17.261 | Fall 2005 | Undergraduate, Graduate

Congress and the American Political System II


Research Assignment

The second half of the semester is structured as a research seminar. The goal is to write a paper that, with revisions, could be submitted to a journal for publication. Therefore, the paper should be empirical and, practically speaking, should rely on data that can be readily amassed and marshaled in the span of a semester.

To structure discussing the plans for the paper, each student was required to identify a literature to which the research is responding. Each student chose approximately 100 pages of readings that were assigned to the class one week ahead of time. The seminar meeting was then divided in two segments. First, we discussed the readings that had been assigned by the student; second, we discussed and critiqued the research design proposed by the student.

The following are the research topics chosen by the participants in the seminar that met Fall 2005, along with the reading assignments.

Congress and Home Rule for the District of Columbia

Eulau, H., and Paul Karps. “The Puzzle of Representation.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 2, no. 1 (1977): 233-254.

Harris, C. Congress and the Governance of the Nation’s Capital. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1995, chapters 3 and 6.

The Republican Revolution and the Transformation of Committees in Congress

Groseclose, Tim, and Charles Stewart III. “The Value of Committee Seats in the House, 1947-91.” American Journal of Political Science 42.2 (1998): 453-474.

Heberlig, Eric S. “Congressional Parties, Fundraising, and Committee Ambition.” Political Research Quarterly 56.2 (2003): 151-61.

Deering, Christopher J., and Steven S. Smith. Committees in Congress. 3rd ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 1997, chapter 2.

Divided/Unified Government and Policy Outcomes

Mayhew, David. “Divided Party Control: Does It Make a Difference?” PS: Political Science and Politics 24 (1991): 637-640.

Fiorina, Morris. “An Era of Divided Government.” PS Quarterly 107 (1992): 387-410.

Sundquist, James. “Needed: A Political Theory for the New Era of Coalition Government in the United States.” PS Quarterly 103 (1988): 613-635.

Binder, Sarah. “The Dynamics of Legislative Gridlock.” APSR 93 (1999): 519-533.

Shepsle, Kenneth, and Barry Weingast. “The Institutional Foundations of Committee Power.” APSR 81 (1987): 85-104.

The Origins of Divided Government

Fiorina, Morris P. “An Era of Divided Government.” Political Science Quarterly 107, no. 3 (Autumn 1992): 387-410.

Born, Richard. “Split-Ticket Voters, Divided Government, and Fiorina’s Policy-Balancing Model.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 19, no. 1 (Februrary 1994): 95-115.

Garand, James C., and Marci Glascock Lichtl. “Explaining Divided Government in the United States: Testing an Intentional Model of Split-Ticket Voting.” British Journal of Political Science 30, no. 1 (January 2000): 173-191.

Campaign Giving by Leadership PACs

Herrnson, Paul S. “The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and Congressional Elections.” In Congress Reconsidered. Edited by Lawrence C. Dodd and Bruce I. Oppenheimer. 8th ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2005, pp. 107-135.

Kanthak, Kristin. “Party preservation or self-promotion? Leadership PAC contributions in the U.S. House of Representatives.” Presented at 2002 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association.

Eismeier, Theodore J., and Philip H. Pollock III. “Strategy and Choice in Congressional Elections: The Role of Political Action Committees.” American Journal of Political Science 30, no. 1 (February 1986): 197-213.

The Effect of BCRA on Political Party Campaign Contributions

Malbin, Michael J., ed. The Election after Reform: Money, Politics, and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. Rowman & Littlefield, forthcoming. (Selected chapters.)

Stratmann, Thomas. “Some talk: Money in Politics. A (partial) review of the literature.” Public Choice 124 (2005): 135-156.

Nokken, Timothy P. “Ideological Congruence versus Electoral Success: Distribution of Party Organization Contributions in Senate Elections, 1990-2000.” American Politics Research 31, no. 1 (2003): 3-26.

Partisan Realignment and Recent Changes in Congress

Tuchfarber, Alfred J., Stephen E. Bennett, Andrew E. Smith, and Eric W. Rademacher. “The Republican Tidal Wave of 1994: Testing Hypotheses about Realignment, Restructuring, and Rebellion.” PS: Political Science and Politics 28, no. 4 (December 1995): 689-696.

Nardulli, Peter F. “The Concept of a Critical Realignment, Electoral Behavior, and Political Change.” The American Political Science Review 89, no. 1 (March 1995): 10-22.

Clubb, Jerome M., William H. Flanigan, and Nancy H. Zingale. Partisan Realignment: Voters, Parties, and Government in American History. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990, chapter 1.

Brady, David W. Critical Elections and Congressional Policy Making. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, c1988, chapters 5 and 6.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2005
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments