Carnahan Hall    Russell Renka

Renka's Home Page
Department of Political Science, Philosophy & Religion
OIS sites:
    Forum; Gradebook; Drop Box
My Southeast and Southeast Portal
Professor Renka's PS360 Links on parties, voters, and elections
POP - The APSA Organized Section on Political Organizations and Parties
Voting in Cape Girardeau:  Refer to Election Information from the Cape Girardeau County Clerk's Office
Kent Library Homepage; or register at Missouri First Vote 2004 Voting In College
    JSTOR - Journal Resources; JSTOR Journals Browser#Political Science
    Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe
Essay 3 (optional) - due on or before midnight on Friday, December 12 at the Drop Box  under "optional Essay 3" heading

PS360 Syllabus - Political Parties and Voting Behavior
Professor Russell Renka - Fall 2008

PS360 - Political Parties and Voting Behavior Professor Russell D. Renka
Fall 2008 - Course no. 10783 Campus Office:  Carnahan 211L
MWF 11:00-11:50 a.m. Office Hours:  MWF 9:00-9:50 a.m.
Classroom:  Carnahan Hall, Room 210 Office Telephone:  (573) 651-2692
Home Website: Office FAX: (573) 651-2695
Email: Departmental Telephone:  (573) 651-2183

PS360 Syllabus Sections - Fall 2008:
    On-line Instructor Suite
    Course Books and Readings
    Course Requirements
    Standards of Conduct
    Journal and On-line Resources
    Reaching me
    Weekly Topics and Readings

Introduction                       Next down; Top

    This course addresses topics at the very core of the practice of American democratic politics:  the behavior of voters and non-voters, the creation and maintenance of political parties, and the conduct of competitive elections for public office.  These are not separate topics, for parties are essential in every democracy (but not in non-democracies) to running elections and governing the polity.  Parties are currently regarded with great suspicion by most middle-class Americans, yet we have found no alternative to them.

    First up is why political parties are essential parts of a democracy.  We answer that with theory from political science filtered through the uniquely American tradition of having just two national political parties with a realistic chance for each to elect a President and control the national Congress.  It is unusual among democracies to do this, as we shall see.  We take a comparative look at party systems (contrasting American to foreign systems) and a historical one (evaluating past American party practices).  We distinguish parties from interest groups, political factions, and political coalitions.  We look at parties as organizations, which run elections, including the complicated American national primary system.  We look at the strange current system of financing parties and candidates.  We look directly at national and state elections, with intensive review of recent national results including the bizarre doings last year in Florida.  We study voters and nonvoters, together with the business of polling by which we learn about it.  We look at parties-in-government, as the central organizing entity of the national legislature and most state assemblies.  Finally, we look closely at the current and future relevance of political parties in the American polity.

On-line Instructor Suite                    Next down; Top

    OIS is run by Center for Scholarship in Teaching and Learning.  OIS gives you access to a class bulletin board (Forum), locale to post for posting papers and assignments (Drop Box), and your personal grade and assignment record (Gradebook). 

PS360 Course Books and Readings:              Next down; Top

    The Textbook at Southeast Bookstore is:  Morton, Rebecca B.  2006.  Analyzing Elections.  New York:  W.W. Norton.

    Additional readings come from website materials and journal articles specified in the Weekly Topics and Reading (below).  Two major sources are: 1) Symposium: Voting Gaps in the 2004 Election from PS: Political Science and Politics - July 2006; and 2) Pew Center's Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes:  1987-2007.

     You can find valuable resources at high-level syllabi from courses taught elsewhere.  Morton has an excellent one at http://Field Seminar in American Politics - Politics G53.1300.001, Spring 2006.

PS360 Course Requirements                  Next down; Top

One can earn up to 1000 credit points in the course.  These divide among four categories:
            600 points - three exams worth 200 points each (100 in class, 100 via take-home essay)
            200 points - term paper
            100 points - classroom assignments, roundtables
            100 points - Forum participation

Examinations:  Each examination has two 100-point sections.  First is an in-class objective type of exam consisting of multiple-choice questions derived from readings and class lecture/discussion (100 points).  Second is a take-home essay of some two and a half to three pages on a specified topic (also 100 points).  The final is not comprehensive; rather, it is really exam no. 3 on the third and last section of the course.  Total valuation of exams is 600 points.

