How well does democracy work in Saratoga Springs? How do we know? The foundation of democracy in the United States is its institutions of local government. The men and women chosen by their fellow citizens to govern them determine not only what their governments do, but also the quality of the democratic process. Real Democracy is an ongoing class that uses the Saratoga Springs City Council elections as a real life laboratory for studying the practice of democracy in 21st century America. A copy of the fall syllabus is online here GO 367 Real Democracy Syllabus Email me for copies of the data or questions about the presentations.

Fall 2015


2015 City Council Election Presentations

Exit Poll Questions

Introduction All the Incumbents Win: An Analysis of the 2015 City Council Election

A Changing Saratoga Springs Electorate?

The Priorities of Saratoga Springs Voters

Who Splits their Ticket?

Campaign Effects

Public Participation in Saratoga Springs by the Number and the Location


Media Coverage of Class

Pace of development heavy on voters’ minds, Daily Gazette, Stephen Williams December 5, 2015

Skidmore Class Conducts Research on Local Politics, Saratogian, 12/1/15

Light Turnout in Spa City Despite Divisive Issues, Saratogian, 11/3/15

A really personal election for "Real Democracy" students; Nov 6, 2015

CSPAN comes to Skidmore, October 28, 2015

Students Learn From Golf Resort Debate, Saratoga Today, October 9, 2015


2015 City Council Candidate Interviews

My 2015 Real Democracy class interviewed the 8 candidates for City Council and posted the interviews on-line here. The interviews range in length from 20-30 minutes and were the longest interviews the candidates gave this election cycle. They were viewed almost 400 times.

2015 Background

An Overview of Saratoga Spring Political and Policy Issues 2014-15

Following Saratoga Springs Politics On-Line

Survey Results of the September City Council Meeting Attendees on Saratoga National Golf Course Resort Zoning Changes


Matthew Barnes, Analyzing the dynamics of participation in Saratoga Springs’ land-use politics: the
case for the qualitative homevoter coalition

In 2014, Matt Barnes wrote his senior honors thesis with me about the role of the qualitative homevoter coalition in shaping land use decisions in Saratoga Springs. His research analyzes the political dynamics surrounding three major development decisions in Saratoga Springs, the City Center Parking Garage, the Casino, and the Comprehensive Plan. We presented the final paper at the New York Political Science Association Annual Conference in Plattsburgh, NY.

2013 City Council Election Analysis

The survey and analysis was conducted by my Real Democracy First Year Seminar at Skidmore College. The seminar conducted a poll of a random sample of registered voters from the Board of Elections on Nov 5-15. They surveyed 227 respondents with a 31 question survey (poll questions here). You can download my students' presentations as PDFs below.

The New Political Landscape of Saratoga Springs by Weston Stewart-Tennes, Ben Kim, Joseph Eisele

Context of the Election by Nick Friedman, Robel Gete, Khang Le

The Priorities of Saratoga Springs Voters by Jamie Benjamin and Zach Stiller

Campaigns Matter: An Analysis of the Sutton and Yepsen Mayoral Campaigns by Josh Brown, Daniel Dasgupta, Kye Hoon Jo,


2007 City Council Election Analysis

2007 Media Coverage
Skidmore Poll: Divisions Hurt Democrats, Paul Post, The Saratogian, Fri, Dec 7, 2007
Poll shows change is desired, Drew Kerr, The Post Start, Sunday, December 09, 2007
Skidmore survey finds feud cost incumbents - The Schenectedy Daily Gazette, Dec 10, 2007

2005 City Council Election Analysis

In 2005 as a senior Government major, Eric managed the successful victory of a Democratic candidate for County Supervisor. He subsequently wrote his senior honors thesis to understand the 2005 election. He conducted phone interviews of 284 residents. Below are links to his thesis. Eric is now a very successful campaign manager who has managed gubernatorial, Congressional, and state election races in several states.