This class will teach you how to better understand the fundamental factors that drive elections in America and to learn some of the skills employed by political professionals. Many of your assignments will require you to apply the lessons of this class to real time events. Pundits and other observers have already generated a phenomenal amount of analysis, commentary, and predictions – and occasionally they have even been right. Our goal in this class is to go beyond the spin and hyperbole of many election commentators and understand how voters decide and how strategists persuade. It is not a “how to” class, but instead will combine the insights of campaign professionals with insight from the study of previous campaigns and core academic knowledge. In short, this class will combine theory, practice, and exploration, taking the insights of political scientists and political practitioners and rolling them into one. We will take advantage of our unique access to political professionals in DC. These political professionals will join us during normal class time, but I will also arrange other times for us to meet. For example, two consultants with extensive experience negotiating debate rules and preparing candidates for presidential debates will join us to watch one of the presidential debates.