I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material there. We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience. You will all receive invitations to post to the blog. (Please let me know if you do not get such an invitation.) I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:
To post questions or comments about the readings before we discuss them in class;
To follow up on class discussions with additional comments or questions.
To post relevant news items or videos.

There are only two major limitations: no coarse language, and no derogatory comments about people at the Claremont Colleges.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

First Essay Assignment

Choose one:

  1. Pick any House seat that changed party hands in 2010. Explain the outcome, with reference to candidates, the district’s characteristics, and the larger political climate.  Is the same party likely to hold the seat in 2012?
  2. Pick a competitive 2012 Senate race.  Why is it competitive?  Explain who will win and why.  In your answer, consider state politics, national trends, and the characteristics of the candidates.
  3. Compare and contrast John Boehner’s first year as speaker with Newt Gingrich’s.  What did he seem to learn from Gingrich’s experience?  In your answer, consider each speaker’s strategic context, including the partisan makeup of the two chambers and the presidency, as well as the internal dynamics of the GOP Conference.
  4. If you have access to video equipment, make a campaign ad for or against someone running for the House or Senate in 2012.   Post it on YouTube, then write a three-page essay explaining the strategic and tactical purpose of the ad.  That is, how would you expect it to influence votes in this constituency?
Essays should reflect an understanding of class readings and discussions. Many resources, including CQ Weekly and Politics in America are at  http://library.cqpress.com.  Also go to the library and see The Almanac of American Politics.  You should check other sources as well. See:

  • Essays should be typed, stapled, double-spaced, and no more than three pages long.  I will not read past the third page.  
  • Put your name on a cover sheet.  Do not identify yourself on the text pages.  
  • Cite your sources.  You may use either endnotes or parenthetical references to a bibliography.  In either case, put your documentation in a standard format (e.g., Turabian or Chicago Manual of Style).  
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation.  Errors will count against yo
Return essays by the start of class, Wednesday, February 8.  Papers will drop one gradepoint for one day’s lateness, a full letter grade after that.

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