| The United States Congress
Y319 | 3297 | Sellers
Recent elections have changed the United States Congress in dramatic
ways. The 1994 midterm elections brought the Republican Party to power for
the first time in decades. In the 1996 elections the Democratic Party
narrowed the Republicans' congressional majorities, and President Bill
Clinton won reelection. This course will examine the nature of these
changes and how they have affected the House and Senate. We will examine a
number of related questions: how do legislators balance serving constituent
interests and producing national legislation? What are the competing center
of power and influence in Congress, and what determines which area of
influence is more dominant? How extensive are incumbent advantages in
congressional elections, and why do challengers sometimes overcome them and
sometimes fail to do so?
As students examine these questions, they will develop important
skills in writing (a series of one-page papers), research (for the papers),
and computers (analyzing national surveys to figure out patterns in opinions
and attitudes). These skills can helps students win an internship or
full-time job in politics, but the skills are useful in other jobs as well.
In a legal setting lawyers must perform research for their clients,
summa5rizing their findings in clear and concise memos. And in the business
world, it is important to understand the attitudes and preferences of ones
customers, and analyzing surveys are a central part of market research.
Course requirements include a midterm exam, a final exam, and
several one-page papers. Each student will be assigned a particular member
of Congress and will write one-page papers about that member. The readings
for the course average 70 pages per week.