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Organization, Regulations, and Courses 2017-18

GOVT 83.17 The American Voter through Time

The American Voter Through Time will investigate the characteristic American voter beginning when public opinion data were collected (the middle of the 20th century) to today.  Such data were made available because the behavioral revolution in the social sciences encouraged the quantitative measurement of public opinion.  This movement provided academic researchers a wealth of data with which to study the American voter.  The earliest scholars analyzed these data and found evidence of an American public largely devoid of sophisticated political thinking.  From this groundbreaking study, other scholars argued that the unsophisticated electorate of the 1950's gave way to a more sophisticated audience in more politically charged times (1990s and 1970s).  Another group of scholars took issue with the early thesis of unsophisticated voters on methodological grounds.  They argued that the data were not properly analyzed.  Using more advanced technology, scholars continued to try to understand the American electorate.  Today, most arguments focus on the degree to which the American public has polarized along political and ideological lines.  This course will survey all this research.  It will investigate both the substantive and methodological arguments that have been debated as scholars seek to understand the attitudes and behaviors of the characteristic American voter as well as how it has changed over time.  Students who have a deep interest in history will be encouraged to research the characteristics of the American voter before data were available using historical records for their class project. 



The Timetable of Class Meetings contains the most up-to-date information about a course. It includes not only the meeting time and instructor, but also its official distributive and/or world culture designation. This information supersedes any information you may see elsewhere, to include what may appear in this ORC/Catalog or on a department/program website. Note that course attributes may change term to term therefore those in effect are those (only) during the term in which you enroll in the course.


Not offered in AY 2017-2018. May be offered in AY 2018-2019.