Term Paper (200 points):  Follow the "ten and ten" rule:  a term paper should be an honest 10-pager with ten or more sources.  Shorter papers and those with few sources are typically the result of casual or last minute efforts.  No one could use that approach to successfully perform in a play, run well in a distance race, maintain a great love relationship, or rise to a new and higher job in the work world.  Neither can a good paper be written that way.  I expect you to select a topic and clear it with me.  You can start this at any time not later than times outlined below.  Here are dates for steps toward completion of the term paper:
             Monday, September 22 (start of Week 5):  due date for topic selection (subject to revision or change later on)
            Monday, October 20 (Week 9):  deadline for topical outline plus sources (with a minimum of ten separate sources).
            Friday, November 21 (Week 13):  deadline for submitting drafts at Drop Box under "Final Paper" heading (I will review and amend a draft if you choose to turn one in.  This is not required and does not involve a grade, but is just about guaranteed to make for a better final paper!)
            Friday, December 5 (end of Week 15):  final paper deadline at Drop Box under "Final Paper" heading

In-class assignments- "The Great Divide":
   There has never been a modern period with such division of partisans as now in America.  We'll explore why this is so with a classroom discussion.  Each of you will " choose a side" for this in-class exercise.  Details will be forthcoming on the Forum and in later versions of this syllabus.  Background is shown now in Week 11 of the Itinerary at end of October.  Value of participation:  100 points.

Forum participation:  Everyone should read the on-line Forum and make periodic postings there.  This site will include material I covered in class, and any related political or public happenings and news.  It's an ideal place to post queries about what lecture or readings are about.  I'll inventory participation and periodically post it on an entry slot in the Gradebook.  Credit applies only to meaningful participation, that is, saying something that contributes to furtherance of a conversation on one or more appropriate topics.    Board Value is 6 points per meaningful posting, up to 100 points total.

Grades:  The online Gradebook posts interim grades and the eventual course grade, to let you keep up with your assignments and grades.  It includes the criteria for A, B, C, and D level performances so you can track your performance whenever you wish.

Standards of Conduct                  Next down; Top

    This section refers to disabilities, class attendance, cell phones, text messaging, guns, personal disruptions, cheating, plagiarism, and paper citations.  Some of this isn't fun for me to say or you to read, but it's all important.  I ask every student to carefully read this section.  Once classes commence, I'll assume you have read this and are responsible for heeding it.

    Any student with a disability that may require special accommodation should contact me about that as soon as the need is recognized.  I will take all reasonable measures to assist you so long as they're within the law and not an undue burden on me or on other students.  Experience shows that many special needs can readily be met, but only if I know about them.  So please visit with me about that.  I'll hold our discussion in strict confidence and will do what I can.

    Good students regularly attend classes, while poor ones often don't.  You're expected to attend all regularly scheduled classes within reasonable time of their start.  Each session you'll have a sign-in sheet based on your classroom seat.  I use those to call names and make queries.  I keep an open door as a rule and do understand delays on entry due to other classes, inclement weather, and gossip time; but be reasonable and do avoid habitual late entries.   If you know you'll need to leave a class early, just advise me in advance of that.  If it's sudden and necessary to leave, then do so but let me know next time what's happened.

    Cell phones may attend my classes only when turned off.  Should one ring anyhow, please silence it immediately and tell the offending implement "no mas!" or its equivalent.  If you must be on phone alert, use only vibrate or a visual signaler.  If you must take the call, kindly leave class to do so--and only for emergency, at that.

    And now on text messaging:  as with Nancy Reagan on illegal drugs, just say no while in class.  There are two reasons why.  One is that I don't buy into the general belief that this generation is adept at multi-tasking so that they can pay attention in class and send messages at the same time.  Automobile drivers are dangerous when a cell phone is attached to one hand and ear, because they pay no damned attention to other drivers.  This summer I saw someone texting while driving 75mph on a Dallas urban freeway.  Not good.  As for the second reason, it's cheating during exams.  Messaging invites a modern version of whispering an answer or glomming your neighbor's paper; it's a new variant on old-fashioned cheating.

