POLS 3613: Congressional Elections

Instructor: Paul Herrnson

The outcome of the 2016 congressional elections will not only determine who controls Congress, it also will have an impact on healthcare policy, taxes, immigration reform, international relations, and who sits on the federal courts. This seminar focuses on congressional elections, drawing on examples from the upcoming election cycle.

Congressional elections will be examined from several perspectives, including those of candidates, party officials, interest group leaders, journalists, and scholars. The class will cover the backgrounds of congressional candidates; the decision to run for office; campaign finance, strategy, and communications; and the activities of political parties, interest groups, and the mass media. We also will examine the factors that separate winners from losers, the impact of elections on policymaking, and election reform.

Students who enroll in the course will receive insider perspectives from internationally-recognized political consultants from firms that have been involved in presidential, congressional, and statewide campaigns. These and briefings from other on and off campus experts will provide networking opportunities. Students who excel in the class may be offered an opportunity to work on a research project with the professor.

Requirements: Each student will become an expert on one congressional election and write a few short reports and a longer paper that draws from the reports to provide an overview of their election. Other assignments include a 2-page paper predicting the net change in the number of congressional seats held nationally by each party.  Class participation is required.

POLS 3613 is defined in the catalog as open to juniors and higher. Honors students without junior standing should email Prof. Herrnson for a permission number.