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Political Science

POLI 100C GENERAL ESSAY INSTRUCTIONS:
Remember, you can always help each other with concepts, understanding of readings and lectures,
and the like. You cannot work with each other or former students on the questions themselves,
nor discuss them with each other.
You must incorporate and cite the readings, but, unlike the midterm, we are expecting direct quotes
and paraphrases. Citations can still be within text, but page numbers are required. Here are some
examples:
From a journal article—download the full PDF to get accurate page numbers:
“For example, Republicans appear to believe, on average, that 46% of Democrats are black – an
overestimate of 22 percentage points, or nearly 100%” (Ahler, 8).
A cite from a book (Abramowitz) will be the same. Certain E-Book formats (for example, I use
Amazon Kindle on my PC) do not list standard page numbers due to formatting conditions. If no
traditional page number is listed, just cite the chapter:
Abramowitz chronicles the geographic changes of partisan identity. Over time the South has
become much more Republican while the Northeast has become much more Democratic
(Abramowitz, Ch. 4).
If you choose to cite something from a website (say opensecrets.org), just list the url:
In 2018, the Republican campaign committees barely outraised their Democratic counterparts
(www.opensecrets.org/parties/index.php?cmte=&cycle=2018).
If, however, you are referencing a web-based document or graph from my lectures/slides, then just
mention the source (OS). Otherwise, you need not cite anything from my lectures. Consider those
to be public access without attribution.
To cite material from the reader, list the author and the page number from that reader (bold-faced
on the bottom of the page).
Mass-based party organizations became viable after the 1840s. “For the first time, they were
considered both natural and necessary” (Silbey, 45).

ESSAY QUESTIONS:

Let’s make this (relatively) easy on everyone. Rather than having you answer two short essays from the
second half of the class and one cumulative, how about you just respond to one of the following
cumulative statements? Your essays should be between 1250-2250 words (approx. 5-9 double-spaced
pages, 12-point, 1” borders).

Essay 1.

Although barely referenced in the original U.S. Constitution (Senators chosen by state), the rule of
winner-take-all, single member districting standards prevails in U.S. elections. How does this influence
electoral and partisan outcomes? You need to minimally discuss how this standard influences turnout,
party positioning, third party activity and success, minority control of government and gerrymandering
possibilities. Make sure to also cover exceptions to the likely outcomes.

Essay 2.

In many respects, issue, demographic, geographic and ideological groups tend to sort themselves into
differing party coalitions. The level of sorting seems to have increased dramatically in the last few
decades, leading to a greater polarization between these coalitions and the congress that serves them.
Comment on both the nature of this sorting and its potential causes.

Essay 3.

The polarization that seemed to be prevalent only during periods of realignment seem to now be a
permanent condition of U.S. electoral and party politics. Comment (you may agree or disagree or a bit
of both).
Please address the following:
• What evidence do we have that party polarization is increasing?
• What are the root causes of party polarization?
 Make sure to include a discussion and explanation of the institutional
changes (both legal and other—media, etc.) that may have contributed to the increase.

Political Science Research Paper

Throughout the course, we have seen many challenges to democracy in the U.S. & California
political systems. We have also seen that in the past such challenges have been overcome by
the workings of our institutions and processes. From the topics below, choose 2 topics and
discuss how they have either helped or hindered democracy. Do you think that your evidence
shows that the U.S. and California now fulfill the ideals of democracy or do there need to be
reforms of these areas in order to achieve democracy?  
Word limit:  1,500. Do not use outside materials!  Please note:  in order to get your grades in
on time, there will be no comments on the final essays
The Presidency & the California Executive
The US & California Courts
Interest groups
Voting & elections
Political parties
Social movements

TEXTS: The Struggle for Democracy, 12th edition (2018 election ed.), by Greenberg and Page
andCalifornia Government and Politics Today, 15th edition, by Field. Both of these editions are
available online (and accessible through Canvas) as The Struggle for Democracy + California
Politics, 12e. Students may also use the 11th edition (either 2014 or 2012 election ed.) or the
10th editionof Greenberg & Page or the 14th or 13th edition of Field (available online at
Amazon, Alibris, Half, etc.) Copies of the texts will be on reserve in the library (including paper
versions of the online editions). Students are also responsible for following current events in
American politics by reading a daily newspaper such as the Los Angeles Times.

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