Aims and objectives: This course provides the core conceptual
tools, theoretical insights, and practical skills for analyzing
elections, voting behavior, and public opinion. It is designed for
careers in public opinion polling and survey research, campaign
management, broadcasting and journalism, and as the foundation for
policy analysis research.
The course is split vertically. Part I
on Mondays provides the theoretical framework for understanding public
opinion and voting behavior including the nature of mass beliefs,
political participation, political participation, value change,
elections and parties, social cleavages and partisan orientations,
political attitudes and support for the political system, the media and
campaign, and the nature of public opinion. It covers these issues by
comparing the United States with other major comparable postindustrial
societies (particularly France, Germany, Britain, and Italy), as well as
across a broader range of both established and newer democracies.
Part II on Wednesdays provides
analytical and statistical research skills, working hands-on from shared
datasets (for example, the American National Election Survey, the U.S.
General Social Survey, the Eurobarometer, the European Social Survey,
the Afro-barometer, the World Values Survey, the International Social
Survey Program, or equivalent). Students acquire the skills to use these
resources using the SPSS statistical package for individual projects.
The class covers issues of good research design, theory construction,
model building, and hypothesis-testing; survey data sources; the
appropriate statistical techniques for analyzing categorical and
continuous survey data; and the professional presentation of results.
Familiarity with the basic concepts of statistical inference is
recommended, although no prior familiarity with SPSS is assumed.