Previous versions of the course included the following group projects.
The purpose of the group projects is to allow you to explore on your own a large topic in the politics of Congress. I will give you some guidance about the specific topics I'd like you to address, but it will be up to you, as groups and individually, to refine the topics and the questions you address.
The groups will be responsible for delivering two final products. The first will be an oral presentation from each group, lasting 30 minutes each, of the group's findings. The second will be a comprehensive and coherent report, consisting of "chapters" that address particular topics, introduced by a brief introduction that is the responsibility of the whole group. Your final grade will be based on the entire package, blending together your own individual effort and that of the group. To be specific, three-quarters of the grade will be based on your written chapter (a paper of 8–10 pages) and your oral presentation; one-quarter will be based on the summary essay and the overall quality of the presentation. Finally, I will poll members of both groups, asking you to indicate how the group effort was shared.
The election of 1994 ushered in the first period of extended Republican control of the House since the 1920s. This change in party control of the chamber came at a time when some, such as David Rohde (Parties and Leaders in the Postreform House), document a rise in the power of political parties within Congress. Indeed, Rohde's book, which is assigned for this class, was written at the end of the long-running Democratic hegemony in the House. The time is now ripe to consider issues of "conditional party government" in a Republican era.
Your assignment is to write a study of party government in Congress during the 1990s, focusing particularly (but not exclusively) on internal congressional politics since the election of 1994. This study should address the following questions:
The year 2000 stands as a potential watershed year in the electoral history of Congress. The two parties are narrowly matched in both chambers, raising the intensity of the competition for control of the House and Senate. This being a presidential election year, the resulting mix of control of the presidency and Congress will set the tone for policymaking for the next two-to-four years. And, this being a census year, outcomes in state legislative elections will presumably affect redistricting and congressional election results in the next decade.
Your assignment is to write a study of the congressional election of 2000. This study should address the following questions: