Political Parties, Campaigns, and Elections in the United States

Teacher: Jim Bolner, Sr. - Tuesdays, 9:30-11:30 a.m.

I. Introduction to the electoral system
"Democracy" and "Republican Government"
Electoral systems and free elections
The franchise, voting qualifications, and the federal system
Single-member and multi-member districts
Winner take all systems and proportional representation

II. Constitutional and statutory provisions and judicial rulings
Federal constitutional election provisions 
Federal constitutional guarantees
The Electoral College: electing the President and Vice-President
Statutory provisions - state and federal
The Federal Elections Commission

III. Political parties and interest groups
Party organization and party rules

Professionals, activists, and amateurs
The two-party system: Republicans and Democrats
Minor parties and the challenges they face
Special interest groups and elections

IV. Nominations and elections
Candidates: who runs for office?
Caucuses and "smoke-filled rooms"
Primaries and runoff elections
Delegates, pledged delegates, and Democratic super delegates
Delegates and credentials
Party platforms: political rhetoric

V. Campaigns and campaign financing
Length of campaigns
Campaign advertising, campaign costs, and the media
Campaign finance regulations: limitations and loopholes
The Internet: persuasion and fund raising
Public opinion polling

VI. Voting behavior
Voter turnout
Rational voting and non-rational voting
Voter fraud
The role of age, gender, income, education, religion, and race
National defense and security, social issues, economic

VII. Proposals for electoral reform
First Amendment problems
Reforming the Electoral College
Length of campaigns
Public financing reforms
Campaign finance reforms

VIII. Summary and Conclusions          



** Louisiana Presidential Electors (2008) [PDF]

** Mississippi Official Sample Ballot (2008) [PDF]

** National Popular Vote

** FairVote.org

** "The Giant Pool of Money, " Ira Glass, "This American Life" (NPR) - [Transcript - PDF]

** State Control of Electors (from FairVote.org)

** Foster v. Love (1997) [U.S. Supreme Court case invalidating Louisian'a "Open Primary" for federal elections.]

**Jill Lepore, "Rock, Paper, Scissors: How We Used to Vote," [The New Yorker, October 13, 2008]

Lord James Bryce, "Why Great Men are Not Chosen Presidents," The American Commonwealth, vol. I, ch. 8.

Campaign Finance Institute

OpenSecrets.org - from Center for Responsive Politics


Federal Election Commission 

The American Presidency Project - at the University of California, Santa Barbara

Presidential Elections Data - from The American Presidency Project

Political Party Platforms - from The American Presidency Project

Popular and Electoral Vote Mandates - from The American Presidency Project

Voter Turnout in Presidential Elections - from The American Presidency Project

General Election Campaign Financing - from The American Presidency Project

Percentage of Convention Delegates   - Democrats - Republicans - from The American Presidency Project

Representation of the President's Party in House Elections (1824-1996)