POLS 302 - U.S. Political Parties and Elections

  • 3 credits

This course is designed for the student interested in contemporary American politics and who wants a better understanding of the 2020 general election and how it relates to American political parties. The course will use the 2020 general election (Presidential, Congressional and State elections) as a way to understand the role of political parties in 21st century America. If you have an interest in learning more about the 2020 elections, their significance and their public policy implications, this course is designed for you.

Students will track poll results, candidate and party strategies, fund raising, political messaging, the role of the media, use of digital strategies and other aspects of the 2020 election. Emphasis is on understanding the 2020 election as part of a broader understanding of the role political parties play in contemporary American elections and how this role compares to the role political parties played in past elections.

There is a required text, handouts will be sent, assignments will need to be posted and all students will be required to read and critique the posting. A midterm and final examination will be used to assess student grades.

At the end of the course you will know:

  • How the Electoral College system works as well as the most prominent reform proposals which have been made concerning it.
  • The strategic and tactical decisions confronting the two major party candidates and any significant third-party candidates.
  • The role that fundraising and PAC money have in campaigns.
  • How media coverage impacts election results.
  • How the 2020 general election compares with other presidential elections.
  • The role the two major parties and the minor parties played in the election and how this compares with prior political party participation.
  • The short and long term impacts the general election results will have on public policy and America’s political parties.
  • The impact the 2020 general results may have on American democracy.

Professor David Caputo has taught this course for more than thirty years including utilizing a variety of online formats. Please feel free to contact Dr. Caputo if you have questions: david.caputo@colostate.edu.


POLS 101 (American Government and Politics).

Textbooks and Materials

Textbooks and materials can be purchased at the CSU Bookstore unless otherwise indicated.


  • The Road to the White House 2020: The Politics of Presidential Elections, 11th Ed.
    Wayne, Stephen J.
    ISBN: 978-0357136027


David Caputo


Dr. Caputo received his undergraduate degree from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio and his PhD from Yale University’s Department of Political Science. He has taught at Purdue University, Hunter College and Pace University and was President of Hunter College and Pace University. He has published numerous books and research articles. He has received research support from the National Science Foundation, has held two Fulbright Fellowships and has had visiting appointments at Harvard University and Princeton University. He has also done extensive election coverage and commentary for the major radio and television networks and he continues to offer media commentary on election results. He is student oriented and looks forward to teaching this course at Colorado State University. Feel free to contact him if you have any questions. He can be reached via e-mail at david.caputo@colostate.edu.

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