GOVT311: Public Opinion and Electoral Behavior
Available on this page
On-Line Class Readings
Readings with "optional" are recommended, all other readings are required.
Other Useful Links
Paper Assignment #1
To encourage pratical applictions of what you have learned in class, you are required to perform an election-related civic activity. This could be volunteering for a campaign, being a poll worker, or attending a political event (a list on-campus events and . You must confirm with the instructor that your activity of choice will count. Your paper assignment is to write a short 2-3 page paper describing your activity and how some element of the activity relates to what you have learned in class. To facilitate your engagement in a campaign event, class will not be held on the Tuesday, Nov. 6 (Election Day).
Paper Assignment #2
We will dissect the 2012 election using the exit poll. All of the media organizations pool their resources to run one exit poll -- although they often call the exit poll "their" poll when they report on it. All of the media websites report the same information, so you can use any of them. I recommend using the NY Times website, as they have easy-to-use comparisons of the 2012, 2008, and 2004 exit polls (for the state level polls only).
Analyzing the exit polls, address the following questions in an essay format:
1. Much has been discussed about the changing racial and ethnic composition of the United States. Compare the change in the racial and ethnic composition (i.e., the percent of the electorate that was White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian) of the electorate from 2008 to 2012 both nationally and within Virginia, Iowa, and Indiana. What were the support levels of these groups for the presidential candidates in 2008 and 2012? Was the racial and ethnic change alone responsible for who won these states in 2012?
2. Looking at the national numbers, describe the age composition of the electorate and who the different age groups voted for. Interpret the change in the 2008 to 2012 numbers in light of what we have learned about generational effects.
3. Finally, what confidence do you have in your analysis, given that the margin of error of the exit polls are +/- 4 percentage points nationally and from +/- 4 to 5 percentage points within each state?
Your paper should be 6 pages long, double spaced, 12 pt. Times Roman font, with normal margins. You may use any citation style you wish as long as it is consistent and allows the reader to confirm your sources.
Professor McDonald Contact Info
Office Hours for Fall 2012: T 1-3pm or by appointment.
|Dr. Michael McDonald
Department of Public and International Affairs
George Mason University
4400 University Drive 3F4
Fairfax, VA 22030-4444