Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Chapter 11 Part III

Questions (no terms for this section):

Describe how the president works with Congress in the legislative process.

To what extent do Congressmen directly mirror the opinion of their constituents, and to what extent do they make independent decisions? (trustees versus instructed delegates)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Chapter 11 Part II


House Rules Committee
Speaker of the House
Majority Leader
Party Whips
Minority Leader
Standing Committees
Joint Committees
Conference Committees
Select Committees
Legislative Oversight
Committee Chairs


How does the House and the Senate have unique roles in bringing bills to the discussion and deciding whether to vote on it (i.e. House Rules Committee and Filibustering)?

Explain the difference between the Speaker of the House, the Majority Leader, and the Majority Party Whip.

Explain how committees and subcommittees influence legislation, and provide congressional oversight.  How might the decentralized nature of the Senate make committees complicated and cause fragmentation?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Chapter 11, Part I


Why have there been fewer minorities (including women) in Congress? Can descriptive representation be as effectively as substantive representation?

What advantages do incumbents in Congress have in winning re-elections? Why might incumbency impact senators differently than House representatives?

In what circumstances is it more likely for an incumbent to be defeated?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Chapter 9 Part IV

Questions - Provide Brief Bulleted Responses

What do voters consider the most when making their decisions--party affiliation, candidate evaluation, or policy?  Why?

There are two contrasting ideas about who has the power before and after the election process.  According to the mandate theory of elections, elected candidates feel that their victory entitles them to enact the policies they want.  Conversely, voters feel that since elections are frequent, the government needs to be more responsive to their needs.  Which idea is more accurate, and why?

What are the pros and cons to the electoral college?  How does geography play into this question?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Chapter 9 Part III


selective exposure
political efficacy
civic duty
voter registration laws
voter ID laws


What are some of the arguments for against voting?

To what extent have voter registration and voter ID laws affected voter turnout?

Consider the arguments for and against voter ID laws.  Which side do you agree with?

What social factors make people most likely to vote?  Are there any ways that we can increase participation among certain categories that are lacking?

Chapter 9 Part II


role of internet on campaigning
importance of commercials
impact of the news
important tasks of organizing the campaign (pick 3)
campaign contributions vs. independent expenditures
Federal Election Campaign Act
soft money
McCain-Feingold Act (2002)
527 Groups
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010)
501 (c) Groups
Super PACs


What is more useful towards learning about a candidate: the internet or commercials?  How might this connect to our discussion of the mass media?

Describe the intricate process of campaign organization.  How might this connect to financing a campaign?

What are some of the restrictions on campaign financing, and how have people gotten around them?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Chapter 9 Part I


campaign strategy
national party convention
McGovern-Fraser Commission
invisible primary
presidential primaries
party platform


How were national party conventions criticized as not being fully democratic? How is the McGovern-Fraser Commission significant here, and how was the nomination process modified?

Do superdelegates really have more power over regular delegates?  Why or why not?

How do presidential candidates work towards nomination within the political arena before the primaries and caucuses?

Which is more important towards selecting a nominee? The caucuses and primaries or the party convention?  Why is this?  What are some of the criticisms of primaries and caucuses?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Chapter 8 Part III


  • Party Eras
  • Critical Election
  • Party Realignment
  • New Deal Coalition
  • Party Dealignment
  • Third Party
  • Winner-take-all System
  • Proportional Representation
  • Coalition Government
  • Responsible Party Model


What prompts a critical election or party realignment?
-Consider the Civil War and the Depression as examples.

What is party dealignment?  Why has this been occurring recently?

Why does the US not have third parties, when most European countries do?

To what extent do American parties meet the criteria for the Responsible Party Model?

Chapter 8 Part II


  • Party Machines
  • Patronage
  • Closed Primaries
  • Open Primaries
  • Blanket Primary (not in book -- look up)
  • National Convention
  • National Committee
  • National Chairperson
  • Coalition


As urban party machines died out, what replaced them?

How do states have significant control over party activities and elections?

To what extent is the suspicion that politicians break their promises actually true?

Chapter 8 Part I

Terms to Outline

  • Party Competition
  • Political Party
  • Linkage Institution
  • Rational Choice Theory
  • Party Image
  • Party Identification
  • Ticket Splitting


Why do political scientists see party competition as a positive contributor toward democracy?

How does rational-choice theory affect how political parties represent themselves to the voter?

How has party identification changed since the 1950s?