    I'm not trying to be anti-tech.  Laptops are A-OK in class (but no solitaire, please).  So are tape recorders.  I encourage both.

    But I do discourage guns.  Real weapons may not attend any of my classes.  The State of Missouri passed a 'concealed carry' gun statute in 2003, leaving many unanswered questions on when and where it's permissible to pack concealed heat.  My rule is very simple:  no firearms of any kind are permitted in any of my classes, or in my office, under any circumstances.  Should there be a violation, I will not confront the offender.   Instead I will contact the university's legal authorities and have them press action to ensure that the offender may not continue this practice.  There are no exceptions to this rule unless the student is:  a) a law enforcement authority authorized to carry a gun in the normal performance of duties, and b) this student gets my advance clearance to carry in class.  Note:  None of this refers to minor weapons such as Swiss Army knives, Gerber tools, nail files, or the like.  I refer to guns.

    I've never had a seriously disruptive student in a class, but hear from others that some problems exist along this line.  If someone is seriously disruptive during class in such manner as makes you or others uncomfortable with being there, please advise me of that.  We have lively conversations that address politics, so I don't refer to strongly worded opinions or even an occasional shout.  I mean personal behavior that seriously offends you or others.  That might include sexual harassment.  My policy is to directly ask the party to cease the offending behavior.  Should that fail, then I bring the university legal authority in to resolve the issue.  I can't be more specific than that, for the moment.

    I can be very specific about cheating.  See Southeast's Academic Honesty brochure on this subject.  I had a certain nasty little cheater in 2003, haven't forgotten that, and have since studied some methods for catching and docking offenders.  If a student cheats on an assignment, it's an automatic zero grade on that work.  If there's evidence of cheating on more than one assignment, it's a zero on each affected assignment.  Once I have documented evidence, then I first confront the offender to elicit an explanation of the behavior, after which I file a report with the Department chair.  If I catch the evidence post hoc and cannot confront the offender, I proceed directly to the report.

    Plagiarism is a common form of cheating and a chronic plague of the academic community.  It refers, of course, to someone taking the work of others and passing it off as his or her own.  It can be as simple as taking a quotation and failing to show it properly, to lifting an entire piece verbatim and pasting it to one's own paper or exam.  The common element of this noxious practice is always the same, namely that of falsely claiming for oneself that which another person has created.  In the commercial world, plagiarism brings lawsuits for copyright violation.  In the academic world, it brings verdicts of both moral and academic failure on the offender.  For insight on what it is, see Southeast's Academic Honesty brochure, or Professor Hamner Hill's Policy on Plagiarism.

    I do not tolerate plagiarism.  I check for it--and know from bitter experience and plenty of web-smarts how to find it.  If the plagiarism is intentional, I report that as a violation of the University's academic integrity policy while assigning that paper or exam an irreversible grade of zero.  If it is not, I return the paper without a grade to its creator for immediate and thorough correction.

    The best method of avoiding plagiarism is to acquire the habit of properly citing your source material as you go along.  I do so above on the listed books for this course.  The books do so as well. I do not stipulate a particular source guide, but will expect you to cite one in your References section of any term paper.  See Kent Library Learn - Tools for citing sources for proper use of MLA, APA, Chicago Style, and others.  I employ APA myself, but any of them are fine.  The core rule is simple:  cite your stuff so that anyone who reads your paper can easily track its sources.  So give full citation to all sources, including names of all authors, the book/article/website file name or name and position of an interviewee, and all publication information (publisher's location, publisher's name, year of pub, volume and issue of journal, URL of a website plus date of its access).  If you got specific information from one page of a 900-page tome, do the reader the courtesy of citing that page so they can avoid poring through 899 superfluous pages.  Simple.

     Websites are a special problem for proper citation.  Please do not cite a URL alone, as URLs are frequently changed.  If I cannot find your URL, then it won't count as a source.  Cite the author, the filename, the URL, and the date or dates of access.  Filenames are easily acquired from Google, or just take the article's self-assigned title at its heading.  A general guide on separating good from crappy websites is Evaluating Websites from Donnelley and Lee Library in Chicago.  On use of blogs:  better establish why it is authoritative enough to use.  Some are, but others are just rants.  As a professional skeptic, I won't assume a blog is valid; you have to establish that it is.  On Wikipedia, I will accept these, but only when coupled with another source on same subject.  Wikipedia is useful, but error-prone; so cross-check anything you get from them.

