POL S 299 Special Topics: The 2008 Presidential Election
Winter 2008: Tuesday & Thursday, 10:00 - 11:20 am, PAA 102
Professor: Matt A. Barreto
This class is a special topics, American Politics class, focusing on the 2008 Presidential Primary Election cycle. We will focus closely on every primary election and caucus and assess how each candidate did, what they did right, what they did wrong, and how each campaign changes over the weeks. The first day of class, January 8th is the first primary election (New Hampshire) and by the time this class is over in mid-March, the Democratic and Republican Presidential candidates will be decided. Unlike other classes, we will be watching and learning about events in real time, as they unfold. Over the next 10 weeks the candidates will campaign vigorously in over 30 states to try and gather enough delegates to win their party’s nomination. For this reason, class and section attendance is very important.
There is only one text book for the class, and your main reading assignment will be to read the daily news stories about each presidential candidate. At a minimum, you will be expected to read roughly 5-10 news stories EVERY DAY from four national newspapers. If you do not keep up with the daily news readings, you will not do well in this class. On the other hand, if you read everything you can about the presidential candidates and the primary elections you will probably do very well.
Each week there will be required from course text books, from four major national newspapers, and from two online blogs. You are expected to read the newspaper and blog articles Mon – Sun. The complete, week-by-week reading list is also posted on the course website.
Throughout the quarter, there will be opportunities to attend various events, talks, and symposiums on campus that are related to the Presidential election or American politics in general which will count for small, but important, extra credit points. You must get approval from your TA or from the Professor before an extra credit opportunity. You will be required to write up a one-page summary of the event and turn it in within one week.
Weekly News Summary. Each week you will turn in a one-page single-spaced summary of the major campaign news items for that week. The summary will be due in section on Friday, and should cover news from the Saturday – Friday week.
Section Grade. Your section grade will consist of a combination of participation, discussion, quizzes, and working on the candidate project. Section attendance is very important on both Wednesday and Friday of each week.
Candidate Project. Starting on January 10th, you will be assigned to a campaign team with 5 or 6 students, for one of the presidential candidates. You will analyze and also advise your candidate on the road to the presidency in the areas of press, strategy, fund raising, advertising, polling, and policy.
Final Exam. The final exam will be administered during finals week and will cover the specifics of the 2008 presidential primary elections, as well as some general knowledge subjects on presidential caucuses, primaries, conventions, etc. The final will be a mix of multiple choice, short answer, and essay and is worth 30% of your final grade.
2008 Primary Election Calendar, Jan-Mar: January 3 Iowa January 5 Wyoming (GOP) January 8 New Hampshire January 15 Michigan January 19 Nevada / South Carolina (GOP) January 26 South Carolina (DEM) January 29 Florida February 1 Maine (GOP) February 5 California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, Tennessee, Colorado, Arizona, Connecticut, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Utah, Delaware, Idaho, North Dakota, Montana, Alaska, Massachusetts, West Virginia February 9 Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington caucus, Kansas (GOP) February 10 Maine caucus (DEM) February 12 D.C., Maryland, Virginia February 19 Washington, Wisconsin, Hawaii March 4 Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont March 8 Wyoming (DEM) March 11 Mississippi