Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students

The American Electorate in the Trump Era

POLISCI 20N

This seminar will introduce students to the methods social scientists use to analyze public opinion, voting, and elections, with primary emphasis on the American electorate in the 2016 elections and the upcoming 2020 elections. Students will utilize major databases such as the American National Elections Studies (ANES) and the General Social Survey (GSS), as well as ongoing national panels. The seminar emphasizes analysis—not ideology, activism or personal catharsis. How are Americans in various demographic categories voting today and why? What is the relative importance of voter characteristics and identities, policy issues, the records and personal qualities of the candidates, the campaign itself, the performance of the Obama and Trump Administration, and a myriad of other factors?

Students will use these databases and the methods learned in the seminar to produce original quantitative research investigating such questions.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Morris Fiorina

"I have spent the past 47 years teaching Caltech engineers, Harvard “gov-jocks,” and denizens of the Stanford bubble. Along the way I found time to write a number of books and articles that received a respectable amount of professional recognition (for those interested, you can find the gory details in my faculty profile on the political science department website). I study American politics and government in general, but for the past two decades I have concentrated on public opinion and elections.

"We are living in tumultuous times, the most conflictual since my own student years in the 1960s when the country was convulsed by antagonisms arising from the Civil Rights Revolution, the Vietnam War, and the rise of the counter-culture. While this societal disharmony is not a happy condition for our country, it offers an unusual opportunity to study the electorate of the world’s largest and most long-lived democracy at a time of exceptional interest, involvement and disruption.

"Students should be forewarned that in addition to being old, I am gruff and demanding and have no sense of humor whatsoever. Take this seminar at your peril. (smily emoji)"