Washington Center

The Science of Politics: Campaigns and Elections

Term or Semester: 
Day and Time: 
Thursdays, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Semester Dates: 
January 10 - April 18, 2019
Semester Elective

Anyone who hopes to pursue a career in politics – or just be a good citizen – should be familiar with some basics about the electorate and the mechanics of election campaigns.  Also, although energy, hard work, creativity, and political instinct cannot be taught, there are specific technical skills that are crucial in modern campaigns. These include knowledge of the fundamental factors that drive elections and public opinion as well familiarity with survey research, statistical analysis, and media buying.

This class will teach you how to understand the fundamental factors that drive elections in America and to learn some of the skills employed by political professionals.  Your assignments will require you to apply the lessons of this class to real time events.  We will take special advantage of the fact that this class is taking place after the 2016 and 2018 elections.  We will use recent results from 2016 and 2018 to illustrate major concepts and will look forward to the 2020 presidential primaries and general election. We are in a data and information rich environment. 

The goal in this class is to go beyond the spin and hyperbole of many election commentators about a particular contest.  The goal is to help you understand how voters decide and how strategists persuade and to give you some of the technical skills to get an interesting job with a campaign.  This class will combine the insights of campaign professionals with insight from the study of previous campaigns and scholarly research.  It will combine theory, practice, and exploration, taking the insights of political scientists and political practitioners and rolling them into one. 


Draft Syllabus

Course ID: