17.20 | Spring 2004 | Undergraduate

Introduction to the American Political Process


Paper Assignments

Assignment 1 (PDF)
Assignment 2 (PDF)
Assignment 3 (PDF)

Class Assignment Questions

Part 1: Introduction and Preliminaries
1 What is the Role of Government?  
Part 2: Institutions and American Politics
2 Understanding Institutions: The Median Voter Theorem Identify your Member of Congress and describe the characteristics of your congressional district.
3 Agenda Setting: The Committee Model What committees does your Member of Congress belong to?
4 Making Legislation: Veto Players Identify a piece of legislation under consideration by a committee your Member of Congress serves upon. Where is the bill in the legislative process? What is the likelihood it will pass (make use of ADA scores and/or NOMINATE score as discussed in class).
5 Making Legislation: Ideas and Policy Entrepreneurs Where did the legislation you described last week come from? Who proposed the bill? What interest groups and other political actors were involved in its creation?
6 The Preferences of Policymakers: Elections and Responsiveness  
Part 3: Public Opinion, Elections, and Democracy
7 Campaigns and Elections  
8 The Measure and Meaning of Public Opinion Choose a topic of interest to you from the list of policy areas circulated in class. Find 10 polling items that measure opinion in your area of interest.
9 The Structure of Public Opinion Write a series of questions designed to measure opinion in your area of interest.
10 Understanding Public Opinion and American Politics: War and Race  
Part 4: Personal Interests and Political Equality
11 Mobilization of Interests Return to the legislation you discussed in your first paper. Describe which political interests are involved in the consideration of the bill.
12 Participation and the Political System Describe the patterns of political mobilization surrounding your chosen piece of legislation. Who is involved in the political process? Who is not? What are the consequences of who is involved for the shape of public policy?
Part 5: American Politics: Bringing it all Together
13 The Welfare Implications of Government  
14 Conclusions  

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2004
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Written Assignments