    For local writing help, visit our Online Writing Lab.  A webguide is Expository Writing - Resources at Harvard.  For how-to guidance on writing by political science students, see Excerpts-Van Evera at  There is always Strunk and White:  see Bartleby's Strunk, William, Jr. 1918. The Elements of Style for on-line use.  And for the godmother of all sources, confer the Chicago Manual of Style - Q&A.  Splendid.

    To do a web search now, look to:


Journal and On-line Resources:                 Next down; Top

   The best work on political parties and elections is in the broadly defined political science journals.  These are filled with articles on topics relevant to us.  Among these are American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, British Journal of Political Science, American Politics Quarterly, and Political Research Quarterly.  Also see Parties and Elections.  Access the first three of these via JSTOR Journals Browser#Political Science.   You'll find nine major journals there.

    Among monthly magazine journals, nuts-and-bolts practice of politics by campaign professionals is shown in Campaigns and Elections.  Weekly journals of considerable value for regular Washington watchers are Congressional Quarterly Weekly (for Capitol Hill, chiefly), and National Journal (especially useful for stuff "downtown" in the executive agencies and White House).  All are on Kent Library's open shelves.

    For other on-line resources, see my PS360 Links - Russell D. Renka.

Reaching me:                       Next down; Top

   I have an open door policy, and I normally lurk very near my office computer in Room 211L of the Political Science office suite on Floor 2 of the Carnahan Building.   You can leave messages for me there if I am absent.  In general, I can be reached as follows:
    a) Leave a message at my Department mailbox or with the department office.
    b) Leave a message at the drop outside my door at Carnahan 211L.
    c) Place a voice mail message at 573-651-2692.
    d) Email me at
    e) If you're out of town and cannot send a paper or assignment by email, then FAX it to 573/651-2695.
    f) Consult my website at Home Page (or for other details about myself and my courses, including this syllabus.

PS360 Weekly Topics and Readings - Fall 2008                Top

Master Calendar - click at upper left corner for Academic Calendar

Week 1 - August 25-29, 2008     How elections rule American politics
Note:  I'll be in Boston on Wednesday and Friday for the American Political Science Association annual meeting.  We'll have a guest presentation on Friday from Professor Debra Holzhauer on Duverger's law.  On Wednesday there is no class, but you should read and watch the Presidential Nomination Process 2008 from my colleague, Professor Rick Althaus, who is attending the Democratic National Convention this week in Denver as a delegate from this area.  Go to the Forum for commentary and questions on this.  We'll discuss it all in Week 2 on Wednesday (September 3) after Labor Day.
    Morton text (Text), Chapter 1 - How elections rule American politics
    start Morton (text) Chapter 2 - Understanding Turnout
    Presidential Nomination Process 2008 from Professor Rick Althaus
    Comparative perspective on political parties in democracies - Duverger's law - Wikipedia
    Duverger, Maurice.  1972.  "Factors in a Two-Party and Multiparty System" - The Technical Factor
    Erik Moberg, A Theory of Democratic Politics, 6.1 - The Number of Parties
    Russell Renka, American Duopoly

Week 2 - September 3,5     Voters and voter turnout
Note:  Monday, September 1, is Labor Day.  No classes are held.
    finish Morton (text) Chapter 2 - Understanding Turnout
    Michael McDonald, United States Election Project: Voter Turnout for 1948-2008 (with VEP and VAP); details on 2008:  Voter Turnout 2008 General Election
    2008 Turnout changes - Jennifer Steinhauer, G.O.P. Drops in Voting Rolls in Many States, New York Times, 8/5/08

Week 3 - September 8-12     Trends in voter mobilization
    Text Chapter 3 - Trends in voter mobilization (why it's become the dominant element in modern elections)
    Resources:  the infamous Palm Beach County 2000 presidential election "butterfly ballot" (entered at Google for images) - (to see the real ballot); The for analysis; and (one cartoonist's take on the thing) and (another take)

Week 4 - September 15-19    Candidates, Primaries, and Ideological Divergence
Note:  Constitution Day is Wednesday, September 17.  The Department is sponsoring a Symposium on Voting Rights.  Details will follow when I have them; or contact Professor Hamner Hill at the Department.
    Text Chapter 4 - Candidates, Primaries, and Ideological Divergence
    Keith Poole of UCSD:  The Ideological Structure of Congressional Voting, 1927-2000; and Keith Poole's NOMINATE Roll Call Data, 1st to 109th Congresses
    Poole (for review of spatial politics):  Chapter 1 Analyzing Congress Index, Figures 1.1 onward

Week 5 - September 22-26     Are Americans polarized over policy? 
    Text Chapter 5 - Polarized over Policy or Voting on Valence?
    Reading:  Jacobson, Gary C.  The Bush Presidency and the American Electorate - on polarization of the vote in 2000 election
    Pew Center's Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes:  1987-2007, pp. 1-63
    Keith Poole - Party Polarization in the 109th Congress (2005-06)
    resource link:  American National Election Studies Guide to Public Opinion and Electoral Behavior (NES Guide)

Week 6 - September 29-October 3     Follow the money:  How campaigns are financed **
**Monday, September 29 - Examination no. 1**
Essay 1 - due by midnight Tuesday, September 30 at the Drop Box
    supplemental (for those doing Essay 1 option on polarization):  McCarty, Poole and Rosenthal 2006 - "Does Gerrymandering Cause Polarization?" at (Abstract:  No, polarization derives primarily from representation of different interests within districts by Republicans and Democrats.)
    Text Chapter 6 - How Campaigns are financed

Week 7 - October 6-10     Follow the money:  How Campaign Money affects voters
    Text Chapter 7 - How Campaign Money Affects Voters
    Federal Election Commission, Presidential Campaign Finance Map
    Open Secrets - 2008 Presidential Election - "Banking on Becoming President" (2007-08 presidential campaign reports)
    Campaign Finance Institute, CFI Analysis of FEC Reports of Activity through August 31, 2008 - MoneyLine - 2008 Presidential Candidates Page (daily information on fundraising and spending)
    Politics - Campaign 2008 - The New York Times at; and (on right side of site) Candidate Finances >> By Geography (Maps)
     The Spot:  A political ad blog, including CMAG's Best of 2008 (see Week 8 for CMAG)
     Wisconsin Advertising Project (WiscAds)
     CMAG (Campaign Media Analysis Group) site - URL:

Week 8 - October 13-15 (M through W)     The Mass Media
Fall Break is Thursday and Friday, October 16-17.  No classes are held.
     Text Chapter 8 - The Mass Media and Voters' Attention

Week 9 - October 20-24     Those we elect
    Text Chapter 9 - Controlling the Behavior of Elected Officials

Week 10 - October 27-31    Public Opinion Polls
    Text Chapter 10 - Measuring Public Opinion
    Renka, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Public Opinion Polls
    Scott Keeter, Poll Power, October 17, 2008 at Pew Research Center for the People & the Press (summation); full paper at Poll Power, The Wilson Quarterly, Autumn 2008

2008 Pre-Election and Election data sites:
general purpose - Politics - Campaign 2008 - The New York Times
presidential forecasts based on models -
    Election 2008 APSA at;
    summation at Science News - Election Forecast;
    Pollyvote - Forecasting the US Presidential Election (consensus of 11 experts);
    DeSart's blog on DeSart and Holbrook, Presidential Election Forecasting
presidential forecasts based on polls -
    Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight - Election Projections Done Right;
    Sam Wang's Princeton Election Consortium A first draft of electoral history; > Election 2008 with WH2008 General Election Trial Heats; - 2008 Election Polls, Trends, Charts and Analysis and Award Winning Analysis of Polls and Surveys;
    RealClearPolitics > Election 2008 - General Election;
    The Cook Political Report > Presidential
Congressional forecasts based on polls -
    CQ Politics CQ Election Map; RealClearPolitics > Battle_for_Congress;
    The Cook Political Report > Senate and House
pre-election economic indicators - Gallup Daily Consumer Confidence
wagering on the results - Iowa Electronic Markets at IEM -- 2008 Presidential Election Markets Quotes
presidential election results -
    Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections - 2008;
    Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight > Electoral History Charts, 4.29.08
    Sam Wang's Princeton Election Consortium;'s President, Senate, House Updated Daily
Congressional election results -
    CQ Politics CQ Election Map;'s President, Senate, House Updated Daily
voter information - Pew Center -_2008 Election Information
voting turnout -
    Michael McDonald, Voter Turnout 2008 General compared to Voter Turnout of 2004 and earlier;
    Census Bureau's Current Population Survey > Voting and Registration Data
Voting in the rural South is still racial - "Black Persons, 1990 Census" at; Allen Gathman, "The past isn't dead; it isn't even past" at; and Russell Renka, "Presidential Election Maps, by County" at