Chapter 10 Part III

Terms to Define:

  • Types of Interest Groups:
    • Economic Interests: Labor, Business
      • union shops, right-to-work laws, Taft Hartley Act
    • Environmental Interests
    • Equality Interests
    • Consumer and Public Interest Lobbies
      • Ralph Nader: Unsafe at Any Speed
      • Consumer Product Safety Commission


Why have labor interest groups declined while business interest groups have proliferated in recent decades?

What are the shifting political goals of Equality interest groups in recent years?  For example. what have minority rights groups advocated since the Brown v. Board decision, and what have women's rights groups supported since the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)?

What types of issues and people do Consumer and Public Interest groups represent?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chapter 10 Part II

Terms to Define

  • potential group
  • actual group
  • free-rider problem
  • selective benefits
  • single-issue group
  • lobbying
  • electioneering
  • political action committees (PACs)
  • amicus briefs


Why do certain types of interest groups have an easier time recruiting potential group members to become actual group members?

Why does the free rider problem exist, and what have certain groups done to overcome it?

What, in your opinion, is the greatest contributor to the influence of an interest group--size, intensity, or money?  Why?

Do PACs hinder or help the political process?  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chapter 10 Part I

Terms to Define:

  • beverage tax (from intro section) -- how it impacts interest groups
  • difference between an interest group and a political party
  • theories of interest group politics (review with some new terms)
    • pluralism
    • elitism
    • hyperpluralism
      • interest group liberalism
      • iron triangles
Broad question for Consideration:

What, in your opinion, is the most plausible theory of interest group politics?  What particular types of interest groups come to mind that make you come to this conclusion?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Chapter 7 Part III

How broad is the effect of the media on public opinion?  Is there merit to the "minimal effect hypothesis" or can the media employ strategies to effectively influence what Americans think about?

How does the media's agenda setting shape the public's perception of issues?  In other words, why might the focus of the economic crisis of 2008 have impacted the views of George H.W. Bush and John McCain during that election season?

How do policy entrepreneurs invest "political capital" on an issue?  What are their "weapons" and which ones have the most profound impact?

How does the media act as a "watchdog" over the government?  Does this limit or expand politicians' abilities to effectively enact policy?

Why is television seen as a tool to further individualism in American politics?  How does this shape the ways in which certain politicians receive attention in the media?

Chapter 7 Part II

What is defined as newsworthy?  Why is it that odd stories generate more attention, and how might that affect the extent to which the average American is informed about politics?

How do journalists locate news sources, and how do they test the waters for how a story will be received (i.e. discuss beats and trial balloons).

How do sound bites affect our ability to truly understand a news piece?  What does this suggest about how the mass media may not be changing for the better?

What is a larger problem—news reports that are biased, or those that tend to report only sensational stories?  Why?  Why are talking heads increasingly falling out of favor?

Chapter 7 Part I

Terms and Related Questions (define terms in bold and answer questions)

  • High-tech politics
    • Consider an example of how technology shapes both political behavior and the political agenda.  Is this a positive development?  Consider how few people tune into Obama's speech compared to how many watched Reagan's in the 1980s.  Why might this be?
  • Mass media
    • How does the mass media effectively communicate a message to as many people as possible?  What does this have to do with media events?
  • Press conferences
    • Discuss the relationship between the press and the president earlier in the 20th century (during FDR's administration) and how it evolved (or should we say devolved) closer to Vietnam and Watergate.  How did this contribute to investigative journalism?
  • Which forms of media are consumed more, and which, in your opinion, are more effective: print media, or electronic media?  Why?
  • How has broadcasting evolved into narrowcasting?  How does this affect the way in which people are informed by the mass media?
  • Has the growing diversification of the mass media contributed to selective exposure?  Why or why not?
  • Does the internet enhance or detract from citizens' political knowledge?
  • How does the fact that the media is privately controlled (consider the role of chains specifically here) impact our quality of news and our knowledge?

Chapter 6, Part IV

Identifications and Related Questions (please make sure to answer questions in your homework)

  • Political Participation
    • What are examples of political participation, both conventional and unconventional?  Which, in your opinion, is more effective and why?
  • Protest
    • To what extent is this an effective form of political participation? How (and with what effect) does protest institute policy change?
  • Civil Disobedience
    • Why has this form of protest waned in recent years?
  • How does race and ethnicity impact political participation?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Chapter 6 Part III

Terms to Outline:

  • political ideology (including some of the key differences between liberals and conservatives)
  • gender gap
  • ideologues
  • group benefits voters
  • nature of the time voters
  • no issue content groups

Chapter 6, Part II

Terms/ideas to Outline:

  • political socialization (including a few examples)
  • random sampling (including an explanation of its purpose)
  • sampling error (including what influences it, and whether it has increased recently)
  • random digit dialing (including why this method is becoming less effective)
  • criticisms of polls (including bandwagon effect and exit polls) -- how can these be inaccurate?
  • reasons for the decline of trust in the government

Chapter 6, Part I

Terms to Define:

  • public opinion (including a reference as to why it is complex)
  • census (including a discussion of its purpose, how it is conducted, and problems within the process)
  • the three waves of immigration
  • Johnson-Reid Immigration Act
  • Hart-Celler Immigration Act
  • minority majority
  • Simpson-Mazzoli Act
  • Reapportionment (including relationship to the census, and how this shift impacts distinct regions)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Chapter 3, Part III

Questions to Consider:

  • Has federalism contributed positively to democracy?
    • Consider: allocation of funds, unique policies based on region, opportunities for political participation, access to government, party leadership, etc.
  • What are the disadvantages to federalism?
  • Why might the federal government have become increasingly involved in , especially in terms of economic policy?  Does this override federalism?

Chapter 3 Part II

Terms to Outline:

  • Dual federalism
  • Cooperative Federalism
  • Fiscal Federalism
  • Categorical Grants
  • Project Grants
  • Formula Grants
  • Block Grants
  • Crossover sanctions
  • Mandates -- underfunded and unfunded

Chapter 3, Part I

Terms to Outline:

  • Federalism
  • unitary governments
  • confederation
  • intergovernmental relations
  • enumerated powers
  • supremacy clause
  • 10th Amendment
  • 11th Amendment
  • McCulloch v. Maryland
  • "necessary and proper"
  • Gibbons v. Odgen
  • Brown v. Board
  • Full faith and credit
  • Extradition
  • Privileges and Immunities

Friday, September 5, 2014

Chapter 2, Part VII

Questions to Consider:

  • In what ways does the Constitution contrast the Declaration of Independence and place limits on individual liberties and a truly democratic government?
  • To what extent is the Constitution a democratic document?
    • Does the Bill of Rights balance out the limits to personal liberties that are proposed in other parts of the Constitution?
  • Why would the Constitution say nothing about who can and cannot vote?
    • Doesn't that in itself show that the original Constitution was undemocratic?
  • How has the government become more democratic over time?
    • What rights do we have now that we did not have when the Constitution was ratified?
    • Does this imply that the Constitution both limits the tyranny of the majority as well as its own tyranny?
  • Does the system of checks and balances make it difficult for government to act?
    • Does it, indeed, reduce the scope of government in allowing one section of government from being too powerful?

Chapter 2, Part VI

Terms to Outline:
  • amendment
  • Equal Rights amendment
  • Marbury v. Madison
  • judicial review 

Chapter 2, Part V

Terms to Outline:
  • Federalists
  • Anti-Federalists
  • Federalist Papers
  • Bill of Rights

Chapter 2, Part IV

Terms to Outline:
  • The Madisonian system
  •  Separation of Powers
  • checks and balances
  • republic

Chapter 2, Part III

Terms to Outline:
  • Virginia Plan
  • New Jersey Plan
  • Connecticut Compromise
  • Three-fifths compromise
  • writ of habeas corpus

Chapter 2, Part II

Terms to Outline:

  • Articles of Confederation
  • Shays' Rebellion
  • Annapolis Convention

Chapter 2, Part I

Terms to Outline:
  • Seven Years War
  • First Continental Congress
  • Declaration of Independence
  • natural rights
  • consent of the goverened
  • limited government

Chapter 1, Part IV

Terms to Outline:

  • Gross domestic product

Chapter 1, Part III

Terms to Outline:

  • Democracy
  • Ideal democratic process:
    • Equality in voting
    • effective participation
    • enlightened understanding
    • citizen control of the agenda
    • inclusion
  • majority rule
  • minority rights
  • representation
  • Pluralism
  • elitism
  • hyperpluralism
  • policy gridlock
  • laissez faire
  • culture war

Chapter 1, Part II

Terms to outline:

  • policymaking system
  • linkage institutions
  • policy agenda
  • political issue
  • policymaking institutions
  • public policy
  • policy impacts

Chapter 1, Part I

Terms to outline:

  • Government
  • Collective Goods
  • Politics
  • Political Participation
  • Single-issue groups