Second Midterm Study Guide

GO 201

Fall 2011

 

The Second Midterm will have 5 short questions (4 minutes each, 8%) drawn from the short question section below (some choice) and 1 of three essay questions (15 minutes, 25% no choice), and 1 longer essay question (25 minutes, 35% each).  You may bring in a 1 sided, 1 page study sheet.

 

The short questions are drawn from the Study Guide’s list of questions and terms.

 

Here are 4 sample answers to the short question, "What is the political significance of individual/episodic versus systematic/thematic framing of news?" All are about the same length, however, they vary from an F to an A+ in how many points they are worth. Note the 5 point answer is the shortest.

 

The 2 point answer

EF is when the media tells a story about poverty as the life of an individual poor person, how they have a tough time paying for food, housing, etc and how tough it is on the children. A TF frame is when the media shows poverty in America using charts about the declining wages, unavailability of health care, the lack of affordable housing.

 

The 3 point answer

EF is when the media tells a story about poverty as the life of a individual poor person, how they have a tough time paying for food, housing, etc and how tough it is on the children. A TF frame is when the media shows poverty in America using charts about the declining wages, unavailability of health care, the lack of affordable housing. Most news stories are EFs.

 

The 4 point answer

EF is when the media tells a story about poverty as the life of a individual poor person, how they have a tough time paying for food, housing, etc and how tough it is on the children. A TF frame is when the media shows poverty in America using charts about the declining wages, unavailability of health care, the lack of affordable housing. Most news stories are EFs because they are more likely to attract viewers.

 

--the 5 point answer

The media can tell a story about poverty in an EF frame (a poor indiv) or a TF frame (national trends with charts and graphs). The media is more likely to do EF b/c they attract viewers, but citizens who see the EF about poor person will think individual should work harder and that govt. is not responsible for solving poverty.

 

Section I. Short Question Section

 

Public Opinion and Polls

 

Do public opinion polls improve the “efficiency of democracy

What are the most important characteristics of a good opinion poll?

What does the public believe the government should do about the crisis on Wall Street and the financial sector?

What are the arguments for the elite perspective on public opinion?

What are the arguments for the popular perspective on public opinion?

 

Why did the American public believe that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9-11 attacks? How do the authors prove their argument?  What data do they use?  What would proponents of the elite and popular perspectives say about George Bush and public opinion on Iraq and Terrorism?

 Terms VO Key's definition of democracy, Holocaust poll question, question wording, priming effects, random selection, issue salience

 

Media

Why are the media powerful?

Has the media become more or less biased over time?

What is the evidence for and against each of the following sources of bias in the media? ideological bias of reporters/editors; Profit bias of corporate owners; Personal or selection bias of reporters (media poor vs. real poor)

What is the primary source of news for Americans?

What makes a good news story?  What are the implications of the selection principle important for politics?  Why is the framing of a news story important for politics or policy?

How has the business model of the media shifted and what are the consequences of the shift for politics?

How has the increase in corporate ownership of the media influenced how it reports the news?

Will the internet revitalize democracy and increase the voice of citizens in political affairs?  Why or why not?  What are the potential advantages and disadvantages of this medium over traditional media sources like television?

Can the Internet improve our democratic system and remove the problems of media bias?  How?  In what ways could it threaten or undermine our democratic system?

What does the article, “Acorn was Framed,” reveal about the media’s ability to serve as a watchdog? How do the authors prove their argument?  What data do they use? 

 

Terms

liberal media bias theory, individual versus systematic framing of news, drama, color, and brevity, Daily Me, unanticipated encounters, common experiences, group polarization, consumer sovereignty, Why large media firms dominate the Internet, ultra conservative vs. the moderate, media poor versus real poor, impact of media competition for viewers, spectacle stories, soft news

 

Voting and Turnout

Why did 60.3% of Americans vote in the 2008 presidential election?

How can the cost-benefit model be used to explain who participate in politics and who doesn’t?

Who is more and less likely to vote in America by age, income, education, race, and economic status?

What is the demographic or socio-economic explanation of voting?  What are some limitations of this analysis?  (1991 Louisiana gubernatorial election, Europe, midterm elections)

Why has American turnout declined?

How did voter turnout in the 2008 presidential elections compare to turnout in other eras of American politics and to other countries?

What is the voter registration process and how does it affect voter turnout?  What are the limits of the registration argument?

Would reform measures like same day voter registration, making election day a national holiday, mail in or E-Voting, increase voting rates significantly? Why or why not?

What role does voter mobilization play in voting? Why are so few Americans mobilized by parties or candidates to vote?

Why do Americans say they don't vote?

Should we be concerned that only 60.3% of Americans voted in 2008?

If you were named the new Voting Czar, what reforms would you advocate for increasing voter turnout?

Why have some states enacted new laws making it harder to register or vote, such as requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification, cut back on early voting, disenfranchised voters with past criminal convictions, and ended same day voter registration in some states? 

Can any voting reform ever be politically neutral? Why or why not? What are the implications for various reform measures?

 

Terms

Voting rights Act of 1961, motor voter law, voter registration drives, same day voter registration in Ohio, eligible voting age population, individual motivations for voting, mobilization, psychic benefits of voting, social connectedness, 1991 Louisiana gubernatorial election, change the rules- change the outcome, vote ID laws, felon disenfranchisement, The Brennan Report on Voting Law Changes in 2012 http://www.brennancenter.org/content/resource/voting_law_changes_in_2012

 

Interest Groups

How do interest groups differ from political parties?

What is the appropriate role of interest groups in a democracy?