Week 11 - November 3-7     Elections below the presidential level **
 Examination no. 2 date - Friday, November 7**
    Essay 2 - due on or before midnight Friday, November 7 at the Drop Box
    start Text Chapter 11 - Congressional Elections
    Psephos - Adam Carr's Election Archive - 2008 U.S. House Congressional Districts, by state
    the art of gerrymandering, racial and otherwise - Mark Monmonier, Spotting Bushmanders
    Keith Poole of UCSD:  The Ideological Structure of Congressional Voting, 1927-2000; and Keith Poole's NOMINATE Roll Call Data, 1st to 109th Congresses
    Renka, Russell D., Presidents and Congresses

Week 12 - November 10-14    Presidential primaries and front loading
    finish Text Chapter 11 - Congressional Elections
    Text Chapter 12 - Presidential Primaries
    The 2008 presidential primaries - The Green Papers, Election 2008 - Primary, Caucus, and Convention Phase; P2008-The 2008 Presidential Campaign; and Politics1 - 2008 U.S. Presidential Election (P2008)
    primary and caucus calendars:  National Council of State Legislatures, Presidential Primaries Calendar 2008; The Green Papers, 2008 Presidential Primaries, Caucuses, and Conventions Chronologically

Week 13 - November 17-21     Reforming the Primary System; Presidential Elections
primary reform proposals:
    - Pileup Comment The New Yorker from Hendrik Hertzberg, 16 April 2007
    - FairVote - The Delaware Plan and FairVote's Favorite -- The American Plan
    - Jessica Taylor, Fixing the Primary Scramble, Q & A with Ryan O'Donnell of FairVote, 1 November 2007 (orig. pub. in National Journal)
    - American Plan_Executive Summary_Devolution on 1976 v. 2000 and 2004 concentration of primaries (mother site:
    Text Chapter 13 - Presidential Elections (beginning)
    Renka, Russell D., The Election of 2004 and table:  Presidential Elections through 2008
    Professor Renka's Presidential Election Maps, by County
    website:  Renka, Party Control of the Presidency and Congress, 1933-2010
Friday, November 21 (Week 13):  deadline for submitting drafts at Drop Box under "Final Paper" heading

Week 14 - November 24      Presidential Elections (conclusion)
Thanksgiving Holiday is Wednesday through Friday, November 26-28.  No classes are held.
    Text Chapter 13 - Presidential Elections (conclusion)

Week 15 - December 1-5     Will third parties ever break through?
    Text Chapter 14 - Minor Parties and Independent Candidates
** Friday, December 5 (end of Week 15):  final paper deadline at Drop Box under "Final Paper" heading

Week 16 - December 8-12      Fairness and minority representation in America; looking ahead
    Text Chapter 15 - Minority Parties and Representation
    Text Chapter 16 - The Future and Analyzing Elections, pp. 641-644
Essay 3 (optional) - due on or before midnight on Friday, December 12 at the Drop Box under "optional Essay 3" heading

Final Examination Week - December 15-19
    The Final Examination is Wednesday, 10:00 a.m., December 17 in Carnahan 210.  This is "exam no. 3" rather than a comprehensive 16-week exam.  It covers the material dating from Week 11.


Copyright 2008, Russell D. Renka
Thursday, August 20, 2009 01:54:46 PM