Assignments & Exams

Final Paper

The recent congressional election was important and interesting, from a number of perspectives. You will be responsible for taking a broad topic that is pertinent to the study of Congress and writing a 10–12 page paper about it in the context of the 2016 congressional election. Topics you might write about include new patterns of campaign finance; membership turnover; congressional districting; the performance of statistical models predicting the 2016 outcome; and the Senate or House election from your home state or district.

Choosing the Topic

Take a topic covered in class and write a paper that applies the outcome of the 2016 election to that topic. The most obvious set of papers concern elections themselves—patterns concerning candidates, voters, campaign finance, and districting. Less obvious, but still fun and instructive, are topics that focus on how the internal dynamics of the chamber were affected by the results. This would include things like how turnover and term limits will affect committee and party leadership; the strength and cohesion of the parties, etc.

You should have a topic chosen by the week following the midterm (week 17).


This should be a term paper. The expectation is that you will use a combination of sources that range from congressional documents to CQ Weekly to books and journal articles. Each paper will be different in the details. There is an essay at the back of Analyzing Congress about doing congressional research—it is recommended you consult that essay.

Due: Class 28

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