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NAMIII/VI Voting Behavior and Elections in America 5 ECTS
Period I Period II Period III Period IV
Language of instruction
Type or level of studies
Intermediate studies
North American Studies
School of Social Sciences and Humanities

General description

Voting is the cornerstone of American political life. As such, the act of voting has attracted

considerable attention from scholars and policymakers. This course addresses the field of voting

behavior in the United States in roughly four parts. First, we'll discuss general questions in the field and

introduce the major sociological, psychological, and rational choice interpretations of voting. Second,

we'll look at common heuristics used to simplify the vote decision and ways in which campaigns

mobilize voters. In the latter part of the semester we will turn our attention toward voting in

congressional and presidential contexts. The last portion of the course addresses special electoral

conditions: local elections, direct democracy, and the effects of certain electoral reforms.

Course Schedule:

September 2: Introduction

September 9: Representation and Turnout in the United States

September 16: The United States in Comparative Perspective

September 23: Two Voting Models

September 30: Party Affiliation ASSIGNMENT #1 DUE

October 7: No class this week

October 14: Issue Voting and Public Opinion

October 21: Candidate Evaluation

October 28: Political Advertising

November 4: Congressional Elections and Decision Making ASSIGNMENT #2 DUE

November 18: Voter Mobilization and the 2016 Elections

November 25: Predictive Models

December 2: Presidential Elections

December 9: Other Electoral Contexts: Direct Democracy and Local Elections

December 15: Final papers are due

Enrolment for University Studies

Enrolment time has expired


Peter Miller, Teacher responsible


2-Sep-2016 – 9-Dec-2016
Fri 2-Sep-2016 at 10-12, PinniA Paavo Koli
Fri 9-Sep-2016 - 16-Sep-2016 weekly at 10-12, Pinni B4115
Fri 23-Sep-2016 at 10-12, Pinni B4116
Fri 30-Sep-2016 - 21-Oct-2016 weekly at 10-12, Pinni B4115, No lecture 7.10.
Fri 28-Oct-2016 at 10-12, Pinni B4116
Fri 4-Nov-2016 at 10-12, Päätalo A2B
Fri 18-Nov-2016 at 10-12, Pinni B4115
Fri 25-Nov-2016 at 10-12, Pinni B4116
Fri 2-Dec-2016 at 10-12, Pinni B4117
Fri 9-Dec-2016 at 10-12, Pinni B4115

Evaluation criteria

Class Requirements:

Class Participation 20% of final grade

• Writing Assignments 40% of final grade

• Final Paper 40% of final grade

Final grades will be determined on the basis of participation in class discussions, two written assignments due September 30 and November 4, and a final paper. Students are expected to come to each class having read the material for the day and prepared to talk about the objectives of each reading selection, the data used, and the conclusions drawn from those data. The two writing assignments are designed to measure students' comprehension of the reading material. A set of thematic questions will be circulated in class the week prior to the due date for these assignments (i.e. September 23 and October 28) that cover major concepts in the course. Students will be expected to turn in answers to this question set one week after the questions are circulated. The final paper is an opportunity for each student to further explore an issue raised in the reading materials from this course. The paper should be 5,000 words in length, and can take the form of

a literature review of a concept from the course with additional outside research or an analysis of data, either replicating a study from the course or exploring a separate topic. Students are encouraged to begin thinking about the final paper early in the semester and are always welcome to meet with me to discuss possible topics for the paper. As always, the final paper is expected to be solely the student's creative output; plagiarism will not be tolerated. Late papers will be reduced one letter grade (i.e. from B+ to C+) for each 24-hour period after the deadline. Please let me know if you require some accommodation due to a disability with either the midterm exam or final paper. In the event of an unanticipated emergency, an alternative assessment canbe used in place of either the midterm exam or final paper, with the condition t

Study materials

 Major Texts:
All of the readings for the course are available on the Moodle website related to this course.
However, we read substantial portions of the following books, which students may wish to purchase.
• Campbell, Angus, Philip Converse, Warren Miller, and Donald Stokes. 1960. The American
Voter New York: Wiley and Sons.
• Lewis-Beck, Michael, Helmut Norpoth, William Jacoby, and Herbert Weisberg. 2008. The
American Voter Revisited Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. The library holds an
electronic copy of this text.
• Popkin, Samuel. 1994. The Reasoning Voter: Communication and Persuasion in
Presidential Campaigns Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
• Vavreck, Lynn. 2009. The Message Matters: the Economy and Presidential Campaigns
Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Further information

The course can also be taken within the Degree Programme in Politics, when it will compensate one of the following Political Science study

units: POLVOA31 Political Institutions and Processes (https://www10.uta.fi/opas/opintojakso.htm?rid=9457&idx=0&uiLang=en&lang=en&lvv=2015),

or POLVOA41 Parties, Elections and Political Participation (https://www10.uta.fi/opas/opintojakso.htm?rid=9452&idx=0&uiLang=en&lang=en&lvv=2015).