What is Madisons view about interest groups/factions?

Why do pluralists favor a strong interest group system?

What is wrong with the pluralist description of American politics?  Are all groups and individuals equally represented?  How might the interest group system seem to over represent particular groups?

How does the collective action problem explain US Sugar policy?

Why is Big Sugar powerful? Who wins and loses from US Sugar policy?

How do interest groups attempt to achieve their political goals (inside and outside strategies)?  What makes an interest group powerful?

 

Terms

free rider problem, collective action problem, selective benefits, political entrepreneur, inside and outside strategies, grassroots lobbying, PACs, direct mail, iron triangles, subgovernment, issue networks, pluralism, , material or selective benefits, the goals of interest groups, interest group responses to the permanent campaign, America's Power

 

Political Parties – THERE WILL NOT BE ANYTHING ON POLITICAL PARTIES FOR THE FALL 2011 MIDTERM

How do political parties enhance democracy?

What are the fundamental characteristics of the American party system?

Why is America a two party system?

Why do third parties emerge?  Why do they die?   How, if ever, do they improve our political system?

How have American parties changed over time?

Who killed political parties and how?

Why have elections become candidate centered as opposed to party centered?  How have technological changes in how campaigns are conducted contributed to this phenomena?

How does our single member simple plurality electoral system explain why we have 2 political parties?

What are the ideological differences between the Democratic and Republican parties?

Why is the current Republican majority collapsing according to Judis and Texeira?

How do the theories about the emerging democratic majority explain Barack Obama's 2008 victory?

 

Culture War

Is there a culture war in America? In your answer, please analyze and explain:

a. Why do many believe there is a culture war in American;

b. Whether polling data indicates the existence of deep polarization;

c. Have electoral cleavages in the US shifted from moral to economic issues;

d. Why political elites are polarized;

e. Whether we can or should dispel the culture war in American politics;

 

Please use polling data and spatial models to support your arguments.

 

Purists, spatial models, what does deeply divided look like in a spatial model, red state vs blue state policy and ideology differences; abortion and homosexuality polling, where do voters place themselves ideologically; where do they place the Democratic and Republican parties ideologically, differences between activists and regular Americans, evidence of polarization and depolarization, sources of elite polarizaton, evidence on whether electoral cleavages have shifted, centralizing voters and polarizing elites, expansion of government, rise of participatory government, who is hijacking American Democracy according to Fiorina;  You should also be able to articulate Abramowitz’s arguments and evidence for the existence of a culture war.

 

Section II  Short Essay Questions

 

I will randomly select ONE of three essay questions below (15 minutes 25%).  Prepare your answers in advance making use of the readings and lecture notes to make a coherent argument that answers all components of the question, keeping in mind your time will be short.

 

Some advice for essay questions

1. You will be hard pressed to sufficiently answer all the questions during the allotted time period.  Your answers should be concise and avoid unnecessary words and fluff (e.g.  Congratulations on your victory Mr. Bush, it is a great day for America blah blah . . ).  You may also abbreviate  i.e.  Pres, H of R, EC for electoral college, S.C. for Supreme Court etc; just make sure it is relatively clear.  I will not be able to guess that SG stands for solicitor general.

2. Make a coherent argument in response to each question.  Make sure you answer each sub-question and relate it back to the larger argument.

3. Use the readings and authors names in your answer.  (e.g. Sunstein argues the internet is.)

4. Use specific examples to support your arguments.  The ID terms are a good place to start.  Interest groups use outsider strategies to influence congress is not as good an answer as Interest groups use outsider strategies to influence congress like GEs Hudson River campaign.

5. Make sure to define the concepts you use in your answers.   Pluralists argue . . . .

 

You essay answers will be evaluated based upon

1. the clarity of your argument

2. the use of the readings and lectures

3. the creative use of examples to support your points.  

 

 

1. You have just been named the new Voting Czar (Jan 2012) and have been asked to write a policy paper which describes:

a. Who votes and who doesn’t in America?

b. What specific legal and institutional reforms you would advocate for increasing voter turnout?

c. Who would oppose these reforms and why?

d. Would changing the laws increase voter turnout to new highs or is something else required?

 

2. Your roommate is ranting again about the liberal media bias. Since she has yet to take Gov 101, it is your responsibility to set her straight. Please tell her:

a. What are the sources of media bias?

b. How does this bias affect politics/public policy in America?

c. Can the Internet remove this bias? Does the Internet improve or worsen citizens’ awareness and understanding of political affairs? Why or why not?

 

3. Why does sugar cost so much, and what, if anything, can be done about it? In your answer, make sure you address:

a. how pluralist theory explains public policy;

b. Madison’s views on interest groups/factions;

c. the collective action problem;

e. how interest groups attempt to influence public policy in the New American Democracy.

 

Section III.  Long Essay Question (25 minutes, 35%)

 

It is Thanksgiving Dinner and your family is discussing the upcoming 2012 presidential election. Having zealously followed the election and results in the media, they are convinced that there is a culture war in American politics, with America hopelessly riven into Red and Blue America. Someone turns to you and says, "Hey you go to one of those "New Ivies", do you think there is a culture war in American politics? In your answer, please analyze and explain:

 

a. Why do many believe there is a culture war in American?

b. Is there evidence of deep polarization on issues between Red American and Blue America?

c. Have electoral cleavages in the US shifted from moral to economic issues?

d. Why are moral issues more important now in American politics than in the past?

e. Why political elites are polarized?

f. Whether we can or should dispel the culture war in American politics?

 

 Make sure to provide spatial models and polling data to support your arguments.