratic leadership (2006-2010)? From the perspective of the “law of conservation of energy” that I explained in class (the total amount of congressional power always remains the same but is allocated differently at different times), what has happened over the past fifty years to the power of congressional committees and committee chairmen? Why have the changes taken place? (Does Sundquist help here?)



In Chapter 11 of Dodd and Oppenheimer, “The Politics of Advice and Consent: Putting Judges on the Federal Bench,” authors Sarah Binder and Forrest Maltzman look at the changes over the past century in the politics of the confirmation of federal judges. Do Binder and Maltzman discuss the confirmation process for judges of all federal courts? If not, which court(s)? What factors account for the alterations in the confirmation process that began in the 1980s?


In William Howell and Douglas Kriner’s article entitled Congress, the President, and the Iraq War’s Domestic Political Front” (Chapter 14), the authors examine the extent to which and the methods by which Congress influences American war policies. Do the authors argue that Congress is fulfilling its constitutional functions? Explain. In recent decades how does Congress influence war and foreign policy, according to the authors?

(Does Sundquist help here?)


Representative Daniel Lipinski discusses the requirements for successfully pushing legislation through Congress in “Navigating Congressional Policy Processes: The Inside Perspective on How Laws Are Made” (Chapter 15).

Does he focus on the requirements for party leaders or for rank-and-file members of Congress? What requirements does he consider essential? How do his case studies demonstrate the importance of these requirements? (Does Oleszek help here?)


Joseph Cooper, in “From Congressional to Presidential Preeminence: Power and Politics in Late Nineteenth Century America and Today” (Chapter 16), attempts to understand the shift of power from Congress to the President in the past few decades. According to Cooper, why does the growth of presidential power make the

(Does Sundquist help here?)


Lawrence Dodd and Bruce Oppenheimer review the 2008 national elections in “Congressional Politics in a Time of Crisis: the 2008 Elections and Their Importance” (Chapter 18) and attempt to predict future election outcomes on the basis of the past few elections. To what extent do the authors attribute the outcomes of the elections to national factors as opposed to candidate-centered factors in the 2006 and 2008 and their predictions for the 2010 elections? (Do Jacobson and Wright-Erikson help here?)